Dessert

No Hearts of Darkness Here! My 2013 Valentine’s Treats

My seventeen year old self would be disgusted with me. Back then, when my college dorm roomies suggested we cut out paper hearts and color them red and pink to decorate our suite for Valentine’s Day, I proceeded to color one black and wrote on it: “HEART OF DARKNESS“. Guess who was the most popular roommate. (Not I.) Fast forward a decade later, I listen to a lot less death metal, LOVE pink, and own a heart shaped muffin tin. Yikes.

Valentine's 2013 chocolate strawberries and muffins

I decided to start a new tradition last year: to spread the love on Valentine’s and make treats for everyone. Last year it was heart shaped chocolate chip cookies and homemade “Milano” cookies. This year I decided to make chocolate dipped strawberries, which is awkwardly sexual for my coworkers I guess, but I figured the weight-conscious people would appreciate an alternative to baked good. But I had to do some baking too, ’cause c’mon, that heart-shaped mini muffin tin is just too cute.

I even made some Valentine’s crafts. Take that, seventeen year old Iris.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope this day and everyday of your life is full of love. <3

Valentine's 2013 strawberries and muffins

Chocolate Cranberry Mini Muffins
Makes about 36 muffins

3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing tin
10 ounces sour cream
3/4 cup chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease mini muffin tin with butter. (Bonus points if it’s heart-shaped one like mine, but a regular tin is just fine!) Put dried cranberries in a bowl and cover with very hot water. Set them aside to plump while you make the batter. Drain before mixing in with other ingredients.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the egg in a second medium bowl, then add the sugar and whisk until thick. Add the 4 tablespoons of butter and whisk to combine. Add the sour cream, whisking just to combine.

Add the chocolate and drained cranberries to the dry ingredients and gently mix to combine. Pour in the sour cream mixture and gently fold it in with a spatula or wooden spoon until the batter comes together and the chocolate and cranberries are evenly distributed.

Divide batter among the muffin cups. If you do have a heart-shaped muffin tin, I’ve found that filling each cup about 3/4 full gets you better heart-shaped muffins. Depending on the number of cups your muffin tin has, you might have to do the baking in a few batches. Bake until light golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan front to back halfway through the baking time. Check if they are ready by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin–it should come out clean. Invert onto a wire rack and let them cool for 5 minutes.

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Breakfast

How Watching Scrubs Leads to Baking Blueberry Muffins

OK I realize I’m over a decade late with this one. I recently discovered how awesome the TV show Scrubs was. Hey, better late than never right? This summer I went through a bit of Scrubs obsession, only giving up really late in the seasons when everyone became parents and it got weird.

I don’t really eat muffins. They’re often almost the size of your head, and I find it’s like having a giant cake for breakfast. On the other hand, if you consider it a dessert, well, there are better options than muffins. Bottom line, I never see an opportune time to eat them. They’re usually too sweet or stale anyhow. I have a muffin tin and yet choose to make duck prosciutto egg cups or mini sweet potato, kale, and egg bakes in it instead.

But once I got to the part in Scrubs where Dr. Kelso won unlimited muffins for life at the hospital cafe, I couldn’t help but have muffins on my mind.

Then I saw these blueberry muffins on Not Derby Pie. I knew it was time to use that muffin tin for its true calling. I bought some beautiful blueberries from the farmers market and decided to bake them with crème fraîche instead, which is just so much sexier. Once they cooled a little, I took a bite of my very first fresh-out-of-the-oven muffin. Oh man. Now I get it. When they are fresh, are well-made, use seasonal fruit, and are the appropriate size, muffins are awesome for breakfast. I was surprised at how quick and easy they are to make too. Freshly baked muffins is a must next time I host brunch!

Crème Fraîche Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
About 280 calories per muffin

Adapted from Not Derby Pie

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing tin
10 ounces crème fraîche
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350. Grease muffin tin with butter.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the egg in a second medium bowl, then add the sugar and whisk until thick and homogeneous. Add the 4 tablespoons of butter; whisk to combine. Add the crème fraîche, whisking just to combine.

Add the berries to the dry ingredients and gently mix to combine. Add the crème fraîche mixture and gently fold it in with a spatula or wooden spoon until the batter comes together and the berries are evenly distributed.

Divide batter among the muffin cups. Bake until light golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan front to back halfway through the baking time. Check if they are ready by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin–it should come out clean. Invert onto a wire rack and let them cool for 5 minutes.

Bonus: Have leftover muffins? Check out this cool post on storing muffins I found while trying to figure how to transport them to my sister’s place.

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