Soft Baked Mini Cream Cheese Puffs

These little puffballs came to be because another recipe failed. It’s so frustrating when that happens.

But now I have a stellar recipe for cream cheese puffs that are ready in 15 minutes flat. Silver linings.

The failed recipe was for vegan banana muffins with a brown sugar streusel. I have a great vegan banana muffin recipe and all I was changing was adding streusel to the top, but it was apparently too heavy for the eggless dough and the muffins collapsed. They tasted great, but weren’t pretty enough to blog about.

I still had muffins on my brain, and pulled out two mini muffin pans, without knowing what  batter I was going to make to fill them.

Something fast, easy, and fuss-free were requirements. Time was ticking. Make something. Hurry up. Daylight is burning. The days are getting shorter. Hurry up. Think. Think. Think. No more recipe fails. That was going on in my head.

I looked around my fridge and grabbed a nearly used container of spreadable light cream cheese, leftover from the Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars, along with one stick of butter. To that I added 1 cup flour, baking powder, salt, and milk.

There are only 4 ingredients in these puffs, 6 if you count baking powder and salt.

The batter takes about 3 minutes to come together, and with less than 12 minutes to bake, you’ll be popping warm, fresh, soft bread in 15 minutes. They’re like 15-minute dinner rolls or biscuits, minus kneading, rolling, or cutting out. You can’t beat it.

I put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl except the milk, and beat it together with my hand mixer. The batter was extremely thick and I drizzled in milk to thin it. I used 3/4 cup milk, you’ll probably use about the same, but because ingredients vary, you may need slightly more or less. The batter is very thick, pasty, dense, and far thicker than your average muffin batter.

You could likely keep them vegan by using vegan varieties of butter, cream cheese, and milk, and since there’s no egg, a vegan version seems very plausible, but I haven’t tried it. I had one failed vegan muffin recipe, and wasn’t willing to push my luck that day.

Unlike my failed banana muffins, the puffs rise extremely well. Filling the cavities of your muffin pan to three-quarters full using 1 rounded tablespoon of batter is ideal.

I made 20 mini puffs, and while I’m sure you can bake them in a standard size muffin pan for a longer duration, part of the charm is the mini size. Mini food is so much more fun to eat, and I swear it tastes better.

However, mini food, especially muffins, can turn so dry, so quickly. The fat in the butter and cream cheese helps prevent that. They’re moist, buttery, and squishy soft.

Be sure not to overbake them. Baking for 11 to 12 minutes was perfect for me and any longer than 12 minutes, and they would have turned too dark of a brown around the base, which you can’t see until you release the puffs from the pan. Bake until they’re set and springy to the touch, but don’t wait for the tops to turn golden. They won’t, and will stay very white.

You could add warming spices to the batter like cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg; or go savory with garlic, onion, smoked paprika. The flavor reads more buttery than cream cheesey and they’re a perfect blank canvas, receptive to many different spices and seasonings.

The interior texture is a cross between an English muffin and a traditional biscuit, with lots of nooks and crannies, perfect for drenching with butter, jam, honey, or smearing on cream cheese.

Use them as the dippers for your favorite dips or chutneys, or serve them with soup.

Warm and fresh from the oven, these things were like Pringles. Once you pop, you can’t stop.

Soft Baked Mini Cream Cheese Puffs

These mini cream cheese puffs are soft, light, buttery and fast to make. From start to finish, just 15 minutes separates you from warm, fresh bread. The interior texture is a cross between an English muffin and a traditional biscuit, with lots of nooks and crannies, perfect for drenching with butter, jam, honey, or smearing on cream cheese. You could add warming spices to the batter like cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg; or go savory with garlic, onion, smoked paprika. They’re a perfect blank canvas, receptive to many different spices. Eat them as is, or as dippers for your favorite dips, chutneys, or soup. Note the batter is very thick, dense, and paste-like; and don’t overbake. They’ll be prone to burning and turning too dark around the base after about 11-12 minutes so watch them closely.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temp
1/2 cup cream cheese (reduced fat or light cream cheese is okay; I used Trader Joe’s spreadable light)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
about 3/4 cup milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F and spray  mini muffin pans with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pans; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except milk and beat with an electric mixer to combine, about 2 minutes on medium high speed. Mixture will be very crumbly, with pebbles and sandy bits.
  3. Slowly drizzle in up to 3/4 cup milk; just enough so that batter will combine and come together. Note – this batter is very thick and paste-like, and I only used 3/4 cup milk. If yours is thick to the point you can’t stir it, add milk, as necessary to thin it.
  4. Using a tablespoon or small cookie scoop that’s been sprayed with cooking spray (helps batter slide off spoon or scoop easily), form rounded 1 tablespoon mounds and place mounds into prepared pans. Each cavity of pan should be filled about 3/4 full. The cavities are small and the batter is thick, and it’s okay if  they’re not all filled exactly uniformly. As the bake, batter that was placed in the pan in a very rounded fashion (like a perfect scoop of ice cream) will bake up more domed and puffed than batter that was just smooshed in. They rise very well; be careful not to overfill.
  5. Bake for about 11 to 12 minutes, or until puffs are springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don’t overbake because they’ll be prone to becoming dry and the bases will turn overly dark (and you can’t see this until you release them from the pans). Allow puffs to cool in pans for about 10 minutes, or until they’ve firmed up and are cool enough to handle. Puffs are best fresh, but will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Serve plain or with butter, cream cheese, jam/jelly, honey, chutney, dips, soup.
Only Eats

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Any notable baking fails you can remember?