I always love a good challenge. Ask anyone who is close to me and they will most likely agree that I am a very competitive person. So, when I was approached by McCormick to "Go 4 Gourmet," I read the guidelines and couldn't wait to get started.
What did the challenge entail? "Embark on a seasonal pursuit of deliciousness with some serious Gourmet flavor." Sign me up. What I had to do was create a gourmet dish using this round's four ingredients: pumpkin, sea salt, saigon cinnamon, and almonds. What an amazing array of flavors to combine in one recipe. I couldn't wait to get started.
After I brainstormed and researched, I finally thought of a recipe for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Almond Streusel Topping. I gathered all of my supplies this morning and began mixing, stirring, pouring, and baking.
While the muffins were in the oven, I went upstairs to take care of a few chores that were on my list. As I walked downstairs to quiet the beeping timer, the scent wafting from the kitchen that wrapped around me was one of warmth and comfort. Then, I took one look at the main floor of our home and couldn't help but take in the lit Christmas tree, the festive garland, and the jolly holiday decor that was placed throughout my home.
As quickly as the scent of the baked muffins awakened my senses, some of my favorite memories of past holiday seasons filled my memory. During the holiday season when I was a child, my Mom and I would gear up for one of our favorite traditions: an all-day baking extravaganza. We would pick one day on the calendar and when that day arrived, we would setup the kitchen counters and table to serve as our creating, mixing, decorating, and packaging stations. Hours and hours would pass by as treat after treat was mixed, baked, cooled, and decorated. At the end of the day, we had enough treats to last throughout the holiday season.
As I've grown older, I find myself having a strong bond with the holiday recipes that my Mom and I prepared together. From mini cheesecakes to no-bake cookies, it's the flavors that make up those recipes that help me welcome the holiday season with open arms. On my way back into the kitchen today to test the muffins, I paused and couldn't help but think of the wonderful memories that I made with my Mom in the kitchen when I was younger.
This year for Christmas, the tree will be lit, the holiday decor will be strewn throughout the home, and a big change will be welcomed into our arms and our home. With my parents visiting for the holidays, I truly cannot wait to continue to make holiday memories all while welcoming the best gift ever ... a baby, our little dream come true.
It's recipes like this muffin recipe, filled with all sorts of flavors that my Mom and I used when baking together when I was younger, that will give me a taste of home of the holidays as we have much to celebrate this holiday season.
I challenged myself to come up with a recipe that followed the guidelines. What I ended up with was a delicious muffin and a flood of memories that lifted my spirits throughout the day. So, I challenge you to come up with a recipe that includes all of the "Go 4 Gourmet" ingredients and see if you can remember or create your favorite flavor story.
To learn more about the challenge and to enter for a chance to win one of seven bi-weekly prizes and the ultimate grand prize, please be sure to visit the McCormick website. Also, don't forget to add this recipe to your holiday baking list. You never know ... this recipe just might be a new family holiday tradition.
Be sure to check out my full McCormick #FlavorStory here. Share your #FlavorStory and McCormick will make a donation to United Way. For more information, please be sure to visit the following site: http://www.flavoroftogether.com/.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Almond Streusel Topping
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon McCormick pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 tablespoon McCormick Gourmet Roasted Saigon Cinnamon
- 1/2 cup of almonds, chopped
- 5 tablespoons butter, diced and slightly softened
Cream Cheese Filling:
- 1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, slightly softened
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons McCormick pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Roasted Saigon Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Sea Salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray two muffin tins with nonstick spray or line with muffin cups.
- Prepare the topping by mixing together all of the streusel ingredients in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a fork until the mixture turns crumbly.
- Prepare the cream cheese filling by mixing together all of the filling ingredients and beat until smooth.
- Prepare the batter by combining the flour, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Add the eggs, pumpkin, and oil. Mix to combine.
- Use an ice cream scoop to evenly distribute the muffin batter into 24 muffin cups. Top the muffin batter with a tablespoon of the cream cheese filling. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the batter.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
What's your favorite spice to keep in the cupboard?
*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by McCormick. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.