Not long ago, I became a subscriber to the King Arthur Flour Baking Sheet newsletter. The first recipe that caught my eye was a carrot cake muffin filled with a sweet cheese filling. Like the author of the printed recipe, I too made a few tweaks to suit my tastes (and dietary restrictions). The result is a soft, sweet muffin that is more carrot cake than muffin.
When I took my mini-muffins to a gathering recently, I had a lot of filling left over. I scooped it into a pastry bag with a star tube at the end so I could pipe out frosting for the muffins. Yes, I know you don't normally frost muffins, but these were so cakey that I simply had to do it. And, my tasters were very happy that I did. These were a big hit.
Caveat: Be careful to use enough muffin batter to top the filling. My filling ended up coming up and out the top of the muffin, so I didn't have a creamy filling the way the photo displayed on the recipe page shows.
Here's the recipe the way I made it:
1 8-oz package Neufchatel cheese
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon tangelo zest (use oranges, they are probably easier to find)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup agave nectar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons tangelo zest (see suggestion above)
1 oz freshly squeezed tangelo juice
1 3/4 cups finely grated carrots
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cups chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 325. Line two mini muffin pans with liners (you will have extra, so line 4 cups of a regularly sized muffin pan with liners as well).
2. To make the filling, heat the cheese in the microwave for 40 seconds. Then, whisk in the agave nectar and tangelo zest until smooth. Set aside while making the muffin batter.
3. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
4. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and the agave nectar until light and fluffy.
5. Mix in the eggs one at a time. The butter will appear to "break," but don't worry, it will be fine. Just make sure to beat it all well so that the eggs are incorporated into the butter mixture.
6. Mix in the zest and the juice. The zest may stick to your beater, so clean it frequently.
7. Add the dry ingredients until just combined.
8. Mix in the carrots.
9. Mix in the raisins.
10. Mix in the walnuts.
11. Place one tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup (two for the large cups).
12. Place one tablespoon of filling on top of the batter in each cup.
13. Distribute the remaining batter over each cup.
14. Bake for 18 minutes, or until the tops of each muffin spring back when lightly touched.
15. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the cups from the pans, cooling completely on a wire rack.
16. Frost with remaining filling. Keep refrigerated until they disappear into happy hands!