Spiced Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

Being the good American that I am, whenever I see an awesome recipe, I think, “How can I make that into a dessert?” So when I was flipping through the whimsical Tassajara Bread Book last year and spied the artfully named “Festival Spice Muffins,” I immediately decided they could use a nice cream cheese frosting on them.

And let me tell you something: The Tassajara Bread Book (and the Tassajara Recipe Book) is exactly something you’d expect to come out of a Zen Mountain Center in northern California during the 70s. Hence the whole wheat, “festival” aspect; surprisingly, though, there is no mention of what seemed like the inevitable main ingredient: marijuana. No, these muffins are above that, thank you very much — they fortified monks-in-training and summer guests who came to experience the loveliness of a quiet, unplugged zen lifestyle for a few days, like my parents. (It’s funny to think that pre-internet people needed to leave their busy lives behind to return to a simpler time. What did they do all day, anyway?).

But I digress. While these are technically called muffins (and are pretty great on their own), they really shine as cupcakes.

Whole Wheat Festival Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting (from The Tassajara Bread Book):

For the Muffins

Ingredients (makes 1 dozen large muffins):

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mace (though I left this out, because I didn’t feel like buying it)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a muffin tin, or add in some cupcake liners.

Combine dry ingredients (and feel free to add a little more or less of the spices  — I added a little extra cinnamon and nutmeg) and mix.

Combine wet ingredients and mix.

Fold the wet and dry ingredients together, until flour is moistened (basically, don’t over-mix it).

Pour mix into the muffin tin.

Bake for about 20 minutes. While the muffins cool, make the frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:


  • 1/2 lb confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter (melted)

Beat all the ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate the muffins once they are frosted.


2 responses to “Spiced Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. bridget gallant

    They look delicious, Hollis👍

  2. I will never forget our time at Tassajara! The meals were outstanding, as I’m sure the muffins are!
    Thanks, Hollis!

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