Muffin Much

What’s the difference between a muffin and a cupcake, you ask? Cupcakes tend to have frosting and decoration, while muffins may not. On the other hand, muffins sometimes have streusel and sugar-crystal topping, while cupcakes don’t. So, while the perception is that muffins are “healthier” than cupcakes, that’s not always the case, unless they contain healthier ingredients. But you can switch to whole wheat flour and applesauce for either muffins or cupcakes. So at the end of the day, what is the difference? Nothin’ much!

We have all seen many healthy muffin recipes, including those that use oats or fiber cereals. They usually contain unsweetened applesauce in place of sugar and oil or butter. Those are fine all year long. But when planning your Shavuos baking, we say stick with the real thing and enjoy it in moderation with your family as a Yom Tov treat. You can go back to oat bran on Tuesday!

Both of these muffins freeze well; so you can start your baking today!

Carrot Cake Cheesecake Muffins

This recipe combines 2 milchig favorites!


  • one 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Muffins:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup grated carrots, lightly packed (about 2 medium-large carrots)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan or line the pan with paper muffin cups.

Stir together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Set aside.

Make the muffin batter:

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Fold in the grated carrots, stirring to combine.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of the batter (a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here) into each muffin cup, spreading it to cover the bottom. Drop in a heaping tablespoon of cream cheese filling.

Cover with enough batter to fill the muffin cups quite full. The batter should come to within about 1/4” of the top of each muffin cup.

Bake the muffins until a cake tester inserted into the cake part of one (not into the cream cheese filling) comes out clean — about 20 minutes. The tops of the muffins will feel firm to the touch.

Remove the muffins from the oven, and as soon as you’re able to handle them, transfer them to a rack. If you serve the muffins warm, the filling will be soft. If you wait for them to cool, it’ll firm up.

Pecan Pie Muffins

Feel free to substitute any other nuts you prefer, or add some caramel chips for even more flavor

  • 2 cups chopped pecans, divided
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled
  • Sugar crystals

Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine 1.5 cups of pecans, sugar, flour and baking powder. Make a well in the center of the mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Add the vanilla, cream or milk and melted butter and stir to combine. Pour the egg mixture into the well in the dry ingredients, stirring until moistened.

Spoon the batter into the cups, filling each almost full. Sprinkle remaining pecans and sugar crystals on top. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted in a muffin — about 20 minutes.

Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.