Year of Muffins
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It might look like a deflated chef's hat, but this is, in fact, a delicious apple pie muffin.  Can I just take a moment and describe the alluring cinnamon apple aroma that was wafting around the kitchen when these were baking?  Can I tell you how many times the kids asked if the muffins were done yet?  Can I just admit that I ate two of them while they were still so hot I burned my tongue with the apple bits and I don't even care?


The edges of the muffin top are chewy/crispy and the inside is full of diced apple bits held together by moist, spongy muffin.  My advice?  Go make these now. I mean right now.


Here's the recipe (from The Best Apple Pie Muffins Ever


I think that mine turned out a little different than the ones on the website because I was in a hurry and didn't fret too much about measuring.  My topping was not really crumbly, it was more of a butter/brown sugar paste, and thus it sank into the middle rather than being a crumbly streusel topping...but I think it was a happy accident because dang it was delicious.

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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Karen Lynn · 12/13/11 5:30 AM)

You know how shortbread cookies are not very sweet, and better with coffee?  This month's muffins, from a Martha Stewart recipe, remind me of those.  They have a very subtle pumpkin spice flavor, but the smell when they're baking is out of this world.


You bite into them thinking you're going to get a big hit of pumpkin pie flavor, but it's really more like pumpkin bread with a muffin texture.  Oh, there's also a crusty butter/cinnamon topping on it, which doesn't hurt. 


There were a lot of comments on the original recipe page about it being "too floury" or too bland.  I felt that way after the first bite, but late, after they cooled down and I ate another one, I decided that I really liked them.  They are moist, springy, and delicious, and they get you prepped for Thanksgiving.



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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Lori · 11/10/11 6:14 PM)

Yes, you knew I would get around the chocolate muffins one of these days, didn't you?


This particular recipe, from Nigella Lawson via, had a lot of commentary.  Basically it all came down to "the muffins are sorta dry."  I read all of the comments, and decided that I would add a tablespoon of sour cream.  Some had advocated adding more cocoa powder, but I've had bad results from doing that in the past (cocoa powder doesn't really give more chocolatey flavor at a certain just tastes powdery).

The first muffin I tried filled me with ambivalence.  Even with some sour cream, they were a bit dry.  By the time I had my second muffin, the chewiness and the chocolate chips had grown on me.  Essentially, go into it expecting a muffin, not a piece of chocolate cake, and you won't be disappointed. I had a third muffin today


One final tip---depending on how hot your oven gets, you might need to watch them closely.  I ended up baking them at 350 degrees for 17 minutes.


Here's the recipe (be sure to read the comments too): Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Muffins




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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 1 (Last: Lori · 10/14/11 4:36 PM)

These were supposed to be Oatmeal Currant, but I happened to have a bag of Craisins and decided to substitute.


Here's the recipe, from Epicurious: Oatmeal Muffins


What caught my eye about this originally was the fact that the recipe goes back to the 1940's.  If a recipe lasts that long, it HAS to be good.


Aside from substituting Craisins for the currants, I followed the recipe exactly, and they turned out wonderfully!  They have a nice crispy layer on top, with a moist cakey interior.  I did pull them out of the oven about 5 minutes early because they looked nice and golden, so you might want to just keep an eye on them.  Ovens do vary.


The interesting thing is that you almost can't tell that there are oats in these.  The brown sugar flavor comes through, and they just taste very satisfying and hearty, without being too heavy.


And if you haven't ever tried Craisins...go get some! They are the cranberry version of a raisin, and I think they're lightly sweetened as well.  Delicious as an afternoon munchie or in recipes.


The final word on these---thumbs up!  Finn said, "These are yummy can I have one for dinner?"




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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Bek · 9/30/11 6:20 PM)

You didn't think that a little location change would interrupt the Year of Muffins, did you?  Of course not.  My mother-in-law graciously allowed me to mess up her kitchen to make the July muffins, Cheddar Corn with jalapeno butter, from Epicurious.


These are fairly standard to make, put together the dry stuff, put together the wet stuff, and try not to stir it too much.  I'm not sure I've completely mastered that technique yet, as I'm still vainly searching for that light, fluffy, ethereal muffin of my dreams. 


One wrinkle with these muffins is that they were my only savory ones in the list.  We had them with taco night.


I accidentally cooked them using the convection mode, in addition to using a dark nonstick pan, so they ultimately were about 10 minutes overdone.  I'd recommend checking them pretty early in the cooking process to make sure you don't have the same problem.  Even "bricked" they tasted pretty good; the jalapeno butter was a very nice addition, so don't skip it.  You can use mild green chiles if you're afraid of heat.


One final recommendation is to eat them hot out of the oven.  The melted cheese on top is best when still warm.


...and by the way, isn't that a pretty plate?



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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Lori · 7/7/11 9:31 AM)

Brown Sugar muffin recipe via


They ain't pretty, but they're delicious!  Just goes to show you can't judge a book by its cover, right?  I did take one liberty with the recipe---I changed the macadamia nuts into walnuts because certain customers of mine don't care for macadamias so much (and I had several bags of walnuts in the pantry).


If you look at the recipe, you'll notice that they recommend eating this with some jam, but I found them pretty sweet just by themselves.  The brown sugar flavor comes through very well; in fact, they almost remind you of Tollhouse cookies.  Hmmmmm....wonder what they would be like with chocolate chips in them instead of walnuts....might have to investigate that


The texture is nice and moist, with a light crumb and a slightly crispy exterior (my fave).  I cooked them for 15 minutes, the low end of the estimate, and I think any longer would be too long.


Next time I might try putting a crumble on top, or chips inside.  Butterscotch chips would go nicely too.



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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 3 (Last: Tina · 5/20/11 8:05 PM)

There's a top shelf in our pantry, loaded with the detritus of kitchen experiments past.  After several years of baking explorations (Year of Cakes through the current Year of Muffins), there's Agave Nectar, French sea salt, Calvados, Cream of Coconut, meringue powder, and more, just waiting for the next recipe.  It seems like when you buy these random ingredients, you only need to use a teaspoon and then you've got the whole rest of the container to use...


My new project is to find recipes that use these ingredients and go for it!



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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 5 (Last: MaryB · 5/13/11 5:54 AM)

In the box of doughnuts, I normally avoid the jelly-filled ones, but the idea of a jam-filled muffin seemed appealing.  And so we have April's IMG_1154Muffin of the Month, Jam-Filled Almond Muffins.  This recipe is from EatingWell Magazine (hence the whole-wheat flour, which I ditched).


The recipe is the usual process for muffins---whisk the dry stuff, whisk the wet stuff, then carefully combine.  Now that I'm four months into the Year of Muffins, I'm realizing that the combining is the trickiest part.  You need to only fold it about 10 times, otherwise the batter will turn leaden and dense.  Some type of alchemy occurs between the 10th and 11th strokes, apparently.  You must restrain yourself, even if there are bits of unstirred flour or brown sugar showing within the batter.  The only caveat is to ensure that you've whisked the daylights out of the dry ingredients, because no-one wants a mouthful of baking powder.


These muffins are delicious.  I used strawberry-rhubarb jam in the center, but I'll bet they'd be amazing with cherry or raspberry.  Adding a hint of almond extract to the jam brings out a wonderful aroma when you bite into the center.


One more tip---be sure to cover the jam completely when you put the second round of batter in.  If it's not completely covered, the jam will ooze out the sides.


I'm not a whole-wheat kinda gal, so I substituted regular flour in the recipe, but if you decide to make these according to the magazine's recipe, let me know!  I'm curious to know how that goes.



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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Rosemary O'Neill · 4/28/11 9:23 AM)

We were rolling along with the Year of Muffins---January and February were raving successes.  Ahem, we've hit a bump in the road this month.  The March lemon cheesecake muffins are a full-on FAIL.


But we never achieve greatness without experimentation, so I won't cry in my coffee too much.  What happened is that I combined two recipes, while tweaking one of them at the same time (the baking equivalent of a double twisting backflip off the balance beam).


Here's recipe #1: Lemon Cheesecake Muffins

I didn't want to use it as-is because I don't like poppy seeds, and there's a Year of... rule against using pre-packaged mixes.  But I liked the idea of cheesecake with lemon, inside a muffin. So, I took...


Recipe #2: Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

...I figured I could use this recipe to replace the boxed mix suggested in Recipe #1, pop in the cheesecake part of Recipe #1, and voila.


What happened? Possibly due to over-stirring, the muffin base turned out hard as a biscuit (a lemon-flavored biscuit, but still...).  I also might have cooked it a bit too long because the cheesecake center didn't appear to be fully cooked when the muffins were supposed to be done.  The flavors are actually not bad, but the texture is not good.  As my dad likes to say..."further research is required..."



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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: LittleOddMe · 3/28/11 7:19 PM)
Yep, it's mid-February, and time for another muffin adventure! 

When I set out to research recipes for the Year of Muffins, I specifically looked for a good cherry muffin recipe because I love cherries.  This one popped up on a website about inns and B&Bs.  Appropriate, because I can totally envision these muffins in a breakfast basket at a cozy little B&B.  Here's the recipe:

Flavor-wise, tIMG_0974he streusel topping is the star of this show.  It turns out chewy/crispy around the edges, and it's very buttery.  You might want to make these muffins just for the topping.  It's that good.

A word about the cherries...the recipe calls for thawed frozen cherries, but they turned a bit mushy and unappealing during the cooking process, with not a lot of cherry flavor.  I'm tempted to try making these again with fresh cherries or even cherry pie filling.  Also, although I coarsely chopped them (leaving a CSI-worthy mess), they were not well distributed in the muffins.  Next time, I'd slice them iIMG_0976nto quarters.

Unfortunately, the rest of the muffin is a bit overwhelmed by the cherries and the streusel.  So overall, I'm not sure if this is a make-again or not.  The recipe makes 6 jumbo muffins, but you could probably turn it into 10 regular sized muffins if you take the cooking time back a tad.

Bottom line, they are good, but not fantabulous.  But you might want to just make them as a batch of muffin tops.  Yes, the streusel is good.  Did I mention that?IMG_0978
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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Karen Lynn · 2/18/11 6:35 PM)
Stop whatever you're doing right now and make these muffins.  Seriously, you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry, and it will make you so happy.  The Year of Muffins is off to a wonderful start.

I can't begin to describe the delicious aroma that will come from your kitchen as these are cooking, but conjure banana, crispy pecans, nutmeg, and cinnamon all swirling around in your nose.

Here's the recipe:

The great thing about the recipe is that the author gave additional instructions about HOW to make them.  Apparently the key is to only mix gently, leaving bits of unmixed batter and lumps.  I was nervous about doing that, but went ahead, and it was super awesome.

And to cap it all off, they're absolutely beautiful to look at.  So really, go make them now.  You won't regret it.  (and thank you, Buster Bucks, whoever you are...)

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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 5 (Last: Rosemary O'Neill · 1/16/11 2:43 PM)
Taking the tree down, throwing out the leftover turkey, and hoping the trash man will pick up the 10 extra bags...these are the traditions of the last week of the year around here.  But we do have another tradition that's going on six years strong: the year of goodies. 

Inspired by Martha Stewart's Year of Cakes, I've been choosing twelve interesting recipes each year, with a theme, for the last five years.  For me, the idea is to learn new techniques, acquire new bakeware (yeah, I'll cop to that), and possibly discover some new favorite recipes.  Over the years we've had some doozies (full-on failure of financiers).  And I finally learned how to make a good scratch pie crust (ice water and a Cuisinart are the keys).

So, without further ado, I'd like to pronounce 2011 the Year of Muffins.  It was the most-suggested idea, and it will be fun to mix it up a bit, having breakfast instead of dessert.

A couple of notes:

1. You will find no healthy muffins in this list.  I do not like them.
2. I only included one savory muffin, because that seems like a different project.

The Year of Muffins

January - World's Best (and easiest!) Banana Nut Muffins
February - Cherry Streusel Muffins
March - Lemon Cheesecake Muffins
April - Raspberry Almond Muffins
May - Brown Sugar Macadamia Muffins
June - Very Blueberry
July - Cheddar Corn with Jalapeno Butter
August - Doughnut Muffins
September - Oatmeal Raisin Muffins
October - Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins
November - Pumpkin Muffins
December - Best Apple Pie Muffins
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 1 (Last: Queen Mother of the · 12/30/10 5:11 PM)
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