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10 Pumpkin Dishes to Try in Houston, #8: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin from Stone Mill Bakers

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I adore pumpkin. It's orange (my favorite color), healthful (fiber! Vitamin A!), and associated with two lovely, food-centric holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving). Starting around October, I always find myself on the hunt for pumpkin-flavored foods, and this autumn is no exception. So, between now and Turkey Day, I will be counting down 10 Pumpkin Dishes to Try in Houston.

#8: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin from Stone Mill Bakers

While I love most any carbohydrate cooked in an oven, I have never been especially keen on muffins. With a sweetness level somewhere in between cake and bread, muffins occupy an awkward position in the world of baked goods. They're too much like cupcakes to eat for breakfast, and for dessert, well, I'd rather have a brownie. When, really, do people eat these things?

I probably would have never tried the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin from Stone Mill Bakers had it not contained my favorite squash and cream cheese, another one of my food weaknesses. It was just less than $2 with tax, so I figured this was one food mistake I could afford to make.

Lucky for me it wasn't. This was the rare muffin that is indeed sweet but also contains other elements that sufficiently temper the sugar, so that the overall effect is far from cloying. Nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice as well as the fibrous pumpkin rendered the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin full-bodied and hearty, like something that might fuel hikers on the Appalachian Trail. The large vein of mild cream cheese enhanced the overall moistness and nicely complemented the more pungent fall spices.

I ate my muffin at room temperature with a cold glass of milk. If you're feeling adventurous, however, try heating it slightly in the microwave and adding a little cinnamon butter.

By the way, I figured out that for me the perfect time for muffins is long after breakfast and dessert, sometime just before bed, when you're feeling slightly peckish in your slippers and jammies.

The list to date: #10: Pumpkin Cheesecake Balls at Chocolat Du Monde #9: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

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