Saturday, October 6, 2012

On a Muffin Kick...Round 1: Strawberry Cream



It was a Monday night, and I really wanted some muffins. Sooooo here is this... They were supposed to be raspberry cream muffins, but sadly my raspberries were moldy :( So I ran out to Target to get some raspberries. But no. They were all out because they were on sale last week! When I wanted to make my muffins! Gah!! I love making muffins. Why? Because they're ridiculously easy to make (for the most part), and they're not like cupcakes, which can get pretty intensely sweet. Muffins are great anytime: breakfast, snack, dessert. You're set with these. So with that in mind, let's get started on my Strawberry Cream Muffins!

Couple things you will want to have on hand. Obviously a muffin tray, standard size, and some paper muffin/cupcake liners. I use these even when I make muffins just because it's SO much easier to to clean up the tray afterwards and you don't have to worry about the muffins getting stuck in the tray if you didn't grease it properly. Of course the usual bowls and hand mixer and/or mixing spoon.

So here's what you need to make these treats!

1 cup fresh strawberries, finely chopped
3/4 cup of sugar, divided into 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup
1/4 cup of butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used a little extra probably closer to 2-1/2 cups)
3 teaspoons baking powder (which is the same as 1 tablespoon...)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-and-half cream
1 cup finely chopped white chocolate chips (I use Nestle)
2 tablespoons each of brown sugar and white sugar

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

OK! So you're going to want to chop up your strawberries first. I chopped mine into small pieces because I wanted a good mix of strawberry and muffin. Not just huge chunks of strawberries in the muffins. Once you have them chopped up you're going to toss the strawberries in 1/4 cup of sugar.

Set that aside and grab a large bowl. Cream the 1/4 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of sugar until it's light and fluffy like I've demonstrated in some of my other blog entries. Then you're going to add in the egg, and the almond and vanilla extracts.

In my opinion the almond extract adds so much flavor to these muffins, definitely something I will be sure to find ways to use in other muffin recipes. I love the taste vanilla adds to baking treats, but I totally forgot about how wonderful almond extract can be!

Now we need another bowl to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix it up so the salt and baking powder is nicely blended in with the flour. Again I added another 1/4 cup or so of flour here, and I added a tiny bit more once the whole batter was put together. It's all about using your judgment to get the right consistency in the batter that will allow the muffins to rise nicely as they bake.

Now it's time to do our wonderful alternating mixing in of the dry ingredients and wet ingredients (the half-and-half cream) into the creamed mixture! I always like to start with the dry ingredients. Add about a cup then mix it in with either your trusty hand mixer or by hand. Then add in some of the cream, and so on and so on until everything is mixed in nicely. Like I've said before, don't over mix or you'll have some pretty tough muffins.

Here's a shot of me mixing in some of the dry ingredients. I like to break the alternating of the wet/dry ingredients into about 3 sections. Mixing well every time, but really just until it's all moist and not over done. I know I'm repeating myself, but it's a pretty important element of baking.

Once that's all taken care of. It's time to chop up the white chocolate chips...Not gonna lie, I was a little lazy with my chopping of the chips. Just took a big knife and went to town with it. Maybe next time I'll toss the chips in my food processor to chop them a bit better. Maybe you can try it and let me know how it goes?  :)

So you're going to add the white chips and the chopped up strawberries from earlier into the batter...

Mix them in gently so you don't destroy the strawberries. And again, I'm saying mix it gently BY HAND and only mix them in until everything in there is evenly distributed.

You're ready to bake them now! Well...almost. Either grease the muffin cups or line them with paper muffin/cupcake cups. and fill them with the batter about 3/4 full. Remember, only fill them 3/4 full otherwise you may end up with the problem that I had before with my muffins or cupcakes overflowing and connecting with each other, and making a huge hassle to take them out.

Take the brown sugar and white sugar and mix them together. Sprinkle the sugar on top of the muffin batter. Pop them in the over for 25-30 minutes, at 375 degrees. Now, with all cooking/baking oven temperatures can vary so watch your muffins!! I like to switch my pan around at the 15 minute mark, then I cooked them for another 7-9 minutes.

I don't know why, but I really like sneaking in a picture of my baking goods while they're in the process of cooking. It helps me see if I needed to add more or less flour, if I needed to fill the muffin cups more or less. It's just something I do. And you'll know your muffins are done when a took pick or cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the muffin.

OK so my recipe says this makes 1 dozen muffins. I went, perfect! I nice even 12 muffins. But no, somehow mine made 16. So I covered the extra batter and put it in the fridge while the first batch was in the oven. Now since my second batch only made 4 more muffins, I fill the empty cups about half way full with water. Doing this helps the muffins cook evenly and also keeps them moist. Don't understand the way it works, but it does.

When the muffins are done, cool them in the pan for about 5 minutes, then move them to a wire rack to cool a bit more. These muffins are delicious warm so feel free to serve them once they've cooled down enough to not burn your mouth. Also, I kept mine in the fridge because for some reason in my house my muffins go moldy in a few days if I leave them on the counter. Even if they're in an air-tight container. I don't get it, but I think it's because how hot it is :(

But fear not! Pop the muffins in the microwave for about 15 seconds and BOOM! nice warm muffins to enjoy!

There you go! Hope you enjoy these!
'Til Next Time!!

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