Monday, December 13, 2010

Cranberry pecan streusel muffins


Birthday season has continued (does it ever end? I think not!) and recently I was in need of a sweet treat to take along to a friend's birthday celebration. It was a morning coffee-come-and-go type of affair, so I pondered outside the cupcake realm a bit, and also wanted to get into the holiday swing of things with some cranberries... what better than a cranberry muffin with streusel on top?

Found this little gem at epicurious, and whipped them up in a flash! Yummy and quick, I did make a couple of adjustments based on what I had on hand, as well as personal taste. Definitely a make-again muffin, and worth experimenting in a loaf style as well.

Cranberry pecan streusel muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Topping
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut up
1/4 cup (1 ounce) pecans or walnuts, finely chopped (I used a combination of those nuts and included pistachios as well... love that hint of green!)

Muffins
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (2 ounces) pecans or walnuts, chopped (same nut combo as above)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 large egg at room temperature
1 cup plain or orange yogurt, top liquid poured off
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted, or canola oil
2 tablespoons wheat germ (I substituted oat bran... just not wild about wheat germ flavor)
1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda, if using (I did)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Coat the muffin cups with nonstick vegetable spray (then wipe the top of the pan with a paper towel) or coat with solid shortening. Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a medium bowl, toss together all streusel topping ingredients and pinch everything together with your fingertips to make crumbs. Set aside.

Measure the sugar. In another bowl, toss together the cranberries and nuts with the grated orange zest, extract, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg(s), yogurt or milk, melted butter or oil, the remaining sugar, and the wheat germ oat bran. Place a sifter over the bowl and measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into it. Stir/sift the dry ingredients onto the wet, add the cranberry-nut mixture, and stir everything together just to blend; don't over-beat.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them nearly full. Sprinkle generously with the streusel crumbs. Bake 20 to 22 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and well risen and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly on a wire rack, and serve warm.

I made a double batch, so there was ample for the birthday girl and friends, and plenty for home as well. In fact, I froze a few and have taken them out and defrosted as needed... still quite tasty. I would say the only downside to defrosting is the streusel gets a little gooey. But, hey, a little sweet gooeyness every now and again? Not so bad...

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