The cupcake versus muffin debate is as old as time. Some say that frosting draws the line; cupcakes are frosted, muffins are not. Others say it’s about the ratio of fat to flour. Still other folks claim it’s about using oil or melted butter (muffins) versus creamed sugar and butter (cupcakes). I like this last one, I think, because fluffy creamed butter and sugar result in a more airy pastry. Which is why I’m having a hard time deciding if these pumpkin cuties are muffins or cupcakes. The frosting and soft crumb would indicate cupcakeness. But the frosting could easily be served alongside as a spread, and the butter here is melted and moderate in amount, so I’m thinking it’s really more of a muffin.
In reality, it doesn’t matter. They are delicious. Whatever we call them, they are filled with fall flavor and pumpkin goodness, and I have no qualms about eating them any time of day. They would be great for Halloween – for breakfast or dessert!
While these Muffins/Cupcakes are lovely on their own, I think it’s the cream cheese icing that really makes them spectacular. My mother-in-law and I share an obsesion for honey walnut cream cheese. She came over for breakfast last week and I bought bagels and honey walnut cream cheese from our local bagel shop. And then I ate up the rest of that cream cheese on graham crackers as a fabulous evening snack through the rest of the week. And when I finished that tub of cream cheese, it occurred to me that I could easily make my own. Just whip some cream cheese, a bit of honey, and a few toasted walnuts together and that’s it! It’s fantastic on toast, on a banana, on waffles, and, of course, on pumpkin Muffins/Cupcakes.
Pumpkin Muffins/Cupcakes With Honey Walnut Cream Cheese Frosting
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
4 eggs, beaten
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
16 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 12-cup muffin tins. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice. In a separate bowl, wisk together the sugars, applesauce, butter, eggs, and pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Divide the batter among the muffin tins and bake 20-25 minutes until set. Cool.
While the muffins/cupcakes cool, make the frosting. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add in the honey to combine, and then the nuts.
Frost the cupcakes (or serve alongside the muffins!) and enjoy.