Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fresh Cranberry & Apple Muffins with Almond Streusel Topping . . .

One weekday morning a few days ago, while in the kitchen assembling my kids' school lunches, my husband sat at the table munching his breakfast of oatmeal with a sprinkling of dried cranberries on top. He tries to be relatively careful about what he eats most of the time, and he picked up the cranberry package to read the nutritional info on the back. After a moment he remarked to me, "Where can we buy dried cranberries that don't include sugar?" To which I replied, "I'm not sure they exist. Plain raw cranberries are incredibly tart and they're pretty much unpalatable. I think they have to add sugar to dried cranberries or nobody would eat them." He muttered something then that sounded like, "Hmmm . . . damn."

Now, having had a little time to ponder, I figure I could be totally wrong about that. Maybe health food stores sell unsweetened dried cranberries? I don't know, but I should investigate further. Dietarily, I understand the hubby's interest in having no-sugar-added cranberries atop his healthy bowl of oatmeal.

As a baker, however, I don't feel the least bit handicapped by a need for fresh versus frozen versus dried cranberries--sweetened or not. Most recipes that call for cranberries are incredibly versatile; have you ever noticed this? Especially when we're talking about something as forgiving as a muffin recipe. You can almost always reliably use fresh, frozen, or dried berries and expect fine results.

These muffins were made with the first bag of fresh cranberries that I happened upon in the grocery store a couple of weeks ago. And, please don't tell this to the Cranberry Police, but I'm planning on hoarding several more bags before the season's through--gonna stick those guys in the freezer for future reference. They're not around for long, you know. But they freeze like champs. Just fling 'em in there, right in the bags they came in. Get 'em while they're around, bakers! Go ahead and hoard those babies. Just do it, and don't look back.

About this recipe . . . 

These muffins are made from a hybrid recipe I concocted after baking about a zillion different muffin recipes in the last few years from who-knows-how-many sources. I hope you like these as much as I do (and I like them a lot). Oh, and feel free to leave the apple out of these altogether if you prefer your cranberry muffins straight-up.

Cranberry & Apple Muffins with Almond Streusel
 (For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

Ingredients for the muffin batter:
3/4 unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup orange juice
2 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
3 and 1/2 cups All Purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal (whole almonds ground finely, but not until they become paste-like!)
1and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt (or 1 tsp. regular salt)
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 pinch each, ground cinnamon and nutmeg
1 and 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup apple pieces (peeled, cored, chopped small; I used a Jazz apple--sweet and crispy!)

Ingredients for the streusel: 
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 granulated sugar
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small chunks
1 pinch kosher salt (or regular salt)
1 tiny pinch cinnamon
1 tiny pinch nutmeg

To make the streusel (make it before doing the batter): 
In a medium size bowl, mix together all the streusel's dry ingredients. Then, using your fingers or a fork, lightly squish the butter into the dry ingredients; the streusel should be kind of lumpy looking. Set it aside.

Prepare your pan and preheat the oven:

Prepare 24 regular size muffin cups, or 12 - 14 jumbo muffin cups. If using paper liners, lightly spray them with vegetable spray; spray even the top area of the muffin pan between the cups. If not using liners, then spray the metal cups, along with the top of the pan, generously with vegetable spray.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To make the muffin batter:

In the large bowl of your mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy. Blend in the room-temperature eggs, then blend in the sour cream, buttermilk, orange juice, and the extracts.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add this into the liquid ingredients, beating on low speed just until combined.

Add in the cranberries and apple pieces (if you're using them), blending on low speed just until combined.


Using a portion (ice cream) scoop, equally divide the batter among the muffin cups. Top them evenly with all of the streusel.

Put the muffin pan(s) on top of a baking sheet to help prevent the bottoms from burning (I always do this with muffins--it's a lifesaver!). Bake the muffins until the tops are golden, they spring back when lightly pressed on top, and when a toothpick inserted deeply into the center comes out clean. Anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes depending on the size of your muffin cups. If they seem to be browning long before they're really done, be sure to cover them lightly with a sheet of foil.

Let the muffins cool for a few minutes while in the pan on a rack, then remove them to finish cooling 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!)


Unknown said...

Oh I bet these are awesome, I have yet to bake with cranberry. yum

Chele said...

How Christmassy ;0)

Unknown said...

Wow, these muffins look so delicious...can I have one?

Bye bye from Italy!

june in ireland who loves to bake said...

As always, your recipes, photos and your words inspire and motivate me to try my hand at baking something gorgeous in the kitchen - this is definitely another combination I'd like to have a go at...provided I can find some cranberries. Good advice with going the frozen route if the local health food shop doesn't have them. I think I've seen them there, albeit dried, so if I can't find them in the frozen section, I'll see how the dried ones fare.

After a very hectic but fun weekend selling at the first Christmas crafts fair of the season, I needed to unwind and relax. What better way than to bake? And bake I did. I baked two loaves of bread yesterday (one white and one whole wheat) and today, feeling adventurous, I brought out the bag of dessicated coconut, the bag of ground hazelnuts, and some nice, ripe bananas and baked a baker's dozen of what I've nicknamed 'tropical muffins.' Hubby gave a thumbs up, so I'm happy.

Thanks for sharing this one, Jane. It's a great, late autumnal/early winter combination.

eatgood4life.blogspot.com said...

Ok so these just look to die for. I was trying to make more muffins but lately, with Christmas around the corner, I find myself trying other tasty sweets.

Well, I think I have to get back onto muffin mode, thanks for the reminder :-)

Audrey said...

what a great combination of flavors! I'm looking forward to trying these.

Jane said...

Hi Jennifurla--
Oh, you've got to get some cranberries this fall and give them a whirl. Bake something good! ;)


Hello there Chele,
Yes, they are! You're right about that. But it's a little too early for me to be thinking about that holiday just yet. :)

Dear Elly,
No problem! I'll pack some up for you right now and ship them off! And you send me some real Italian food, okay? Ha! ;)
Thanks so much,

Hi June,
Sounds like your muffins were fabulous! I adore baking with coconut, too. Thanks for always saying such nice things, my ex-patriot baking pal!
Jane ;)

Hi Miryam,
I know what you mean. I've started thinking about holiday baking, too, but can't bring myself to get into too seriously yet. NO Christmas cookies, yet!
:) Thanks again,

Hello Audrey,
I think the almond flavors really warm up the tartness of the cranberries, and the apples add a moist sweetness. I can't resist a good muffin, any time of year.
Thanks for stopping by,
Jane :)

Paula said...

Look so wholesome and delicious! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Jane said...

Hi Paula--
Thanks very much! You too.
:) Jane

Anh said...

I would love to get some fresh canberry! The muffins look so awesome!

Katie said...

They look gorgeous and so festive with those glossy cranberries

Anonymous said...

Amazing recipe. Muffins of all types are a great idea! I love the look of this recipe.

The Daily Smash said...

Looks yummy thanks for sharing.

Check out my food blog at www.thedailysmash101.blogspot.com


adrienzgirl said...

Muffins are my favorite breakfast food ever. Good cup of coffee or tea and a muffin makes the day start right! These look amazing!

Stella said...

Ooh, Jane. These are so pretty! I might go make some muffins now;-)

Alina said...

I think it's a great idea to combine apples and cranberries! The muffins look great! I baked some cranberry muffins this fall - both with fresh and dried berries - and fresh cranberries added so much more flavour! I used wild cranberries though, that are very very tart. The dried cranberries we have here are actually kind of candied, so they're always made with a lot of sugar.

HanaĆ¢ said...

Wow, these are very decadent. I love almonds + cranberries together (sometimes I like to add orange zest too). I love that the batter has sour cream and buttermilk in it.

Alma said...

They look delicious...
I saw yesterday that now they're selling fresh cranberries quite cheap in a supermarket here in Frankfurt... so... I'm baking these next week for sure!!!!
Thank you for sharing it!!!

Christina of Form V Artisan said...

Hi Jane - great site.
Stop by my blog for some great baking tips straight from a Food Scientist!
Cheers, Christina.


Mags @ the Other Side of 50 said...

Saving this recipe for the overload of fresh cranberries I bought these past few weeks. (I'm a cranberry hoarder too...lol)

Regarding dried cranberries without added sugar, I searched high and low for them when I was on the South Beach diet and never found them. But I know they must be out there somewhere.

Melanie Big said...

If you just look at the cupcakes it doesn't have cranberries. But if you take a bite it is full of crunch because of the almonds, apple and the cranberries. I should try this one and I am sure that my kids love this one.

Chef Basket said...

Thanks for this great recipe for cranberry and apple muffins with almond streusel topping. They look wonderful!!

Anonymous said...

I just got my Family FUn magazine and it references your blog for a s'mores brownie like recipe . . . Where do I find it on your site.
Thx, lee

Anonymous said...

I just got my Family Fun magazine and it references your blog for a s'mores brownie like recipe . . . Where do I find it on your site. Would love to make them !
Thank you !

Jane said...

Hi Anonymous,
Here's the link to the s'mores post in my blog . . .

You can also find it within the blog by going to the "search this blog" box on the right-hand side of the blog not far from the top, and typing in "smores".

Thanks very much for stopping by!
Jane :)

melanie schoenhut said...

This is the one what I am looking for. A muffin that is full of crunchy toppings and everything. This perfect for our Christmas party this coming 19th of December. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Jess Runs said...

I made these yesterday morning for Christmas brunch. Ah-mazing! My step father claimed they were like getting a treat at Starbucks, but it actually tastes good! (He says Starbucks treats look good and never live up to their looks). I'm glad the recipe made so many, I had two for breakfast this morning, and gifted some to the neighbor too. Definitely making them again!