As promised- another delicious zucchini recipe from Carol.
Every summer, I challenge myself to create at least 3 new zucchini breads/muffin recipes. Inspiration for flavor ideas come from everywhere-and at any time. I keep an ongoing list on hand to add all those ideas to.
There are so many decadent flavors of cheesecake out there. That got me thinking...cheesecake...and lemon...and muffin....all together. How good would THAT be? It sounded like a winner to me in my mind......now could I make it happen for real? Time to find out.....
I don't often peel zucchini when making breads or muffins, but decided I would this time so that the muffins wouldn't be flecked with green. Getting lemon flavor in the batter was easily accomplished by using instant lemon pudding mix, the zest of 1 large lemon and 3 teaspoons of lemon extract.
I wanted something different for a topping. Graham crackers...that's what I'd use for a cheesecake crust. Why not make a crust mixture and use it for a topping? And while I'm at it, how about making a "crust" on the bottom of the muffin before I add the muffin batter?
I mixed the crust ingredients, then using a measuring tablespoon, added a rounded spoonful of crumbs to each paper liner in my jumbo muffin cups. My Pampered Chef Tart Tamper was the perfect tool to press the crumb mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup.
A medium cookie scoop worked perfectly for getting half of the muffin batter into each cup. A mini cookie scoop is just the right size to divide the cheesecake filling evenly between all the muffins. The remaining half of the batter gets gently spread over the top of the filling, then as a final touch, the last of the graham cracker crumb mixture gets sprinkled over top of each muffin.
These take a little longer to bake than muffins usually take-about 40 minutes in my oven. I started testing them at 35 minutes, then every few minutes there after until my cake tester inserted in the center came out clean.
Letting them cool completely was probably the hardest part, Then came the final test-would they taste as good as I imagined they would?
The paper peeled off nicely to reveal all those glorious layers I wanted to see from bottom to top. The center of the muffin has a nice ribbon of cream cheese running through it.
One bite and I knew I had a winner. All the heavenly flavors of a decadent lemon cheesecake in a muffin-with ZUCCHINI no less! The burst of lemon comes shining through, the cream cheese adds a rich ribbon of creamy goodness and the graham cracker topping adds a nice texture and one more layer of flavor.
If you're a lemon lover and have zucchini busting out of your garden that needs to be used in a new recipe, I hope you'll give these a try. I mean really-don't you want lemon cheesecake for breakfast? Now you can have it! How cool is that? ;)
LEMON CHEESECAKE ZUCCHINI MUFFINS
CRUST AND TOPPING:
1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
6 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1 (8 oz.) pkg. 1/3 less fat OR regular cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. clear OR pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
3 large eggs
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. canola OR vegetable oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 tsp. lemon extract
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
2 c. peeled shredded zucchini
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 (4 serving size) pkg. lemon instant pudding mix
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a small bowl. Stir in the melted butter until the mixture is well combined. Set aside.
For the filling, in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth and creamy and the sugar has dissolved. Beat in the, egg, vanilla and lemon extract on medium speed until combined. Set the filling aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 jumbo muffin cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.
For the muffin batter, place the peeled shredded zucchini in a colander to drain while assembling the rest of the ingredients.
Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until well mixed and sugar is dissolved. Add the oil and whisk until blended. Stir in the vanilla, lemon extract and lemon zest.
If needed, squeeze the excess liquid out of the zucchini and stir it into the egg mixture.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, dry pudding mix, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture and stir just until the flour is completely incorporated. Do not overmix.
Place a slightly rounded measuring tablespoon of the crust mixture in the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. I use my Pampered Chef Tart Tamper to press the crumbs evenly in the bottom of the paper liner, but you could use the bottom of a small glass or your fingers to give the crumbs a press until the bottom of each cup is evenly coated with the crumb mixture.
Divide half of the muffin batter between the muffin cups.
Divide the filling between the muffins and gently spread it across the lemon batter.
Top the filling with the remaining muffin batter
Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the remaining graham cracker mixture.
Bake @ 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the muffins cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes; run a butter knife around the edge of each muffin and gently lift the muffins out of the pans to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature or cold. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. These freeze well too. Makes 12 jumbo muffins.
NOTE: If you would like do make regular size muffins, proceed as above but use 24 standard size muffin cups. Bake @ 350 for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
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