Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Strawberries and Cream Muffins: "I do beseech you . . ."


". . . I saw good strawberries in your garden there;
I do beseech you send for some of them."

--
William Shakespeare, from Richard III, act 3, scene 4.

What, pray tell, is more appealing than a fresh, warm muffin that's been dotted, within and on top, with bright crimson strawberries? Exceptionally good strawberries, if you can ferret them out this time of year, are such a rarity.

So when I spotted some particularly promising berries recently that were actually on sale(!), I wasted no time in nabbing a container. Strawberry muffins, you see, had been on my mind.

In my retail baking class last week, one of my tasks had been to make several dozen petite strawberry muffins, which were slated to accompany a fabulous main-dish salad that the garde manger class was preparing at the same time. (The garde manger class makes a huge variety of beautiful cold dishes, comprised largely of veggies and fruits--really fantastic stuff.)

Those little muffins were pretty cute, and I was pleased with how they turned out. Their batter, though, was boringly one-size-fits-all, so I decided to devise a brand new strawberry muffin recipe to try out at home--something more interesting--and that's what we have here today. I was absolutely delighted with how these turned out, and my kids LOVED them.

The case of the disappearing strawberries . . .

Have you ever noticed how strawberries have a way of simply melting away in baked goods, sometimes leaving nothing but a little pocket of pinkish moisture that leaves you wondering what might have been there to begin with? Sadly, the gorgeous little chunks can be completely diminished by heat. This recipe, though, makes an effort to get around that problem, at least partially.

In coming up with this recipe, I borrowed a couple of hints from my baking teacher, Chef Chris. He doesn't always mix berries right into muffin batter; he layers them into the batter in the muffin cups. That's one tactic I adopted here, and it helps alleviate, though doesn't completely eliminate, the problem of disappearing strawberries.

No, it's not a cheesecake . . .

A special component of these muffins is the addition of a very small amount of a sweet cream-cheesy mixture, which I layered in over the first sprinkling of berry pieces. It just barely evokes the flavor of cheesecake, and it's subtle enough so that it doesn't make the muffins too rich, nor does it make you feel like you're eating something that belongs on a dessert cart. It also doesn't firm up into a thickened streak within the muffin, but melds nicely into the batter itself, augmenting the moistness of the muffin's soft interior.

Does Size Really Matter?

You can make them regular size or, if you're into jumbo muffins, go for it and make them huge. You'll get about 6 giants out of this recipe, or 14 regulars. I had enough leftover batter, after I'd filled my pan of 12, to make one giant muffin. (See the picture below? That baby's gigantic! I stuffed it with extra berries and filled the jumbo muffin cup to capacity. Whoa! If you make them enormous, though, remember that they'll need to bake way longer.)

Any size they are, I think you'll like these. No, let me amend that. I think you'll love these.


Strawberries & Cream Muffins


(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

Makes about 12 to 14 regular size muffins, or about 6 jumbo muffins.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1 cup whole milk (or, you can use something like 2/3 cup of 2 percent milk and 1/3 cup half-and-half, mixed together)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
2 large eggs
2 cups All Purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh ripe strawberries chopped into very small pieces (the redder and sweeter, the better!)

4 oz. full-fat cream cheese, very soft
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. of liquid from one whole egg that's been beaten lightly
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract


Put paper liners in the cups of your muffin pan, or use nonstick baking spray very liberally.

Cut up your berries and set them aside.


In a small bowl, mix together with a spoon the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, the 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. beaten egg, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract. Mix until almost all the lumps are gone. Set this aside, but don't chill it.


Melt the butter slowly in a sauce pan on low heat. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and the milk into the butter, stirring to combine. Cool until the mixture is just warm, then whisk in the eggs.


Thoroughly combine with a whisk, in a large mixing bowl, the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.


Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour all of the butter, milk, and egg mixture into the dry ingredients, blending just until combined. Don't overmix. It's okay if a few little flour streaks are still evident.


Using a portion scoop or spoon, fill each muffin cup barely half full. Scatter a few pieces of strawberry on top of each one.


Using a small spoon, dab a generous teaspoonful or so of the cream cheese mixture on top of the berries.


On top of that, add on another tablespoon or two of the muffin batter.


On top of that, add a few more pieces of strawberry. Push them in just slightly. If they're well visible at this point, they'll still be visible after the muffins have baked (and they won't melt away and disappear)!


Sprinkle the tops of the unbaked muffins very generously with coarse sugar for a nice sparkle.


Bake the muffins for about 15 to 18 minutes, until they're light golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. The middle of the cupcake should be kind of firm when lightly pressed with a finger. Check on the muffins early, and if they're browning too fast, lightly cover the pan with a sheet of foil.

Let the muffins cool in the pan, on a rack, for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove them from the pan to cool the rest of the way on the rack.


(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below!)

68 comments:

Snooky doodle said...

oh wow these look so awesome. I like the colorful look ! those strawberry muffins look delicious

Jane said...

Thanks a lot, Snooky! It was fun taking pictures of those berries, let me tell ya'! Just makes me wish for summer, and summertime fruits . . .

:) Jane

Rambling Tart said...

These are absolutely fabulous!! They shout SPRING! SUMMER! :-) Such happy, cheery muffins.

the twins said...

i love this idea...fresh pieces of strawberry in muffin sounds so good!

symphonious sweets said...

your photos are so beautiful! I have not seen berries that look that good since last summer! yum!

Jane said...

Hi R. Tart, They did look cheery (they're all gone now) while they lasted! :) Thanks very much, Jane

Hello Twins! So nice of you to say so. How are you guys doing? Still cooking up a storm in your dorm? :) Jane

Hi Symphonius Sweets,
I appreciate that comment very much. I've been having a lot of fun with the camera that we got at Christmas time, and I can't resist taking tons of pics of things that are really colorful -- like fruit!
:) Warmly,
Jane

City Mom said...

Where did you find the beautiful strawberry cup? I've wasted 45 minutes looking for something similar on the web! I want to recreate the whole scene.

Janice said...

These look fantastic! I was looking all around last spring for strawberry muffins, so I'm going to have to try these. I love your Google Doc idea for printing your recipe. Do you have any tips for this? Thanks. Janice

anna said...

Those are gorgeous! They do sound good, mmmm strawberries.

Sara @ Our Best Bites said...

These look completely adorable!

Chele said...

These muffins sound amazing and with the wonderful photo's to lust after who wouldn't want to try making some of their own!

Stella said...

Hi Jane, I love the look of those strawberry muffins at the top of the post-so pretty and they match your site.
Oh, and do these need to be stored in the fridge? I notice baked goods with strawberries can mold a little faster, maybe???

HADİYE said...

Merhaba,

Resimli anlatımınız güzel.Muffins güzel.Teşekkürler.

Sevgiler*

Marysol said...

There's a lot of beseeching emanating from this corner as well.

Jane, those look amazing! But where will I find such spectacularly-red strawberries this time of year?

Hanaâ said...

You're so lucky! Those strawberries look amazing! And at this time of the year. I can't believe it! The muffins look so yummy. I love your cream cheese insertion. What happens when the muffins cool and you bite into it? Is it noticable or does it melt into the muffin? Funny you should mention the strawberry trick from your chef. I did the same thing last year with blueberries to prevent my muffin batter from turning purple :)

Maria said...

Perfect spring muffins!

Katie said...

Oh yum the muffins look gorgeous! I'm jealous of the summery strawberries, its still wiinter-like here.

Jane said...

Hi City Mom,
I bought that strawberry cup and saucer at T.J. Maxx a couple of years ago. I think it cost me all of $5.99, if that. I've seen it there since then, too. The one I have is oversized, as you can see, but they also sell them in a typical tea-cup size.
Thanks for visiting!
:) Jane

Hi Janice,
Do you know how to use Google Docs at all? If you want to, feel free to email me at janessweets@gmail.com and I'll explain. It's really, really easy!
:) Warmly,
Jane

Anna, thanks so much! Many thanks for visiting. I visited your blog today and it's beautiful!
Jane

Sarah, I am glad you think so! Muffins and cupcakes always seem to have that adorable factor going on, don't they?
:) Jane

Hi Chele,
You probably need to go make some strawberry muffins right now, don't you think?? ;) That's the best option!
Jane :)

Hello Stella-- In answer to your question, I think that you should probably consider freezing any of these muffins that won't be eaten the first day. Though putting them in the fridge might keep the berries from spoiling too quickly, I think doing that would dry out and diminish the muffin part. I'd suggest the freezer option! Thanks so much for stopping by. I visited your blog today and it's unique and wonderful!
:) Jane

Hi Hadiye-- Well, I wish I knew what you said, but whatever it is, thank you for stopping by!
:) Jane

Hey there Marysol,
I think I was just lucky to stumble on those especially pretty berries. Chances are I won't find them again like that until June, when they're local!
Thanks for popping in,
Jane

Hi Hanaa,
When you bite into them, they are just really soft and moist. The cream cheesy stuff isn't really obvious at all. It's a nice muffin, seriously.
Yeah, the layering tactic seems like a good way of avoiding a lot of fruit-in-batter problems. I'm sold on it.
Keep on bakin',
Jane

Hi Maria, Thanks so much and please visit again! :) Jane

Hello Katie-- It's still pretty wintery here too (Michigan), but I've heard it might get up to 50 degrees this weekend! Whoo hoo! That'll be a treat. Thanks for your nice comments!
Warmly,
Jane :)

My Casa Bella said...

Those strawberries look absolutely beautiful, they could be on a cover of a magazine along with one of your yummy looking muffins.....mmmmmm

Lucy said...

These are beautiful - what a truly delicious idea. Full of gorgeous summer flavours, and so pretty :)

Happy Cook said...

Thankyou so much for the sweet words you wrote about my blog.
Love the muffins, I so wish strawberry season will be here soon.

Kate at Serendipity said...

Oh, Jane, I've bookmarked this recipe for when the strawberries come in here. We have awesome berries, and this looks like just the perfect thing to do with them. Thanks!

I love it that you made up a new batter for these...

Pandamom said...

Thank you, Jane, I found the cup with those clues. The pattern is "Berry Fields" by Creative Tops! There are pieces available online.

Jane said...

Hi Arlene (My Casa Bella),
Yes, and I haven't seen any more strawberries around like that since the day I found those--oh well! Hope you're doing well.
:) Jane

Dear Lucy,
I thank you so much for those nice comments. I visited your blog and was incredibly impressed. You are so talented, and obviously such an accomplished baker. I can hardly believe how young you are! Imagine what you'll be doing, say, five or ten years from now--Nigella Lawson better look out!

Warmly,
Jane

Hi Happy Cook,
Thanks so much for visiting!
:) Jane

Hello Kate-- I am becoming impatient to have fresh summery fruits around again. And as for the batter, I love fiddling around with muffin batter and cookie doughs and seeing what works and what doesn't. Can't help myself!
:) Jane

Hi there Pandamom,
That's great! I'm so glad you found that strawberry cup. Hope you enjoy it!
Warmly,
Jane :)

faithy, the baker said...

YUMMY! I love strawberries and i like the idea of strawberries with cheese in muffin! Great recipe! I have to try it soon! Am bookmarking this page! :)

Allison said...

Oh I do love strawberries and these muffins have me desperately yearning for warmer weather. The way in which you added the cream cheese intrigues me as well.

As for a solution to the disappearing berries, I have heard of coating them in flour before folding them into the batter. The flour is supposed to keep them from sinking, but I have not tried this yet so I cannot guarantee this works.

Jane said...

Hi Faithy, So pleased you like this recipe! I think cream cheese is one of my favorite "secret" ingredients. Even just a very small portion of it can add an interesting change in flavor and texture.
Keep on baking,
Jane

Hello Allison,
Yes, I have tried tossing berries gently in flour before using them in baked goods, and sometimes that does help keep them from sinking. I wasn't sure I wanted to do that with these chopped strawberries because they were so ripe, moist, and kind of delicate. I do agree, though, it's a good trick to have in one's arsenal!

Thanks so much for visiting!
Warmly,
Jane

AMUSE-BOUCHE FOR TWO said...

These muffins look like summer. :)

Dorothy Rimson said...

Loving 'em all

Patty said...

Beautiful and delicious, these muffins are a delight!

lululu said...

hi, jane, i came across this wonderful recipe when i was looking around how to use my starwberries.
and i made these muffins right away, and they are superb!!!!! really one of the best! i hv them posted too in case u r curious! :P

BIA said...

Hi Jane, I'm Beatriz and I'm from Brazil, I really loved your blog, the recipes, the photos, everyyhing! I tried to make these muffins, but I believe something went wrong, maybe because I'm not an experienced cooker, although this recipe seemed easy. The taste was really delicious but the muffins stuck in the paper liners. I could just eat the central part of them. Why this happened? If I put too much cream cheese inside, this could happen? Or I left them inside the oven too much time? Because the maximum temperature my oven can reach is 280 degrees.
I have two oder doubts too, you didn't mention what to do with the almond extract and the Tbsps of liquid from one whole egg that's been beaten lightly.
I mixed the almond extract with the milk and the egg white with the cream cheese! Did I do something wrong?
Thanks for your help! :)
Beatriz

Jane said...

Dear Beatriz/BIA,
First of all, let me apologize profusely for those two omissions in the recipe! Thank you very, very much for bringing them to my attention. I have fixed them in the post, and in the printable version of the recipe. Now, based on the problem you described that you had when you baked the muffins, I am thinking that the oven temperature must have been the most likely culprit. If your oven can only go up to 280 degrees Farenheit, then that would have been much too low for the muffins to bake properly.
I'm so sorry the recipe didn't work for you! I greatly appreciate all of your comments, though. Thank you so much, Beatriz!
Warmly,
Jane

The Scootabaker said...

I really really really need to bake these! I've been obsessing over strawberry muffins for like EVER!

Danielle said...

I just want to say that I made these muffins yesterday and I'm in love!! They are fantastic!! :)

BIA said...

Hi Jane, You were right, the problem was the temperature! But not exactly what you thought! :p
The problem is that I thought it was 400 degrees in Celsius scale, because it's the one we use here! And 400 degrees in Fahrenheit= 200 degrees Celsius!! So I used 280 Celsius instead of 200!! Now I'm here to ask your opinion about another thing. As I'm a cupcake lover, I'd like to try to put some kind of frost on the muffin. It's just an experience, but what do you think it would match better with this muffin:
- Whipped Cream
- White chocolate cream cheese ganache
-White chocolate ganache
-Cream cheese frosting
-None of the above!
I'd like to make them to a friend's bridal shower!
Thanks a lot!!
:)
Bia

Jane said...

Hi BIA,
So glad that mystery has been solved! :) Now, as for frosting the muffins, I'm thinking that maybe your suggestion of the cream cheese icing would be good, since it would sort of "echo" the creamy cheesy aspect within the muffin itself. Also, I think it might still help keep these nicely within the muffin range, versus pushing them all the way into the cupcake zone, do you know what I mean? A strawberry & cream muffin with cream cheese frosting sounds like a nice brunch treat, doesn't it? Of course, every option you suggested also sounds fabulous to me--I love white chocolate, and I love whipped cream! I'm too easy to please when it comes to things like this. I'd be skinnier if I were more discriminating! ;)
Take care and thanks for letting me know what caused your baking problem,
Jane

amy lou said...

I'm a new follower! I found this recipe on Dessert Stalking. I look forward to seeing the recipes on your blog!

Joan said...

WONDERFUL muffins!!!

rducky0478 said...

Just made these muffins...soooo good I ate two before they cooled down. Love your blog

Denise said...

These sound absolutely delish!!! I scheduled a mini feature of it at Extreme Personal Measures.
for tomorrow morning!
Denise
Extreme Personal Measures

Anonymous said...

I've tried these today, it tastes great but the muffin got stuck to the paper, do u have any idea what was the problem? thanksa lot! karin

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! These look incredible. I cannot wait to try these out at home. My moouth is salvating over these images.

check out these other strawberry muffins http://www.fourgreensteps.com/community/recipes/dessertsagoodies/strawberry-goji-muffins

Jane said...

Hi Karin at Anonymous,
You asked what might have gone wrong when your muffins stuck to the papers . . . well, I'm not sure, but perhaps the muffins were under-baked, or there was too much liquid in the batter so the muffins were too moist? In any case, I wanted to tell you that I have gotten into the habit of not only using muffin papers, but also of spraying them lightly with baking spray before filling the papers with batter. This spray step completely eliminates the problem of sticking. I even spray the top of the muffin pan lightly too, so any batter that may top over the rim of the cups won't cause sticking. I hope, if you happen to try this recipe again, that that solves the problem for you. Thanks so much for letting me know!
Warm regards,
Jane :)

Anonymous said...

well, I wasn't patient enough, after i let them cool down completely they come out easily! thanks a lot, I really like the recipe, just found your blog and I need to try more recipes! Karin

Sandy said...

Strawberries and cream muffins look delicious, thank you for the recipe, I'll bake a few on weekend for my family hope they'll love them too.

kelly said...

Hi Jane! I just wanted to say that I made these strawberry muffins twice last spring when the strawberries were just right. I followed your recipe exactly, and they were just absolutely incredible!!! They were the favorite item at my brunch, and my husband insisted that I make them again a week later. :-) These have got to be the most delicious muffins ever -- thanks for a great recipe that made me feel like a pro baker!

Jane said...

Dear Kelly,
Thanks so much for letting me know that you loved this recipe! I am always thrilled to hear that kind of thing. :) And, I'm so glad they made you feel "like a pro baker!" :)
Warmly,
Jane

becca_y46 said...

Wow.. just made these muffins. Absolutely amazing! I have a feeling they won't last long. Just wanted to say thanks for such a delicious recipe. I'll definitely be making these again.

Anonymous said...

These are absolutely yummy! Mine didn't turn out as pretty as yours, but they did taste soooo good. Thanks so much for this recipe. Oh, and just so you know, they're great with blueberries too!

LAnn said...

I just made this tonight and as usual, I got too excited and impatient, and mixed things up. I accidentally grabbed the almond extract instead of vanilla, but fortunately they still turned out delicious!

Anonymous said...

I just tried this recipe out, and as someone who is not a committed baker, it surprisingly came out AMAZING! Thanks for sharing - sooo good!

Rebecca and Lori said...

Mmmm, saw these on pinterest this morning, and even though it is after 9 o'clock at night, they are now in the oven and soon to be in my tummy! Can't wait to try these! They look amazing and were super easy. Thanks!
~Lori

Jane said...

Hi all you bakers who have recently tried this recipe,
I just wanted to say I am so, so glad you let me know! My family loves these muffins and I am really flattered and pleased that other bakers out there have enjoyed this recipe too! Thank you so much for sharing that info with me and for visiting my blog. I mean it!
Home bakers unite!
:)
Very warmly,
Jane

Erin B said...

Hi Jane -

I just tried these muffins - I came across the photo and link via Pinterest, and it was your amazing photo that caught my interest - and they're cooling as we speak. They look amazing, aside from a few potentially burnt bottoms (damn oven hot spots!). I can't wait to try them! Thanks for posting such great recipes.

Annette B said...

I also found this recipe on pinterest. They are the very best muffins that I have ever tried including both homemade and bakery!! I can hardly wait to try making them with other fruit like peaches and raspberries.

Michelle MacNeil said...

Made these today.....simple yet delicious!! Hubbie & son have such a sweet tooth I drizzled a skim of icing while still warm (icing sugar/milk/almond extract)....awesome way to use up fruit..Thanks

country girl said...

Hi Jane! I made these today for some girlfriends and everyone loved them. They are not so sweet, and I'll add some kind of simple icing next time. Thanks so much for the recipe!

Dawn

Courtney @ Misadventures in Cooking said...

Hi, Jane! I just made these delightful muffins!! I wrote about it on my blog, gave you credit, and linked back. In case you are interested: http://cookingmisadventures.com/2012/04/30/strawberries-and-cream-muffins/

Thanks for such a great recipe!

Anonymous said...

Ijust made these they turned out absolutely phenomenal! The only thing I changed was the amount of vanilla extract I added more amazing muffins other than the extract followed the recipe to the t- also, if you are finding your muffins are turning hard try using cake/pastry flour.

Celeste said...

OH -look so yummy! We will be making these soon! So much better than the gumbit things in the store bought muffin mixes!

Alice Martin said...

These were amazing! Heavy enough to be an indulgent dessert, but light enough to want during the summer. Perfect!

Mimi said...

I just made these, adding a bit of tangerine juice and orange extract. They are wonderful - thank you for the wonderfully decadent recipe! Big success.

restaurant Fort Lauderdale said...

I am speechless. Muffins...strawberries...really, it’s a dream to me. A lot of times, I’ve attempted to make these goodies but all the time, my strawberries seem to “dissolve”. So, I am very grateful to you for sharing these recipes. Finally, I can make muffins without the strawberries dissolving during the baking process. Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

these are AMAZING!!!! i pinned the recipe several months back, but just made them this afternoon. absolutely delicious. even the husband and kids love them (my six-year-old has already asked when this batch is gone, will i go ahead and make some more?). thank you for a great recipe!

Anonymous said...

I made these this evening to send to a neighbor for Mother's Day tomorrow who is a single Mom of 2 young boys. I figured that the boys are too young to make her breakfast in the morning, so I am sending her a basketful in the morning. Figured I better try one before sending them - OMG - it's a good thing I made extra so I can eat some myself - they are incredible!! I made the recipe 1 1/2 times the recipe and got 24 very full muffins - huge by standard muffin-tin size. I used skim milk instead of whole and low-fat cream cheese instead of regular, and omitted the almond flavoring - they turned out beautiful. I also had to adjust the baking time - had to bake them closer to 30 minutes, and I took your suggestion of very lightly spraying the paper liner and the top of the muffin pans and they popped right out of the tins and the paper peeled away cleanly. Thank you for a recipe that I will make again and again - especially when strawberries are in season, as they are now.

dystatic said...

i made these last weekend & they are SO GOOD!!!
i used 2% milk & light cream cheese but they still turned out quite creamy. i did have an issue with the milk not mixing in with the butter? but it all worked out in the end. a picture can be seen here: http://pinterest.com/pin/342273640400548105/
i will make these again & am looking forward to trying to make them with peaches later in the year when they are in season!
thanks for the recipe!!!
/dystatic.

Melanie Firmature said...

These were awesome!!! Made these for my mom's birthday! She LOVED them! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe! (: