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]

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream

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So, remember when I was having a dilemma about whether or not to keep adding text to my lead photo? Well, I’ve decided, with your feedback, to just do whatever the heck I wanna do. I think it will work out nicely and now I don’t have any more imaginary stress about it. So, THANKS. You are all the best…so, I made you ice cream!

YAY!

This ice cream is so dang good, you guys. I mean, it has all the flavors of a pumpkin cinnamon roll, including a gooey cinnamon caramel swirl AND a cream cheese icing swirl. I mean, we all know cream cheese icing never hurt a cinnamon bun, amiright? The ice cream is laced with pumpkin puree and a punch of spices making it taste like all the things we love about autumn, plus those swirls. The swirls aren’t totally necessary, but they really make this ice cream something else…plus they make for pretty scoops and I’m all about cute food.

And, can we talk about how it’s October and I’ve been wearing witchy colors on my nails EVERYDAY, that have apparently transferred into the styling here. I love that black flatware and have had it almost since the beginning of this blog–meaning it’s older than my 3-year-old niece.  I can’t always make it work the rest of the year…so just another reason to L-O-V-E fall. Okay, I’m done. Happy Friday, get yo’ pumpkin ice cream on!

[recipe]

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream

Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

It is best to make the cinnamon caramel in advance so it can cool to room temperature before layering with the ice cream. You will probably have a little extra caramel, so just store it in a lidded jar in the refrigerator for 1 week…and pour it over this ice cream OR use it to dip apples into.

3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup plain pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 cups whole milk

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large bowl whisk the softened cream cheese until creamy, stir in the maple and pumpkin. In another small bowl whisk together the cornstarch with a few tablespoons of the milk. Set both aside.  Prepare an ice bath in a clean sink or large bowl.

In a saucepan heat the remaining milk, sea salt, cream, sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer and quickly whisk in the cornstarch mixture until well combined. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook while stirring for 3-4 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into the bowl containing the cream cheese and pumpkin mixture. Whisk to combine completely. Pour the mixture into a gallon size freezer bag, seal, and dunk into the ice bath. Let it sit in the ice bath until cool.  Process the ice cream base in a ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions. Layer the ice cream into a container with the cooled cinnamon caramel and cream cheese—try to get at least three layers for maximum swirled goodness.

For the Cinnamon Caramel Sauce:

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a saucepan heat the sugar, water, butter, and corn syrup together until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture becomes deep golden brown and caramelized. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the salt and heavy cream until smooth and glossy. The caramel will bubble furiously at this point, so be careful! Stir in the cinnamon and pour into a heatproof container to cool.

For the Cream Cheese Swirl:

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and beat with a hand mixer until combined and smooth. [/recipe]

Mini Hard Cider Cupcakes

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Guys, I’ve been wanting to make these cupcakes for a while now…ever since I sent Sean to the liquor store to buy some hard cider for a braised pork thing I was doing. But, he couldn’t find my favorite (Crispin) cider, so he bought a 6-pack of a different kind and it ended up being spiced…which, of course, wasn’t what I had in mind, but total A for effort!

So, in order to waste-not, I came up with this hard cider cupcake idea and oh, man…it ended up being a happy accident. I was so surprised by how much the hard cider flavor really comes through in these minis and in the frosting. There aren’t any actual apples in this recipe, but the apple flavor from the cider really shines, plus it lends a pleasant booziness.

These cupcakes are made in my favorite way for any cake or cupcake, by beating the butter with the flour mixture…instead of beating the butter and sugar until fluffy and then gently folding in the flour at the end. I love this method because it always produces a cake with a fine, almost dense crumb, but manages to remain light and spongey, yet tender. The thing is, the butter fat coats the flour which kind of waterproofs the gluten, so when you add the liquid the water doesn’t activate the glutens and prevents them from becoming gummy and chewy. BOOM!

So if you have some hard cider waning away in your fridge, looking for some way to be consumed, or even if you’re just a fan of booze-laced treats, these tender little dudes are just the thing.

[recipe]

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Mini Hard Cider Cupcakes with Cider Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 48 miniature cupcakes.

Adapted from Take a Megabite

I used Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple Hard Cider in this recipe, since Sean couldn’t find the cider I usually buy…for drinkin’. It turned out to be perfect for these cupcakes. You can use whatever hard cider you want. 

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspooon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup hard apple cider

Preheat your oven to 350˚F and line two mini muffin tins with 48 cupcake liners.

In the bowl of a mixer or using a hand mixer and mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add it to the butter and beat until the mixture is combined and resembles a crumble topping. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping after each, once incorporated continue to beat for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the vanilla, followed by the hard cider and beat until just combined. Scoop heaping tablespoonfuls of batter into each muffin liner, I like to use a mini cookie scoop with a levered handle (also known as a disher). Bake 1 pan at a time in the center of the oven for 14-16 minutes or until the tops are dry and spring back to the touch. Remove from oven and cool on a rack while you make the frosting. Repeat with remaining pan.

Cider Cream Cheese Frosting

1, 8 ounce, brick cream cheese, softened

1 lb. (16 ounces) powdered sugar

2-3 tablespoons hard cider

Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and the hard cider and mix to combine. Pipe or spread onto completely cooled cupcakes. [/recipe]