There are a lot of magical little places up in the Yukon. I was fortunate to work at the incomparable Alpine Bakery, and have struggled to find bread of that quality in either Calgary or Vancouver. There are incredible cafés, restaurants, and shops that would stand out even in the largest cities, and we are always thankful to have these gems in our small town. One such gem is the Chocolate Claim. First, they sell some of my favourite earrings from Lara Melnik, but they also have two types of muffins every day that are sure to knock your socks off (they also used to have a cranberry bread pudding muffin that is as close to heaven as I’ve been, I am not sure they still make it). When I was working at the Yukon Transportation Museum I used to go out of my way a few days a week to get a coffee and muffin. One of my favourites was their Raspberry Chocolate Chip, it had the perfect balance of tart and sweet. My ultimate favourite which seemed to appear less often was the Blackberry Cream Cheese. Their muffins were massive and packed with berries. But the best part was on top there was a hunk of cream cheese, baked into the muffin and lightly crusted with sugar. That nugget of cheesey goodness POPPED with the flavour of the muffin.
When I was home for those seven weeks in the fall I cruised the Chocolate Claim a number of times, never coming across my beloved muffin, or the bread pudding muffin (sigh). And really, I forgot about them until two days ago when my friend and I were in Costco and he decided to buy a pack of blackberries. I got home, looked in my fridge, wanting to bake up something delicious and thought, cream cheese and blackberries would be good… BLACKBERRY AND CREAM CHEESE MUFFINS! So here we are, I picked up some blackberries of my own and went about making my own version. Truly, these are nothing like the ones up north, they are half the size and have a lot less heft. But they are delicious with a crunch on the top and fluffy insides. These muffins bring the same flavour-combo joy to my mouth. In the future I will truly try to recreate the grain-and-oat filled CC versions, but in the meantime, these are an incredible treat, in fact they are almost cupcake-like compared to the density of the originals.
** additional brainwave! If there are any of these muffins still sitting around after a week (pft, ya right!), these would make an incredible muffin pudding!
Blackberry Cream Cheese Muffins
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup half and half (can use milk)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tbsp + 1tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups blackberries, rinsed and dried
- 2 oz cream cheese
- brown sugar for sprinkling
- Heat oven to 375°F. Line two muffin tins (about 20 muffins) with paper liners. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the 8oz of cream cheese until light smooth. Add the butter and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs and beat until smooth. Add the milk and vanilla, mix to combine. At this point it is very liquidy, don’t fear!
- Sprinkle in your baking powder and salt, top with half of the flour and sugar. Mix to just combine. Add the remaining amount and mix again to combine.
- Add the blackberries and carefully fold in, distributing them throughout the batter.
- Scoop the batter into your prepared tins, filling the cups about 2/3 of the way.
- Slice the 2 oz of cream cheese into enough pieces to top all the muffins. Lightly press the cream cheese chunk into the top of the muffin and sprinkle generously with brown sugar.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins are firm and golden.