December 3, 2011

Cranberry Nut Muffins

I first spotted these cranberry nut muffins almost four months ago, in the august/september of Cook's Illustrated.  Immediately I knew I wanted them.  It was August and I wanted cranberries, something was very wrong there.  So I waited, patiently.  Not a week went by when I didn't think about this little recipe.  Now finally, finally I've gotten to it, and they were well worth the wait.  In implore you though, not to wait four months, make them now and see what I am talking about.

As promised in the magazine article I read and re-read so many times, the muffins came out moist, delicate, with plenty of nutty flavour and zingy (not sour) cranberries.  The delicate streusel on top has loads of crunch.  Please! Do not hesitate.  I know I'm not the most poetic or convincing of writers but these are amazing.  I've floored myself with my restraint by only having one.  Five went out to the in-laws along with a Christmas card and the rest are chilling in the freezer, waiting for tomorrow morning (or dessert tonight!)

Cranberry Nut Muffins

I say nut muffins because you could make them with a variety of different kinds.  The original recipe called for pecans, I used walnuts and almonds wouldn't be that far off the mark.

If you only have frozen cranberries: Microwave them in a bowl until they are partially but not fully thawed 30-45 seconds.

Makes: 12
Source: Cook's Illustrated #112

Streusel Topping:
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
4 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks, softened
1/2 cup walnuts

1 1/3 cup (185) ap flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and cooled
1 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar (200 g)
2 eggs
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup milk
2 cup fresh cranberries
1 Tbsp icing sugar

With the rack in the upper-middle, heat oven to 425 degrees.  Put the flour, sugars and butter in the bowl of a food processor until the mixtures looks like coarse sand, 4 or 5 pulses.  Add the walnuts and process until the nuts are coarsely chopped, 4 more pulses.  Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with baking spray.  Whisk the flour, baking powder and 3/4 tsp salt together in a small bowl.  Blitz the toasted walnuts and sugar in a food processor bowl until the mixture resembles coarse sand, 10 to 15 seconds.  Transfer the nut/sugar mix to a large bowl.  Add the eggs, butter, milk and whisk until combined. Whisk flour mixture into the wet batter until just moistened and no flour streaks remain.  Set the batter aside for 30 minutes, it will thicken considerably.

Pulse the cranberries, 1/4 tsp salt and icing sugar in the food processor until very coarsely chopped, 4 to 5 pulses. Using a spatula fold cranberries into the batter.  With an ice cream scoop, evenly distribute batter between muffin tins, mounding slightly in the middle.  Evenly sprinkle the streusel on top, pressing lightly so it sticks.  Bake for 17 or 18 minutes, until the muffin tops are golden and just firm.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then pop the muffins out and cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.  

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