stuffed carrot peanut butter muffins

Miss Fats has had a busy back to school month.  That means lots of events, meetings and trying to keep up with coursework, and of course, a ton of baking.  Sunday Sundaes is currently a poor reflection of her efforts since returning to Chicago (and so is, frankly, Miss Fats’ phone), but she’s literally been churning things out too fast to photograph.  Now that she’s fully settled back into the pace of the year, she’s sharing one of her favorite morning baked goods to usher in a whole slew of pastry posts she’s got in the works for you.

IMG_7565Miss Fats’ most regular baking gig includes the bi-monthly workshop she co-coordinates for graduate students, faculty and visiting guests.  This means churning out platters of scones, muffins, loaves and all that bready, breakfasty fun on Friday mornings.  This past week featured one of Miss Fats’ favorite people to bake for, I.  She’s a big fan of any friend who willingly takes seconds and thirds without asking.  I is always game to grab an extra cookie, slice of cake or giant bag of baking bits that Miss Fats shoves into his hands.  So she gave him full license to pick a breakfast item or flavor profile for his workshop.  His choice was the result of a little brainstorming ‘sesh that ended up circulating around the crazy delicious dessert team Miss Fats dined on at Blackbird last spring.  In pure pastry genius nonsense, Blackbird served her up a carrot cake with peanut ice cream that sent Miss Fats over the edge and she’s been dying to try out that flavor combo ever since.  I’s workshop was the perfect place to test out the peanutty waters.  Luckily adores carrot cake and anything peanut butter related, so the challenge was to transform an elegant, James Beard award winning pastry chef’s plate into a bready, handheld breakfast object.  Game on.

The end result was the craziest muffin Miss Fats has ever created: carrot cake stuffed with a cream cheese filling and topped with a peanut streusel and peanut butter drizzle.  But it totally worked.  You got every necessary flavor profile: the sweet spice of the moist carrot cake, the gooey tang of the cream cheese filling, and the salty crumble crunch of the peanut topping.  She might have a new all time favorite muffin.  This muffin boasts the perfect harmony of texture and fall flavors to take your ‘buds to a harmony party (whatever that is).  Though there’s a lot of steps with these suckers, she suspects they could easily be transformed into a lazy loaf or cake as well.  Not to mention, they’re totally worth the muffin work, because who doesn’t love a hand-held object that packs this much flavor and contrast.

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They’re not so pretty, but they’re damn tasty.

Stuffed Carrot and Peanut Butter Muffins:
adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s carrot cake
makes 24 muffins

filling:
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

muffins:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated carrots

topping:
2 tbs natural peanut butter
1 tbs butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs flour
large pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (unsalted, or be sure to adjust salt if yours are salted)

glaze:
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt (depending on your peanut butter)
water (if needed)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cupcake pans.  Make the filling: heat the cream cheese in a bowl in the microwave for approximately 1 minute.  Stir in sugar and vanilla and set aside.

2. Prepare the streusel: Melt the peanut butter and butter in the microwave.  Using a fork, mix in the flour, brown sugar and salt, until combined and you have a slightly-moist, crumbly mixture.  Add the chopped peanuts.

3.  Make the muffins: In a large bowl, combine the oil, eggs, and sugar.  Mix until will combined.  Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Fold in the carrots.

4. Assemble the muffins: Distribute approximately 2 tbs of the batter into each cup (filling about half way).  Then follow with about 2 tsps of the cream cheese scooped into the center of your cups.  Top them off with another 2 tbs of muffin batter (Miss Fats actually recommends filling these nearly to the top.  She was disatisfied with how flat her 3/4 filled muffins turned out).  Finally, sprinkle the topping on your filled muffins. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

5. Make the glaze: while the muffins are baking, heat the peanut butter in a small bowl.  Whisk in the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla.  If the mixture is proving too thick to drizzle, add a little water (this will depend on the consistency of your peanut butter).

6.  After your muffins have cooled for approximately 10 minutes, drizzle the glaze over top.

Six steps to salt-sweet bliss.  The beauty of this recipe is that all its components are tasty little devils on their own.  To cut back on work, Miss Fats recommends skipping the glaze or filling (though she’s pretty sure you’ll regret it!);  though do not skip that crumble, people: crumble is crack.  These guys will store just fine at room temperature in an air tight container for a couple of days.  Though she doesn’t understand why they’d need to: she dares you to just eat one.  No wait, Miss Fats takes that back: don’t even bother.  Just fill your mouth with the crunch-salt-sweet-creamy-tang that is the perfect morning muffin.

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