For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese (reduced fat is fine), at room temperature
2 tbsp. honey
For the muffins:
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
1½ cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
For the topping:*
4 tbsp. white whole wheat flour
7 tbsp. old fashioned rolled oats
3 tbsp. turbinado (coarse) sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
3 tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
step 1: Show Images
To make the filling, combine the cream cheese and honey in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Transfer to a pastry bag. Pipe into 24 equal dollops onto a parchment-covered baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.
step 2: Show Images
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, oil and applesauce. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
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To make the topping, combine the flour, oats, sugar, 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. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
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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). Place a dollop of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. 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.
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Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. (It may be hard to resist immediate consumption, but the cream cheese filling gets very hot!)
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*Topping is completely optional, and they are good both ways. I think some chopped pecans or walnuts would also be very good mixed in with the topping.