Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Citrus-Zested Blueberry Muffins

It was my birthday this weekend, and one of the presents Peter got me was a new citrus zester! I was so excited to use it, so I took an inventory of my kitchen to see what I could create using my new zester. I had a bowl full of oranges from Grandma Joanie and a big bag of blueberries in my freezer...  perfect; orange-zested blueberry muffins! I remembered a killer-looking blueberry muffin recipe that I came across when I was browsing some recipes awhile ago. I dug out the recipe from 'Cooks Illustrated' and whittled in some room to add orange zest into the recipe. 

I thought muffins would be a great treat for Peter to take to the office in the morning and share at work. However, after he ate one for breakfast, he decided that he liked them too much and wanted to leave them... all... at home. So he asked me to make something else to send to the office so that he could keep his arsenal of blueberry muffins for breakfast this week. I guess this means it's a pretty darn good recipe. Give it a whirl:

Recipe (for a dozen regular sized muffins):
  • 2 cups Blueberries
  • 1 /18 cups Sugar, plus 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon (separated like this)
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons melted Butter
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 cup Milk (I used nonfat but you can use any type)
  • 3/4 cups low-fat Yogurt (I used Vanilla, but you can use plain or any flavor you wish; orange or blueberry might be fun to try!)
  • 2 teaspoons Orange zest

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. And before you start anything else, prepare the topping that will go on the muffins later before they go into the oven. To do this, zest 1 teaspoon of orange and mix with a fork into 1/3 cup sugar until well combined and fluffy (not clumpy): 
 The sugar will lightly take on the orange color of the zest and look so beautiful and sparkly orange!

 Then bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 tsp sugar to a boil in a small saucepan:

 Stir it frequently and break up the blueberries so that all of their juices are released. Allow to simmer over medium-low heat:

 Continue to simmer and stir for about 5 minutes or so until it reduces and thickens up a bit, then remove from heat and set aside:

 While the blueberries are cooling, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl:

 In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 1/8 cups sugar until smooth. Then add in the vegetable oil and and the melted butter. Mix well.

 Combine the 3/4 cup yogurt and the 1/4 cup milk.

And add the yogurt mixture and another teaspoon of orange zest into the bowl with the egg mixture: 
(Can you faintly see the speckles or orange zest in the bowl):

Stir in the remaining cup of whole blueberries into the flour mixture until well coated. 

Then gently fold the egg mixture into the flour bowl. Be careful not to over-mix these together. It's okay if some of the berries burst; they just make pretty swirls in the batter. Do not mix so much that the blueberry juice dyes all the batter, just leave it be at the 'swirl' stage.

Spray your muffin tins with a non-stick spray and fill each cup only part-way (about a shy 1/4 cup each)

Remember the sweetened blueberry 'sauce' that you made earlier? Nestle about 1 teaspoon of that mixture into the middle of each muffin:

Then finish filling each tin with the rest of the dough until the tin is full:

Then top-off with a good spoonful of the orange zested sugar on top of each muffin. 

Bake at 425 degrees F for about 16 minutes or so, until the tops puff up and get a crackled sugar top, like this: 

Let them cool for a minute before removing from pan otherwise they may pull apart.

We enjoyed ours for breakfast with fresh coffee from another one of Peter's gifts, a french press!

(Peter had his blueberry muffin AND a slice of banana bread):

Then it was a good thing Peter didn't take the rest of the muffins to work, because Mom surprised me with a morning visit and a walk on the beach...

 ...which turned into a long, fun adventure of the two of us climbing around cove after cove after cove....

 ...and each little cove was so beautiful that we had to keep climbing to see what new tide pools and secret beaches awaited us around the next point:

Possible alterations: 
  • You could use lemon zest and make blueberry-lemon muffins!
  • Cook's Illustrated says you can use 1 cup buttermilk instead of the mixture of 3/4 cup yogurt and 1/4 milk.
  • Use fresh instead of frozen blueberries :)

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