My Merry Muffin Mood

Muffins are indeed an easy treat to bake and enjoy morning, noon, or night!

My muffin tins have been working overtime this past week probably because I have been in a merry muffin mood! So when a fellow state-fair baking friend, Cristen, shared her recipe for Snickerdoodle Muffins on her blog http://foodandswine.com, I knew I had to give them a try. Now, Cristen is also an award-winning baker, having captured thousands of dollars of prize money with her food inventions and culinary talents. I need not have even given a second thought to changing-up her recipe because I knew the outcome would be dynamite great!

But, Dear Readers, if you have chatted with Miss NiNi via newspaper, blog, or radio, you are well aware that Miss NiNi (MN) can’t seem to make a recipe as it is published without embellishing it with the ole MN creative zing! After all, nothing ventured is nothing gained! As I pondered the ingredients required, my mind was already racing in super-charge gear! I couldn’t wait to get to the baking aisle in my favorite grocery store to find the experimental ingredients I envisioned.

But alas, Dear Readers, just when I laid eyes on what I thought I needed to complete my magic muffin concoction, the muffin madness part of my brain said, “Hold up! Why not switch gears and play with a new ingredient?” So, that’s what I did!

Wouldn’t you know, on the shelf right at my eye level was a one-pound bag of Organic Coconut Sugar. With curiosity aroused, my inquiring mind read the words on the front of the bag that described the product—“Non-GMO, Measures Cup for Cup in All Baking Applications, Sustainably Grown.” Then checking the reverse side of the bag, it was as if confirmation for using this product for my particular recipe was staring me in the face. Low and behold, there was that word, “Snickerdoodle” in a recipe printed on the glossy bag’s surface.

Now, I really enjoy munching on roasted cinnamon-sugar almonds. Therefore, with cinnamon and sugar being the dominant flavors in a snickerdoodle muffin, adding almond extract and slivered almonds was a no-brainer to me. I’m all about adding crunch to a recipe, too.

Without further ado, I searched the world-wide web for a recipe for sugared almonds to use as a delightful crunchy topping addition to the already cinnamon-sugar streusel yum. Bingo! Recipe found, prepared, tasted, and considered great!

So, Dear Readers, after tasting my hybrid snickerdoodle muffin, did I declare it worthy of the creative excitement? Indeed, I did! I truly enjoyed the addition of almond extract and especially the terrific sugared almond flavor and crunch in the topping.

Now, are you wondering if the coconut sugar altered the flavor of the muffin? To my distinctive tastebuds, the muffin’s sweet flavor was acceptably left undeterred without coconut amendment. I did detect a slightly lingering unusual flavor but certainly not unpleasant. But remember, coconut sugar can be substituted for granulated sugar cup for cup in a recipe. If using granulated sugar is your preference, my assurance is given that you will have grand results!

No matter which of these two sweeteners you choose, why not “snicker” your way to a pleasurable muffin treat!

SNICKERING ALMOND MUFFINS

SUGARED ALMONDS:

1/3 c. sliced almonds

1/4 c. coconut sugar or granulated sugar

MUFFIN INGREDIENTS:

2 c. all-purpose flour

½ c. coconut sugar or granulated sugar

¼ c. light brown sugar

1 T. baking powder

¾ t. ground cinnamon

¼ t. salt

½ c. (1 stick) butter, melted and slightly cooled

2 large eggs

¾ c. milk

½ t. vanilla extract

1 t. almond extract

STREUSEL INGREDIENTS:

2/3 c. all-purpose flour

1/3 c. light brown sugar

½ t. ground cinnamon

5 T. cold butter, cut into ¼” pieces

METHOD:

For Sugared Almonds: Place almonds and coconut sugar/granulated sugar in frying pan and place on stove burner. Turn heat to low and stir until almonds start to turn color and sugar forms into beads and coats the almonds. Turn out almonds on to a cookie sheet to cool.

For Muffins: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 16 regular-size muffin cups with nonstick baking spray. Place the pans on a baking sheet. Whisk together flour, coconut sugar/granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat well. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Do not overmix. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

For Streusel: In a small bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add pieces of cold butter and toss together until pea-sized crumbs are formed. (This can be done by pinching the mixture between your fingers.) Sprinkle over tops of muffins, gently pressing into batter to secure in place.

Sprinkle sugared almonds over top of streusel as desired. Bake for about 18-20 min or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool for 5 min. before carefully removing each muffin. Can be stored in airtight container for a few days.

Miss NiNi