Thursday, October 18, 2012

I Want Candy

     I'm a slacker when it comes to blogging lately, but in my defense, I'm working on a 4.0!  I'm nearly there too, and I'm hoping that allying myself with the teacher's favorite in Anatomy will give me the edge I need to put me over the top in that class.  We shall see.  In the meantime the extra studying hasn't left much time for my usual candid updates, but I have a minute so I wanted to share a bit of my night with y'all.

     I recently taught Monkey how to play Go-Fish.  It's a good way for her to review her numbers, and this evening I was struck by another opportunity to incorporate some higher thinking into our game. We had just finished, and we were counting our pairs to see who won.

Me:  Monkey, Mommy has 11 pairs; how many do you have?

Monkey: 7!

Me:  The winner is the person who has more pairs.  Who has more, me or you?

Monkey: Me!

Me:  Is 7 more than 11?

Monkey: Yup!

Me: sure?

Monkey: Yes ma'am.

Me (being struck by a brilliant thought): Monkey, would you rather have 7 pieces of candy or 11?

Monkey:  Candy!?  I want candy!

Me (backtracking really quickly):  No! No; forget that example.  No one's getting candy.  Would you rather watch 7 movies or 11?

Monkey: I want to watch Little Foot.

Me:  *smack my forehead*  No; we're not watching a movie!  I just mean....ugh.  If I have 11 pairs and you have 7 pairs who won Go-Fish?

Monkey:  I don't want to play Go-Fish;  I want to watch a movie.


     At least she didn't remember the part about 11 pieces of candy.

(I don't have a good segway tonight, sorry.)

     I do have something yummy worth sharing though, and it's the perfect time of year for this particular recipe.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
(from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Note: A standard sized can of pumpkin is 15 ounces, just shy of 2 cups (16 ounces). You could open another can if you want and freeze the extra or just use one can which is what I did. The amount is so little I don't think it makes a difference in the final product.

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours. The mixture will still be somewhat soft but firmer.

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. I always get inpatient here and mix it together with my hands so that it looks like the texture of wet sand. I know you aren't supposed to do it this way but I'm impatient. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill until ready to use.

To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. You want to put the cream cheese lower than you think because it will rise a lot during the baking process. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before serving. 

     These were super yummy, and they're the perfect breakfast/brunch food this time of year.  Enjoy!