Hazelnut Streusel Apple Muffins

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I’m learning a lot. Big things and little things.

Big things like what it means to be the mother of an amazing, wailing, little nugget of baby-boy cuteness, while also being a wife and partner.

Little things like how to get in that daily shower, work with this new dang camera, and fit in making a batch of these muffins complete with a photo (or two) and blog post.

So, while I balance my babe on one arm and type with the other, let me tell you about these muffins. They are the first thing I’ve baked since before Casper was born and they are pretty damn good. The recipe is an adaptation of Joy’s Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins with tart apples in place of the berries, a bit of hazelnut in the streusel, and plenty of cinnamon for some autumnal warmth. Even though this summer has been really good to me–baby! house! beautiful blue sky days!–I’m always ready for fall with it’s crisp air, fallen leaves, and cozy indoor days. These muffins are perfect for the transitioning season–not too long of a bake time, so you don’t heat up your kitchen too much, but just enough warmth and carb-y goodness to make things cozy. WIN.

[recipe]

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Hazelnut Streusel Apple Muffins

Makes about 18 muffins.

If you don’t have, or want to use, flax and wheat germ reduce the milk to 1/3 cup.

Streusel:

3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Muffin Batter:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

2 tablespoons wheat germ

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups diced granny smith apples (from about 2 peeled and cored apples)

Preheat the oven to 350º F and line two muffin tins with 16 paper liners (I do 12 in one tin, and 6 in the center of the other).

In a bowl pinch the butter into the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and chopped hazelnuts to combine. Set aside.

In a skillet or saucepan melt the butter and heat over medium until the butter becomes foamy, the butter separates, and the solids become brown and smell fragrant like toffee. Remove from the heat and pour into a dish to cool. Set aside.

In a measuring cup whisk the milk, egg + yolk, and vanilla until well combined.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, flax, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon.  In a separate bowl toss the chopped apples with the remaining cinnamon.

 

Pour the milk and egg mixture into the mixing bowl of the flour mixture and fold until just combined. Fold in the apples. Divide the muffin batter between the lined muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full, and top each muffin with streusel. Bake the muffins in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before serving. [/recipe]

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Stone Fruit with Ricotta and Mint Sugar

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Today, I have the easiest of summertime recipes for you. Sure, I’m asking you to make cheese from scratch, but it’s super easy. I promise. Plus, you could always just buy good quality ricotta from a cheese counter, making this summery dessert even easier.

If you’ve never made homemade ricotta, I seriously urge you to add it to your list of must-makes. It’s crazy easy and produces something that is so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s creamy and perfect…not at all grainy, gummy, or dry. It’s a totally different animal from the part-skim business you’ll find near the cheese slices at the store. I would definitely recommend going the whole milk route for this venture though, you could skip the cream if you want it a little lighter.

Also, let’s talk mint sugar. I am obsessed with mint these days. I love the smell of fresh mint and the flavor it brings to both sweet and savory dishes. I love to use it in summery chopped salads of cucumber, tomato, and lemon, and recently tried it in a feta and pea laced fritatta at Tasty n Sons here in Portland. It was fantastic. Needless to say, I also love it in all sorts of sweet aplications–it’s my favorite herb to pair with melon, or really any fruit, in this case perfect, summer stone fruits. This mint sugar is perfect for just that.

Speaking of stone fruits, they are crazy good right now. Like, I cannot get enough. I’ve been buying (and eating) a ton of them. It even seems a little early to me for them to be so spectacular but, apricots, plums,  and even cherries, are fantastic. The peaches haven’t been perfection, but they are still darn good and only benefit from a little roasting or grilling. Paired with creamy, lush ricotta and herbal mint sugar, the sweet-tartness of summertime fruits really shine.

Tip: if the pits of your stone fruits are stubbornly attached to the flesh, use a melon baller to scoop around the pit to free it. 

[recipe]

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Roasted Fruit with Ricotta and Mint Sugar

There are a variety of methods for making ricotta that can be found online. I kind of read a bunch, then went for it. I have used multiple layers of cheesecloth before, and it takes forever for the liquid to drain away (several days), so I find a single layer of cheesecloth over a fine mesh sieve does the trick just fine. Of course, you can sub the homemade ricotta with quality ricotta purchased from a grocer. Use any stone fruit you like and if you don’t want to turn on the oven, go ahead and grill the fruit halves, it will be just as delicious!

Homemade Ricotta:

Makes about 1lb of drained ricotta. 

1/2 gallon whole milk

8 ounces cream

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Roasted Stone Fruits:

As many pieces of fresh, not overly ripe, stone fruit you’d like. Peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and even cherries would work here.

sugar for sprinkling

Mint Sugar:

1/2 cup mint leaves

1/2 cup sugar

To make the ricotta, start 1-2 days ahead of time, so the cheese has plenty of time to drain.

Place a large pot (a dutch oven or soup pot will work perfectly) over medium heat and add the milk and cream. Insert a thermometer into the milk mixture and clip to the side. Gently heat the milk mixture until the thermometer reads anywhere between 165ºF-180ºF. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the salt, plus lemon juice. Let the milk and lemon mixture sit for 10 minutes off the heat, undisturbed. Small curds will form and separate. Set a large fine mesh sieve over a large bowl, lined with one layer of cheesecloth and ladle the curdled milk mixture into the lined sieve. You may have to do this in batches as the liquid drains away or use 2 sieve/cheesecloth/bowl set-ups. Place the draining ricotta in the refrigerator for 1-2 days until most of the liquid has drained away, you may have to pour off the liquid from the bowl beneath once or twice if it reaches the bottom of the sieve. Once the ricotta is the consistency you like, store in an airtight container for a few days, if needed.

To roast the fruit, preheat the oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment. Place washed and halved stoned fruits on the sheet in a single layer, cut side up, and sprinkle with sugar. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the fruits soften and begin to release their juices. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving. Or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To make the mint sugar, pulse the mint and sugar in a food processor until combined.

When you are ready to serve the fruit and ricotta, either spread some ricotta onto plates, top with fruits, and sprinkle with the mint sugar, or spoon some ricotta into the center of each fruit half and sprinkle with mint sugar.

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Blueberry Muffin Skillet

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I turned muffins into a skillet cake.

Not that muffins are the most difficult thing to make, but sometimes we want something even easier…right? That’s where this Blueberry Muffin Skillet comes in. It’s all things we love about blueberry muffins–buttery crumb, bright blueberries, plus a little lemon zest for freshness, a teensy bit of health from some flax and wheat germ, plus crunchy topping–minus the portioning. Just brown some butter, mix, pour, sprinkle, and bake. Even though there’s only one less step, it still feels like sweet freedom. And freedom means more weekend lounging, naps, leisurely walks, and magazine reading.

Happy weekending!!

[recipe]

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Blueberry Muffin Skillet

Adapted from Joy the Baker

If you don’t want to use the flax and wheat germ, reduce the milk to 1/3 cup. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, brown the butter in any saucepan or skillet you have and bake the cake in a greased pie plate or cake tin.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup milk

1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon, divided

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons flax seed meal

2 tablespoons wheat germ

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons salt

2 cups fresh blueberries

Topping:

3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Place the butter in a 9-10 inch cast iron skillet and heat over medium until the butter browns and becomes fragrant like toffee. Remove from the heat and pour the butter into a dish to cool.

In a large measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk the milk, egg + yolk, and vanilla until combined. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk half of the lemon zest with the flour, flax meal, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk mixture, followed by the browned butter, and fold until just combined–there may be a few spare lumps or streaks of flour, it’s okay. Fold in the blueberries and scrape the mixture into the cast iron skillet you used to brown the butter.

Make the topping by pinching the butter into the flour, remaining lemon zest, and sugar until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the batter. Bake in the center of the oven for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the muffin cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Wrap any leftover pieces tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for a day or two.

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