Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Ribbon

Well, I've finally decided which of my pumpkin recipes I'm trying first. I went with pumpkin bread because I liked the idea of a little cream cheese tucked inside of these loaves. I love how the filling turned into Amazon smiles.  I promise this bread will make you smile, too, because it's easy and delicious.


I made a few changes to the recipe, which is unusual for me. I'm the kind of person who follows a recipe to the letter and measures everything. A good thing for someone who likes to bake. But these were little tweaks that I felt would make them just a little bit better. First of all, I used brown sugar in the cream cheese filling, because, well, I love brown sugar and cream cheese together. Did anyone else have mothers who would slice up apples and whip together cream cheese, brown sugar and vanilla to dip them in? Mine did and it was my favorite fall treat. Kind of like caramel, but so much easier!


The most time-consuming part of this recipe is the layering, but it comes together fairly quickly. If you make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature, it's very easy to spread. The next change I made was to only use chocolate chips in one of the loaves. I'm such a purist; I'm never sure that I'll like chocolate getting in the way of my pumpkin. I'll eat it and I've had that combination before and liked it.  On top of that...I'm an unapologetic choco-holic. I can't get enough. And still I'm all, "mmmm...I don't know..."  I'll even tell you this: I loved the one with the mini chocolate chips. But even so, I would miss the one with just cream cheese if I didn't have it. So that's the beauty of this recipe: it makes two loaves. Just hold back the chocolate chips, toss them with a little bit of flour and add them at the last minute before making the second loaf. Then you'll have the best of both worlds. Feel free to use regular size chips if you want a more pronounced chocolate accent to your pumpkin....I won't judge.


So now the floodgates are opened. I was deliberating over my pumpkin choice partly because I think I knew if I started it would be hard to stop. What form will my puree take next? Cookies? I have a couple of pumpkin whoopie pie recipes I want to try. Cake? (as in: cupcakes) Should I find the perfect pumpkin pie recipe for our Thanksgiving? Or maybe a cheesecake? It's hard to pick. I have a hard time saying no to a new recipe like some people have a hard time saying no to new shoes. I'm just going to have to take them one at a time and maybe then, someday, I'll have made everything I want to make. I'm kind of afraid that I'll miss the perfect recipe and I won't even know it. Yes, I do realize that I have issues. Don't we all?


The good news is that this obsession of mine is relatively affordable. I just have to keep buying cans of pumpkin every time I go grocery shopping. But everyone does that. Right? Anyway, I plan on not worrying next year when pumpkin is hard to come by around September, right when I start feeling the itch to bake.

Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Ribbon
adapted from MixingBowl.com

Makes 2 loaves

4 c. flour
2 T. pumpkin pie spice
2 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips ( original recipe calls for 12 oz. regular chips)
1/2 c. toasted, chopped walnuts ( or pecans)
1 c. butter, softened
29 oz. can pumpkin puree
3 c. sugar
4 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream, room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract 

Cream Cheese Filling:
2 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2  c. brown sugar
2 egg yolks
2 t. vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms of 2 9" loaf pans. In large bowl, combine flour, pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add chocolate chips and nuts. In med. mixing bowl, combine butter, pumpkin, sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Beat with mixer on medium until smooth. Add flour mixture, one cup at a time, beating on low until moistened. For filling: In a bowl, combine all ingredients and blend well with hand mixer until fluffy. Spread half of batter into pans. Carefully spread cream cheese mixture over batter. Top with rest of batter. Swirl with knife. ( I skipped this part, wanting a defined cream cheese middle.) Bake 65-70 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks. (These were actually better the next day after spending the night in the refrigerator.) Store in refrigerator.

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