The Monthly Muffin: Blueberry Flax Seed Muffin

I didn’t take any “in progress” photos because I really went off-roading with this recipe and you know that when I take a huge detour from the recipe, things happen. Unspeakable things. Or, at least, inedible things.

To my shock, that didn’t happen here. I ended up with a nice, healthy muffin that I’m going to make again.

Blueberry Flax Muffin

It’s okay, you can be surprised too. We’re all friends here.

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Coffee Cake Muffins

After subjecting my household to an uber-healthy muffin, I decided to go in the opposite direction with dessert-style treat: The coffee cake muffin.

This soft and sweet muffin was also meant to have a drizzle of sugar icing over the top, but when they came out of the oven they looked and smelled so amazing that we didn’t wait to add that step. I’m sure it would have been great.

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Whole Wheat Bran Muffins with Figs and Pecans

This weekend I was in the mood for a healthier muffin, so I pulled this mouthful from Bon Appetit: Whole Wheat Bran Muffins with Figs and Pecans.

And I liked that it gave me a reason to use the wheat flour and oat bran I have sitting in my pantry.

I liked these muffins and I’m sure you’ll like them too — provided you don’t mind the distinct flavor of oat bran. And I have to say that the most ironic thing about them is that these very healthy muffins are best served warm with butter.

Yep. Bake up something that’s healthy for your bod, then slather it all in tasty, tasty butter.

What, you have a problem with that?

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Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins

Welcome back to The Monday Muffin! I’m pretty excited to share this one, since I’ve not been so excited about a muffin since we discovered Mizz Nezz’s Banana Muffins. This one throws its hat into the ring for the title of Greatest Muffin Ever and has a shot at taking it home.

There’s no sugar or streusel topping for this muffin and you won’t miss it. The cake has the perfect amount of sweetness and the blueberries bring a delectable burst of freshness. The cinnamon goes very well with the blueberries — not to mention your house will smell incredible while the muffins are baking.

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The Monday Muffin: Chocolate Cherry Muffin

Last week, I mentioned that I was going to try and be better about the in-process photos. This weekend, I made two amazing things that I can’t wait to share and I definitely concentrated more on the process shots. Unfortunately, with the muffins, that’s kind of all I got. After they came out of the oven and I put them on the cooling rack, I forgot to take that last shot. It doesn’t really matter; you’ll easily understand that they’re muffins by the shot of them looking so perky in the pan.

Chocolate Cherry Muffins in Oven

If you follow my twitter account then you already know the muffin and where it hails from, via the weekly muffin sneak peek: Chocolate Cherry Muffins from Gourmet. They’re a cake-like muffin, rich in chocolate and riddled with chocolate chips and dried cherries. They’re very rich and best served warm, while the chocolate chips are oozing inside the cake. However, when they’re room temperature or chilled from the fridge and served with your hot beverage of choice, you’re not going to be disappointed. The addition of the tart, dried cherries is nice, as it offsets the richness of the chocolate. Without the cherries, the concentrated power of chocolate would be too much.

When melting the chocolate into the butter and milk, be sure to use a double-boiler, or a small pot and a heatproof bowl. Fill the pot with 1 – 2″ water, and set the bowl on top. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. This method of melting chocolate is best as it never scorches your chocolate.

After the chocolate is melted, the mixture will seem a little grainy, even after whisking. Don’t worry, because adding the two eggs will create a glossy texture. There are two ways to add the eggs. The first way is to do it as written, and wait for chocolate mixture to cool prior to adding the eggs. The second way is if you don’t have time to let the mixture cool completely. Don’t add the eggs to the hot mixture. Let it cool for a couple of minutes, then whisk the eggs. Take 1/2 cup of the chocolate mixture and slowly add it to the eggs, whisking as you pour. Once the egg mixture is thoroughly combined, slowly add it to the chocolate mixture, whisking as you pour. This will keep your eggs from curdling.

Chocolate Cherry Muffin Batter

Chocolate Cherry Muffins
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried sour cherries (4 oz)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat butter and half of chocolate in milk in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until just melted. Remove from heat. Cool 15 minutes. Add eggs and whisk until smooth.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until combined well. Add chocolate mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in remaining chocolate and cherries.

Divide among 12 greased (1/2-cup) muffin cups. Bake until a tester comes out clean, 14 to 18 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 to 10 minutes.

Muffin in tin

These muffins are definitely a guilty pleasure and I like them very much. Comparing them to my all-time favorite banana muffin is a little difficult because these are a completely different animal. They are delicious, and would be a really fun treat to serve in the coming holiday season. Thumbs up!

The Monday Muffin: Spiced Yogurt Muffins

Surprise, surprise — I actually made the deadline for the Monday Muffin segment. After a very long afternoon, I debated whether or not to slack off until about 9:00 last night, when I figured I should just get off my butt and whip up some muffins. They aren’t that time consuming, I was just feeling lazy and I knew no one would be surprised if suddenly they appeared on Tuesday.

But before we get into the Monday Muffin, a little housekeeping: Last week I posted a turkey burger for our Magazine of the Month, Bon Appetit. I must have been having some sort of brain fart because I made the post title “August” when it is, in fact, September and, though CC and I had a good discussion about his choice of magazine, for some reason I thought he wanted to do the August Bon Appetit. After I posted the burger (which was the August cover), he mentioned to me that he wanted to post some roast chicken thing, which was the cover. And that’s when I realized something was wrong because you really can’t have two covers. So, I changed the post title and the recipes link to the September edition of BA, but the burger is from the August edition. This month we’ll just make the MoM a Choose Your Own Bon Appetit Adventure. Go to page 23 to make a burger, go to page 47 to make a chicken, and then go to page 95 for Chef Ramsay to hit you over the head with a cold scallop and then you die.

And now, back to the Monday Muffin: Spiced Yogurt Muffins.

Spiced Yogurt Muffins 2

I was in the mood for something a little different so when I saw this on Food & Wine, I went for it. The spices in the muffin are distinctly a fall flavor and would be perfectly suited to serve for a breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. What surprised me was the texture of this muffin. Because it calls for 1 1/4 cups of lowfat yogurt, the insides are a bit creamy, almost like you’re eating a light pumpkin pie. If you like pumpkin pie and that texture, you’ll be pleased. I baked these with and without paper cups, and the muffins without the cups ended up with a goofy, gummy consistency around the base of the muffin. The muffins that baked in the paper were fine, so bake these in the paper cups. The recipe says it makes 18 muffins, but they come out rather small so just do yourself a favor and put them all into the single muffin tray and bake for a couple of minutes longer.

Spiced Yogurt Muffins 1

Spiced Yogurt Muffins
Courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plain low-fat yogurt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line 18 muffin cups with paper or foil liners. Lightly spray the liners with vegetable oil spray.

In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of the nutmeg and pulse to blend; transfer to a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, butter, applesauce and vanilla. Fold the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg over the muffins. Bake for 18 minutes, until the muffins are springy; let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Spiced Yogurt Muffins 3

Strawberry-Banana Muffins

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the possibility of doing a “Monday Muffin” segment with the caveat that my ability to keep to a regular blogging schedule is very poor. Case in point, I skipped out on the muffin entirely last week and now it’s Wednesday!

At least I went and made a “Muffins” category to support my nasty muffin habit.

Strawberry Banana Muffins 4

So here’s the Monday muffin for this week. It comes to us from Joy of Baking, and I had really high hopes: Banana-Strawberry Muffins. I chose it because we’ve made strawberry muffins and banana muffins, and this combines the two into one. Can we go wrong with that?

We’re about to find out.

These little treats are a banana bread base with chopped strawberries spread throughout. To keep the strawberries from sinking, they are mixed into the flour before being added to the wet ingredients.

Strawberries in Flour

Beyond coating the strawberries in the flour mixture, the way to make these muffins are straightforward. Mix the wet ingredients, add the dry ingredients, bake.

Strawberry-Banana Muffins
Courtesy of Joy of Baking

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 cup fresh strawberries cut into bite sized pieces
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position rack in center of oven. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or grease with butter or a vegetable spray.

In a small saucepan melt the butter. Set aside. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and mashed banana. Add the melted butter to the brown sugar mixture and stir to combine.

In another large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gently fold in the berries, making sure they are coated with flour. This helps to prevent the berries from sinking during baking. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake until a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

These are okay. I probably won’t make them again. The banana flavor in these was a little muted — now that could be because my bananas weren’t totally brown so I didn’t get a lot of the syrup taste, but I’m pretty sure it’s just the muffin. The strawberry chunks, though nice, weren’t pronounced enough. There also just weren’t enough. To make sure you get a good spread of strawberries in this, I’d recommend upping the amount to 1 1/2 cups of chopped strawberries.

Strawberry Banana Muffin 2

To be honest, the Smashed-Strawberry Muffins we made a couple of weeks ago were better and the Banana Nut Muffins before that are still the best we’ve made. These were nice, but that’s it. They didn’t give me the wow factor I was hoping for. Maybe if I had put a little sugary streusel on top they would have been saved, but there’s already enough going on in this muffin that I didn’t want to overload the flavors. This gets a solid C grade.

Strawberry Smashed Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar Topping

Welcome back from the weekend — it’s Muffin Monday! Okay, I just made that up. Over the weekends I’ve been making new muffins for the work week, so it just made sense to declare Mondays “Muffin Mondays”. I have no idea how long I’ll keep to it; my ability to stick to a blog schedule hasn’t been all that stellar. My biggest fear is that I’ll eventually run out of muffins to make. Eventually I’d have to get into the bizarre kinds and I’m not so sure if I want to do that. Sometimes I like playing it safe. Case in point: Strawberry Smashed Muffins.

Strawberry Smashed Muffins with Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

I like muffins, not only because they’re delicious and are easy to eat, but because they’re really quick and simple to make. Throwing together a good, easy batter takes all of 15 minutes and everything can be quickly cleaned while the muffins bake.

Berry Smashed Muffins - Batter

A multitude of berries can be used for these muffins; I selected strawberries. Raspberries would also be delicious and appropriate for anyone who is leery of lots of sweetness. The sweetness isn’t overbearing; my fear was that it would come out rather syrupy (not my favorite) but they weren’t. The cinnamon-sugar topping is very over the top in the sweetness of these muffins, so if you’re not into that, consider doing the simple streusel from the blueberry muffins. Also, these aren’t as cakey as the banana muffins I was gushing about last week, but still fluffy enough to satisfy me. The batter held up quite nicely with the berries.

The original recipe calls for vegetable oil, but I substituted with natural, unsweetened applesauce and got great results. Another good switch up on these muffins would be to half the all-purpose flour and make up the difference with wheat flour. (And obviously if you’re that worried about being health-conscious, don’t dip these in melted butter and sugar… Duh!)

Strawberry Smashed Muffins with Cinnamon-Sugar Topping
Adapted from RecipeZaar / Gold Medal Rainbow Bakery children’s Cookbook

1 2/3 cups fresh strawberries (or frozen, thawed and drained)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping
4 tablespoons butter, melted and warm
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 425 F. Lightly grease the bottoms of 12 regular sized muffin cups.

Slightly smash strawberries in large bowl, using fork. Alternatively, quarter strawberries and pulse in a food processor with 7 one-second pulses. Remove from processor and place in large bowl.

Stir in sugar, applesauce and eggs until mixed. Stir in other ingredients just until moistened.

Using a 1/3 measuring cup, evenly distribute batter into muffin cups. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until light golden brown or toothpick poked in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Loosen sides of muffins from pan and take them out of the pan. Let cool for another 5 minutes.

For topping, mix together sugar and cinnamon, until cinnamon is evenly distributed throughout the sugar. Dip muffin tops lightly in melted butter, then into sugar mixture.

These are a delicious and light and the smashed berries inside are a fun treat to bite into. Here’s a photo of the insides… I went to get the camera and our illustrious web admin decided to take one of the muffins for a test drive.

Berry Smashed Muffins - Test Driven & Approved

MizzNezz’s Banana Muffins

No, this is not a repeat from last week’s Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. I had extra bananas in my pantry that were going brown and wanted to use them up. I did enjoy the muffins I made last week but I was searching for something different — a more scrumptious treat with a cake texture.

Found it.

Banana Muffins 5

These muffins are incredibly moist and soft with a sweet banana flavor, thanks to the fact that it calls for a whole 3 bananas — a great way to get rid of those brown things sitting on top of your fridge.

What falls down for me a bit is the streusel mixture that goes on top — comprising mostly of brown sugar and a little bit of butter, during the baking process it melts into the muffin and doesn’t retain its crumbly texture as well. I think the best bet is to use the streusel from the Blueberry Muffins, which is comprised of nearly equal parts sugar and flour. Add in 1/3 cup of nuts, and you’ll have the winning streusel topping.

Banana Muffins 1

These muffins are the easiest muffins yet. Dump your wet ingredients into a bowl, mix well with an electric mixer, add the dry ingredients, mix well with an electric mixer, divide into a greased, non-stick 12-cup muffin tin. Bake. Eat.

Streusel Topped Banana Muffins
Courtesy of MizzNezz / RecipeZaar

3 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Topping (as reflected in photos)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
1 tablespoon cold butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine bananas, sugar, egg and butter. Add dry ingredients and mix well, scraping the bowl with spatula as needed.

Divide batter into a greased, non-stick 12-cup muffin pan. Combine streusel in bowl and divide evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and serve.

I also want to give a special call out to MizzNezz, the RecipeZaar contributor who came up with these muffins. A few of her dishes are staples in my house, like her Chicken Tetrazzini.

Banana Muffins 3

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love banana chocolate chip muffins. Back in my early 20’s when I was managing a popular mall retail store, I made a point every day to head down to my favorite coffee shop and order a banana chocolate chip muffin to go with my coffee. Somehow it set the tempo for my day — sweet banana flavor in a cake format accompanied by a scattering of milk chocolate chips sent me into a sugar shock that took hours to come down from.


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

The flavor of these muffins is oh-so-good. My only real disappointment is in their appearance; I wish they had risen more like mushrooms, rather than the stunted boxed-corn-muffin look. Once you take a bite that disappointment abates because they’re just so darn scrumptious.

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins
Courtesy of Bon Appétit

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease twelve 1/3-cup muffin cups with butter flavored spray. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Mix mashed bananas, egg, melted butter and milk in medium bowl. Stir banana mixture into dry ingredients just until blended (do not overmix). Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake muffins until tops are pale golden and tester inserted into center comes out with some melted chocolate attached but no crumbs, about 32 minutes. Transfer muffins to rack; cool.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins 2