Sunday, December 28, 2008

Jumbo Apple-Walnut Muffins

I make muffins. Everybody has a thing, and making jumbo, decadent muffins is mine.

I started making muffins a few years ago, when my hubby’s sister was getting married. I wanted to make something special for her bridal shower brunch, so I figured I’d experiment with some recipes. So many of them were dry and cakey and shameful. So I started throwing in sour cream. Buttermilk. Cream cheese. And tastier ingredients, like chocolate, and butterscotch, and toffee. Lo and behold, I had me a hobby.

Since then, I’ve developed three basic batters that work well for me – a traditional muffin batter, an oatmeal batter, and a cream cheese batter. And when I get an idea for some fillings, I try to work them into one of those batters.

A few tips for making muffins:
  • Bring your eggs, milk, and other refrigerated ingredients to room temperature before using.
  • Don’t overmix your batter. The more you mix, the flatter your muffins will be.
  • Taste your batter as you go along. If it doesn’t taste good, your muffins won’t, either.
  • Fill any extra muffin cups with water to help ensure even baking if your muffin pan is only partially full.
  • Only make jumbo muffins. Those normal-sized ones are just pathetic. (You had to hear this. I say it because I care.)

As I was baking an apple pie earlier this fall, I got an idea to make some apple muffins. With something crunchy, like walnuts. And cream cheese. That was flavored with shredded apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg. And this recipe was born. (Next time I might add some caramel.)

Jumbo Apple-Walnut Muffins
Makes 6-9

1¾ c. flour
½ c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. grated whole nutmeg
1½ apples (about 1½ c.), peeled and chopped
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ c. butter, softened
½ apple, grated
2/3 c. milk
½ tsp. vanilla
Dash of cinnamon and grated whole nutmeg
½ c. toasted walnuts, chopped

Streusel topping
3 Tbsp. flour
¼ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 c. toasted walnuts, chopped
2 Tbsp. butter

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Fold in apple pieces.

2. Using a mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add grated apple, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix until combined, but cream cheese is still chunky.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add cream cheese mixture. Add walnuts. Stir until just combined.

4. Put liners in about 8 jumbo muffin cups. Fill muffin cups ¾ full, and fill empty muffin cups with water.

5. Combine streusel ingredients in a small bowl using a pastry blender. Top muffins with streusel topping.

6. Bake about 25 minutes, or until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

7. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on rack.

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