Sour Cream Cinnamon Streusel Muffins with Pecan Filling
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Inside of Cinnamon Streusel Muffin

I’ve never been a huge fan of crumb-topped coffee cakes.  I’ve had so many that were dry and boring that I decided early on that I’m just not really into coffee cake.  But my mom used to make one called a Sour Cream Pound Cake and I loved it.  It’s not actually a pound cake since it starts with a box of cake mix and contains oil instead of butter, but it’s delicious nonetheless.  The fun thing about the cake is that it contains surprise layers of cinnamon cocoa pecan streusel throughout.

I always thought it was odd that the name of the cake doesn’t even hint at all the delicious flavors contained inside.

About a month ago, I started thinking about cinnamon muffins.  I’ve been having a love affair with the new McCormick Gourmet Roasted Saigon Cinnamon and you all know how much I love making muffins.  It was natural that the two should come together.  I decided to try making a cinnamon muffin that was loosely based on my mom’s sour cream pound cake, so I started playing around with the idea of tucking a layer of cinnamon pecan streusel inside the muffins.

While I was at it, I decided to add a streusel topping to the muffins as well, essentially turning them into mini coffee cakes.  But these are coffee cakes that I actually enjoy!

It took several batches before I finally got it right, but the end result is wonderful.  They are mini sour cream cinnamon cakes filled with a layer of brown sugar, pecans, cocoa and cinnamon.  The streusel topping also contains cinnamon with a hint of cocoa.

If you’re still reading this post, chances are you’re a cinnamon lover.  But how much do you really know about cinnamon?  Here are some fun facts from McCormick’s Enspicelopedia:

Botanically Speaking

Cinnamon is the dried bark of tropical evergreen trees of the genus Cinnamomum. A thin layer of bark is stripped from the tree and dried in the sun, which makes it curl into the familiar quill shape of stick cinnamon. Cinnamon is characteristically woody, musty, and earthy in flavor and aroma. It is available as whole sticks, ground and as extract.

Yum Factor

One bite of hot buttered toast with cinnamon and sugar explains this spice’s enduring popularity. It is a fixture in North American and European baking, flavoring sticky buns, raisin bread, custards and creams, cookies and candy. In Spain and Mexico, it is often paired with chocolate. But cinnamon has the personality for savory dishes as well. Chili is often sparked by its warmth, as are Middle Eastern and North African dishes like lamb tagine and chicken stew. To go Indian style, try adding a pinch to rice pilaf with chopped dried apricots and green onions.

Globetrotter’s Guide

Today’s cinnamon is sourced from four countries. Cinnamomum burmannii, the most common form used in the U.S., hails from Indonesia. Saigon cinnamon, Cinnamomun loureirii, from Vietnam is considered the finest because of its high volatile oil content. Chinese cinnamon, Cinnamomum cassia, is the base of Chinese Five Spice blends. And Cinnamomum zeylanicum, from Sri Lanka, has a mild flavor and distinctive citrus note that make it popular in Mexican and Central American cooking.

Believe it… or not

Once considered a prized gift for royalty, cinnamon has a long and colorful history. Ancient Egyptians used it for cosmetics and embalming, sending buying expeditions to present-day Somalia in hopes of obtaining it by sea through spice-trading routes from Southeast Asia. The word cinnamon means “sweet wood” in Malay. The Romans believed cinnamon to be sacred and burned it at funerals. Cinnamon was one of the first spices sought in the 15th century European explorations, and some say it indirectly led to the discovery of America. Biblical references focused on its sensual fragrance; Solomon, in a song about his beloved, reveled in her cinnamon-scented clothing.

So are you cinnamon lovers ready to make some muffins?  This is how you do it:

Before starting the batter, you should mix up the pecan filling and cinnamon streusel.  In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and chopped pecans.  I like to mix it with my fingers so that I can break up any lumps in the brown sugar.

Cinnamon Cocoa Pecan Filling

Next, make the streusel topping.  Mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and cocoa, then rub the butter into the mixture with your fingertips (or cut the butter in with a pastry blender) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stick the streusel topping in the refrigerator while you make the batter.

Cinnamon Streusel Topping

To make the batter, you’ll mix the wet and dry ingredients separately then combine them in a large mixing bowl.

Pour Wet Ingredients into Dry

Stir the batter until well combined, making sure to scrape your spoon along the bottom of the bowl to ensure all the flour gets mixed in.

Sour Cream Cinnamon Streusel Muffin Batter

Fill the muffin cups about 1/4 full, about a tablespoon of muffin batter.  I used a small cookie scoop for this, but you can use a spoon.  Make sure not to add too much batter at this point or you’ll run out of batter for the top layer.

Adding Bottom Layer of Muffin Batter

Muffin Cups 1/4 Full of Batter

Now add the filling.  Pour rounded tablespoons of pecan filling over the bottom layers of batter.

Adding Pecan Filling

Pecan Layer

Next, add the second layer of batter.  This time, you’ll be adding twice as much batter, about two tablespoons per muffin cup.  I used my larger cookie scoop for this, but you can use a spoon.  The cups will be filled almost to the top.

Adding Top Layer of Muffin Batter

Muffin Cups Filled with Batter

Now it’s time for the streusel.  Top each with a round tablespoon of streusel topping.

Streusel Topping

Cinnamon Streusel Muffins Ready for Oven

Bake muffins in a preheated 375 degree oven for 21-23 minutes, or until muffins spring back when lightly touched in the center or a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Let cool for a few minutes in the tin, then transfer muffins to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Cinnamon Streusel Muffins Out of the Oven

Enjoy!

Inside the Sour Cream Cinnamon Streusel Muffin

As mentioned in a previous post, I have been chosen by McCormick to participate in the McCormick Real Gourmets program. I have been paid by them and I received a big box full of McCormick Gourmet spices. I have been using McCormick Gourmet for years, and am thrilled for the opportunity to explore more of their spices and blends.  I used McCormick Gourmet Roasted Saigon Cinnamon when creating this muffin recipe.

Sour Cream Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

filling:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

streusel topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

batter:
2 cups cake flour, about 8 oz*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Place rack in the center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cups or spray with nonstick baking spray.

2. Make filling:  mix filling ingredients in a small bowl with a spoon or your fingers until well combined; set aside.

3. Make streusel topping:  In a separate bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and cocoa. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; store in refrigerator while making batter.

4. Make batter:  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt until well combined.  In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, butter, milk, eggs,  sugar, and vanilla.  Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined, making sure to scrape all the flour off the bottom of the bowl when stirring.

5. Using a spoon or small cookie scoop, fill each muffin cup about 1/4 of the way with batter (about a tablespoon of batter).  Add a rounded tablespoon of pecan filling to each muffin cup, then top with remaining batter (about 2 tablespoons batter per cup).  Top batter with about a tablespoon of streusel topping per cup.

6. Bake muffins in the center of a preheated 375 degree oven for 21-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Recipe notes: *Measure cake flour by spooning flour into a dry measuring cup then leveling off with a knife.  If you prefer to weigh your flour, one cup of cake flour is 4 oz.  There is no need to sift the flour.

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23 Comments
  1. Samantha Ullrich

    My mouth is officially watering! I bet these are so tasty… I might just have to try them out this weekend =)

    2:34 pm  Feb 28th, 2011
  2. Jenny Flake

    Love your recipe, I can practically taste that yummy streusel inside! Yum!

    2:45 pm  Feb 28th, 2011
  3. Melinda

    Yum! Also, do you think I can just whip some cinnamon sticks in my dresser drawers for a bit of that cinnamon-scented clothing that Solomon liked so much? Seems like a much more palatable way to up the sexy factor than dousing one’s self with flower-scented chemicals… let’s bring it back!

    3:08 pm  Feb 28th, 2011
  4. Nicole

    That is some serious Streusel. My kind of muffin for sure!

    3:11 pm  Feb 28th, 2011
  5. magali

    Great recipe thanks for sharing!!

    4:28 pm  Feb 28th, 2011
  6. vanillasugarblog

    oh yes, i am ready!
    this is how it should be done from now on.
    perfect!

    6:14 pm  Feb 28th, 2011
  7. Erin

    These look out of this world spectacular!

    7:44 pm  Feb 28th, 2011
  8. Ang

    My eye has been on these all day! Well since you posted them anyway. They look and sound amazing; how can they not be. I’m totally stoked to make them!

    10:21 pm  Feb 28th, 2011
  9. Sarah

    I love that this muffin can serve as breakfast and dessert. Versatility! ;)

    1:02 am  Mar 1st, 2011
  10. MandyM

    I can almost smell the cinnamon right here at work! These really do look so tasty, perfect for a brunch or snack with coffee in the afternoon. Yum!

    5:14 am  Mar 1st, 2011
  11. Amanda

    YUM. These look beautiful. I want them now!

    7:08 am  Mar 1st, 2011
  12. DoubleH47

    I Will try this. I have a grandson who can not have nuts. Can you use Rice Crispies instead of the pecans?

    8:51 am  Mar 1st, 2011
  13. Erin @ epiCURIOUS ERIN

    This combines so many of the things I love I cannot wait to try this recipe. Great idea!

    1:55 pm  Mar 1st, 2011
  14. Nicole

    DoubleH47: I wouldn’t suggest using rice crispies as a substitute because I don’t think they will stay crisp. You can just leave out the pecans and use only the cinnamon/sugar/cocoa mixture in the filling. When adding the filling, use a rounded teaspoon rather than tablespoon.

    1:57 pm  Mar 1st, 2011
  15. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction

    Wow… These muffins look incredible. I love the pecan filling!

    2:45 pm  Mar 1st, 2011
  16. Connie

    My husband can not eat chocolate so I hope it is OK to leave that out of the filling and topping.

    3:30 pm  Mar 1st, 2011
  17. Nicole

    Connie – It would be fine to leave out the cocoa powder!

    3:32 pm  Mar 1st, 2011
  18. Laura

    I did not care for crumb cakes/coffee cakes until I started making them myself– they are frequently way too dry. These look fantastic.

    1:34 pm  Mar 2nd, 2011
  19. A Canadian Foodie

    Great picture tutorial. My students love crumb toppings. I have honestly, and truly, never had a dry one – but, I don’t eat anything but homemade. I love the filling in the middle like a coffee cake. Did you try swirling it once?
    :)
    Valerie

    6:59 pm  Mar 2nd, 2011
  20. Michelle

    Wonderful! I’m totally loving that filling and crumb topping.

    12:19 pm  Mar 7th, 2011
  21. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes)

    I’m the oppositre, I lovee crumb toppings. These muffins look amazing. Bookmarked and stumbled

    6:44 am  Mar 13th, 2011
  22. mikem

    I stumbled across the McCormicks Saigon Cinnamon recently. It’s now my “secret” ingredient in my oatmeal muffins and home made granola. Is it demonstrably better than “normal” cinnamon? I have no scientific proof, but my wife who has always been a cinnamon hater seems to be gobbling down everything I make with this stuff. Eager to give this recipe a go; looks like it will be a winner.

    8:03 am  Mar 21st, 2011
  23. Lisa B.

    Just made a batch of these and they’re delicious! The filling makes enough for two batches, so I may just need to do another batch tomorrow night. What a great recipe – it’s going in my permanent file.

    6:25 pm  Apr 27th, 2011
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