Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Starbucks-Like Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins and a story of Pumpkin-Hating Boy starts loving Pumpkin

Are you a Starbucks fan?

We are. Strangely, my boy and I drink lots of Starbucks Frappe (decaffeinated ones) only we were in America as Starbucks seems to be everywhere in US.

Why am I baking these Starbucks-like Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins? Well, I was trying to make a point here. The story begins from my previous bake when I baked the Bobby Flay's Very Moist Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins...

Mum: Do you like cranberry muffins in your lunch today?

Boy: They are delicious!!!

Mum: Hahahahahahahaha!!!

I was laughing because I know that my boy hate pumpkin and didn't know that there is pumpkin in these cranberry muffins.

Boy: Mum, tell me what is so funny?

Mum, with a big grin: These muffins have pumpkin in them and you like them!!!

At that point, I regretted telling my boy the truth as his sulking face makes me feel kind of wary. My six sense told me to check the school bins on the next day. True enough, I found that my boy had thrown away the cranberry pumpkin muffins!!! After being caught red handed, my boy was heavily reprimanded and he apologized. He admitted that he couldn't taste any "yucky" pumpkin in the cranberry pumpkin muffins but chose to toss the pumpkin muffins away all because of his pumpkin-hating thoughts.

Here, I'm trying to convince my boy that muffins made with pumpkins can be moist and delicious and so we have browsed the internet together to find a good pumpkin recipe. Among all, we were attracted to this highly rated Starbuck-like Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffin recipe from because of our good faith with Starbucks Frappe.... LOL! I hope that my boy will like these muffins...

Starbucks cream cheese pumpkin muffins
Starbucks-Like Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins 
To start, mix all these ingredients.
Wrap cream cheese mixture in a sheet of baking paper and freeze so that it can be sliced into pieces.
Mix the muffin batter.
Assemble the ingredients in the muffin pan...
... and bake!
Starbucks cream cheese pumpkin muffins
Very moist and tasty!

Are you curious to know the end of my story?

Mum: Do you like the muffin in your lunch today?

Boy, with a nod: Yes. It is very nice.

Mum, looking surprised: Do you know that there is pumpkin in it?

Boy, looking surprised too: I don't know and I don't mind the pumpkin...

Mum, with a stern face: Now, tell me honestly... Did you throw away the muffin???

Boy, with weary eyes: No, I didn't. I wouldn't dare. You have to trust me! This muffin is very nice.

Is this a good ending? I hope so ...

Here's the recipe that I have mostly adapted from to bake only 6 muffins to test my boy's acceptance of these pumpkin muffins.

The recipe says "These delicious muffins are very close to the kind you can get at Starbucks. If you want to cut back on the fat, substitute some or all of the oil with natural unsweetened applesauce."

After reading this phrase... My boy said "Mum, please bake these with full amount of fat. Please!"

What can I say? ... ok? With another 
wary face.

Makes 6 standard size 1/3 cup muffins
110g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon*
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 tsp baking powder
1 large egg (80g each), roughly beaten
75g plus 7g caster sugar
(I have reduced the amount of added sugar in this recipe and this sweetness is just right for us)
1/2 cup pumpkin, preferably butternut pumpkin for a nice nutty bit, steamed and mashed
75 ml vegetable oil, preferably rice bran oil
60g cream cheese, preferably the 30% fat reduced with 22% fat... Shhhhh! Don't tell my son!
pecan halves or any roughly chopped nuts to top, optional

* We didn't have pumpkin pie spice and so I have added more ground cinnamon.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese with 2 tsp of the beaten egg and 7g of sugar. Place mixture on a piece of baking paper and wrap it into a log shape. Place it in the freezer for 1 hr or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°F or 160°C fan forced.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and spices together. In another large mixing bowl, mix egg, pumpkin and oil together. Then, sift the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture. Mix gently until the muffin batter is all well combined. Do not over-mix. Line a muffin pan with paper cups and fill each with muffin batter until it is about half full.
Unwrap the cream cheese mixture. Using a sharp knife, cut cream cheese into portions of 1-2 teaspoons. Place each portion of cream cheese in the middle of the muffin batter and press it down.

Top the muffin with nuts and bake for 25 mins, until a skewer inserted the non-cream cheese area comes out clean.

Let cool in pans for 5 mins, then remove to racks to cool completely. Serve when they are slightly warm or completely cooled but I like the muffins the best when it the cream cheese is still soft and runny.

Happy Baking

This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs up organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and me, Bake for Happy Kids, hosted by Eileen from Eileen's Diary at this post.


For October 2014, Eileen has requested her Little Thumbs Up event with PUMPKIN theme to starts on 1st October and will end on the last day of the month. Please join us! To join, simply cook or bake any recipe with PUMPKIN for October 2014 and link with us at this post anytime until 31st October 2014.

Don't forget your thumbs up or display this badge! And make sure that: (1) Your post must be a current post preferably within this month. (2) Please mention Little Thumbs Up in your post and link back to Bake for Happy Kidsmy little favourite DIY or/and Eileen from Eileen's DiaryFor more details, please see this.

What after October 2014? Little Thumbs Up is having a break in November and December 2014. We will be back with Anne from My Bare Cupboard being the next hostess of January 2015 and her theme is NOODLES and PASTA! starting on the first Tuesday of January 2015.

This post is also linked to the event, My Treasure Recipes #3 - Taste of Autumn (Oct / Nov 2014) organised by Miss B from Everybody eats well in Flanders and Charmaine from Mimi Bakery House.

What next? I will be away for a holiday in Singapore and Tokyo and will be back on 1st November 2014. Ciao! And see you in 2 weeks time...

For the whole month of November 2014, Yen from Eat your heart out and Grace from Life can be simple and I (Zoe) from Bake for Happy Kids are cooking and baking lots of Bobby Flay's recipes

Sadly, this will be our LAST Cook like a Star event and hope that you won't miss it and enjoy cooking or baking with us.

For the whole month of December 2014, Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and me from Bake for Happy Kids are cooking and baking a family feast to celebrate Christmas 2014. Join us and link your post with us if you are also cooking something special for your Christmas celebration.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Miniature Maple Pecan Tarts (Williams-Sonoma)

"Spot on!"

My brain told me this instantly after my first bite of these tarts. Good that my taste bud and brain are communicating fast and well these days... LOL!

Next, my brain instructed my right hand to pat my left shoulder... Pat! Pat! ...and kept telling me, "Good choice, Zoe! Good choice!" Pardon me that I have a strange habit of talking to myself and I also have a funny brain... LOL!

I hope that I don't sound like I'm bragging but it is true that I'm very proud of myself for choosing this excellent recipe to bake for our bake-along with Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Lena from Frozen wings.

Seeing the bake-along bakes that I have baked at here, here, herehere and more, you might know that I'm obsessed with baking miniature cakes and bakes. To me, mini cakes and bakes are good because each serve has been reduced in its portion size and they are generally petite and cute to enjoy!

Here is an again highly rated recipe from William Sonoma and also from the book, William Sonoma Baking. This tart recipe is really interesting to bake as this tart is mainly made of maple syrup and pecan nuts. Yeah... lots of maple syrup and pecan nuts!

Instead of baking just one 20 cm (9 inch) round maple pecan tart as recommended in the recipe, I have used full amount of the pastry and half amount of maple pecan filling to bake a dozen of 6 cm (2-1/2 inches) rounds tarts. In fact, half amount of maple pecan filling requires 1 cup (250ml) of maple syrup and this amount is actually the entire standard-size bottle of maple syrup! Despite the massive amount of maple syrup used, the overall sweetness of these tarts is surprisingly spot-on! Absolutely, just right! The recipe uses reduced maple syrup very cleverly to coat the pecan nuts resulting these maple coated nuts to be extremely fragrant and addictive to enjoy. Double spot-on? I think so. With butter pastry bases, I would say these tarts are triple spot-on! Spot on! Spot on! Spot on!... LOL!

Can't have enough of these triple spot-on tarts? Clearly, I deserve more pats (or maybe triple pat) on my shoulder... Pat! Pat! Pat!

maple pecan pies tarts William Sonoma
My miniature Maple Pecan Tarts
These tarts are mainly made of maple syrup and pecan nuts.
Freezing the tart pastry before baking helps to prevent the pastry from shrinking.
Yay! These pastry didn't shrink much!
Next, keep boiling the maple syrup until it is thick and viscous.
Cold reduced maple syrup can be like hardening caramelized sugar. A slightly warm reduced maple syrup is easier to handle.
Add in the coarsely chopped pecan nuts.
Spoon filling into tart pastry and bake!
I have topped the tarts with extra pecan halves to make them look a little prettier :p 
Triple spot-on? Give me a pat (or more) if you think so :)
Pat! Pat! Pat!

After the last three pats, I'm giving myself more pats again... because I had completed the recent Melbourne Marathon on 12 Oct 2014 for 3:40:44 and this is my best personal timing. Yippee!!!

This is my 3rd marathon medal :)

Here's the recipe mostly adapted from the book, William Sonoma Baking or here and here

Makes a dozen 6 cm / 2-1/2 inches round tarts

For the Basic Pie Dough:
190g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
125g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 tbsp very cold water

This is the method that I used... To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using the finger tips of my hands, rub butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse crumbs, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.

Alternatively... To make the dough in a stand mixer, fit the mixer with the flat beater, and stir together the flour, sugar and salt in the mixer bowl. Add the butter and toss it roughly with a fork to coat with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse crumbs, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix on low speed just until the dough pulls together.

Wrap the dough in cling wrap and allow it to rest in the fridge for 1 hr or more.

For the maple pecan filling:
1 cups pure maple syrup
1 eggs, lightly beaten
20g dark muscavodo or dark brown sugar
a pinch of salt
15g unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
extra pecan halves to top, optional

Using a rolling pin, roll dough into 5mm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a 9 cm round cutter, cut dough into circles. Transfer each circle into each 6 cm round tart mould and pat it into the bottom and sides of the mould. Fold the overhang under itself and pinch it together to create a high edge on the mould rim. 

Refrigerate or freeze the pastry until firm, about 30 mins or more. Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F or 170°C fan forced.

Line the pastry shell with baking paper and fill with pie weights. Bake for 15 mins, then lift an edge of the baking paper. If the dough looks wet, continue to bake, checking every 5 mins, until the dough is pale gold, for a total baking time of 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F or 160°C fan forced

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the maple syrup to a boil and boil for 10-20 mins to reduce. Remove from the heat. The syrup should be reduced to something thick and syrupy like golden syrup kind of texture. If necessary, return the syrup to the saucepan and continue to boil until sufficiently reduced. Let cool to room temperature before proceeding.

In a bowl, stir together the eggs, brown sugar, reduced maple syrup, salt, melted butter and vanilla until well mixed. Add the pecans and stir well. Pour into the partially baked pastry shell, making sure the pecans are evenly distributed. For a pretty look, you may place one or two pecan halves on each tart before baking.

Bake filled tarts until the filling is slightly puffed and firm to the touch, 20 minus. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool until just slightly warm before serving.

Happy Baking

Here are our friends that have joined us for this bake-along. Please visit their blogs for more of their maple pecan tart baking.


Please submit your details if you wish to link your post with this bake-along. This linking tool is open from 14 to 24 Oct 2014.

For our next bake-along, we are baking French macarons which is to be posted on 6 Nov 2014. Please bake-along with us! All you need to do is to bake any of your favourite French macarons recipe and blog hop with us for the next 10 days.

To blog hop with us, simply copy and paste this linky HTML code into your blog post where you want the blog hop list to appear. Make sure you are in HTML view/mode when you paste in the code. get the InLinkz code

Before using this linky tool, please make sure that: (1) Your post must be a current post. (2) Please mention Bake-Along in your post and link back to any of our hosts' Bake-Along post, (Joyce, Lena or Zoe). (3) Appreciate if you can display the Bake-Along badge in your post when linking up with us. Cheers!