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Lemon Almond Muffins

Lemon Almond Muffins

I love lemon, that’s one of discoveries about myself in recent years. I use lemon on a daily basis– starts with my warm lemon water in the morning, juice and zest for cooking and baking, scraps to rub my cutting board before washing it, then finally I cut into pieces and toss into the garbage disposal– giving out refreshing scent when it’s grinding…

Recently I was craving for very lemon-y baked goods, but all the ones I bought from stores failed me. So I searched up internet, then came out with my version. My inspiration came from a delicious lemon semolina cake that I had before. The lemon syrup really pops out the tangy flavor so don’t skip it. As a matter of fact, add more of it. NOT zesty enough? Add some lemon curd in the center of the muffins , either before baking or upon serving. Still want MORE? Fancy up with piped lemon butter cream or whipped cream then sprinkled with finely grated lemon zest… I promise you’ll be in Lemon Heaven~~~

Lemon Almond Muffins

Lemon Almond Muffins

Lemon Almond Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 3 lemons– finely grated
2 eggs– room temperature
3/4 cup plain yogurt– see note below
4 tbsps fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter– melted

Lemon syrup:
Juice of 1 lemon (about 5 tbsps)
3-5 tbsps sugar– depending on tanginess of lemon juice, adjust accordingly

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Line muffin molds with cup liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix in sugar, almond meal and lemon zest.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, yogurt, lemon juice and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour in melted butter, whisk again until all combined and smooth.
  4. Pour wet mixture into flour mixture. Use a spatula fold in the batter until it just combines together. Do not over work.
  5. Spoon batter into muffin molds. Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, until the top is golden brown and muffin top springs back when lightly pressed.
  6. Remove muffins from muffin molds and transfer to a cooling rack. Use a skewer to poke several holes on muffin tops.
  7. Prepare lemon syrup: boil lemon juice and sugar in a small sauce pan on low heat, until sugar dissolves and syrup slightly thickens to a shiny stage.
  8. Carefully spoon lemon syrup onto the muffin tops. Do it slowly so the syrup seeps into the cracks and toothpick holes. You can also swirl muffin tops in the lemon syrup if there is leftover syrup. Served warm.

Regina’s Note:

  • Plain yogurt: can be replaced with sour cream.
  • Lemon syrup really brings out the tangy lemon flavor so don’t skip it. Another add-on is lemon butter cream/whipped cream on top of muffins
  • For a really lemon-y flavor from inside the muffins, fill muffin molds with batter to half way, add a tsp of lemon curd in the center, then fill with batter to the top. You can also, upon serving, cut muffins horizontally in half, and spread lemon curd in between.

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The orange zest really gives these rich chocolate muffins a bright, fresh flavor, and they taste just like orange dark chocolate candy. Better yet, these muffins freeze well for a quick orange chocolate indulgence.

Merry Christmas, from my kitchen to yours!

Dark Chocolate Orange Zest Muffins

Dark Chocolate Orange Zest Muffins

Chocolate Orange Zest Muffins– adapted from Moufflet 100 Gourmet Muffins by Kelly Jaggers (yields 12 muffins)

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 4 large oranges
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, plus extras for topping

Method:

  1. Line muffin pan with paper liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and brown sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, milk, eggs, oil, vanilla extract, and orange zest. Whisk to blend well.
  4. Make a well in the center of dry mixture. Pour in wet ingredients all at once. Use a spatula, gently fold in the ingredients until it is almost combined. Then fold in 1 cup of chocolate chips. Do not over work the batter.
  5. Spoon batter into lined muffin cups. Dot the tops with extra chocolate chips. Bake at preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when gently pressed in the center. Cool in the pan for 3 minutes the transfer to a cooling rack. Muffins are best when served warm.

Regina’s Note:

  • Sour cream and milk: this recipe was created using whatever leftovers I had in my refrigerator. Use 1 cup of sour cream or plain yogurt if available. My general rule around this flexibility on liquid is that when it’s whisked with the eggs the consistency should be slightly thicker than heavy whipping, or just like a creamy salad dressing.
  • Orange zest: original recipe uses 1 tbsp of orange zest, but don’t think it will have much orange flavor. I used zest of 4 large oranges (roughly 5-6 tbsps) and the flavor was very nice.

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For the last several years we have been celebrating Thanksgiving with our friend the Eppenberger Family. They make delicious cranberry sauce from scratch every year, and I always save extra cranberry sauce to make these delicious muffins.

The muffin batter is pretty much consisted of the “orange” part while the “cranberry” part comes from the cranberry sauce filling. It tasted so good, tangy and refreshing. Although the batter is dense and thicker than average muffin batter, but after baking the muffins were very nice– golden brown on the top, light and fluffy inside. I think I nail it down this time– the secret is egg separation method. It’s a bit more work, but definitely worth the efforts.

Orange Cranberry Muffins
Orange Cranberry Muffins
Orange Cranberry Muffins

Cranberry Orange Muffin Recipe (makes 12 muffins)

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
5 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking power
1/4 tsp salt
zest of 2 oranges

Egg yolk mixture:
2 egg yolks– room temperature
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup whipping cream
4 tbsp melted unsalted butter– keep warm
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Egg white mixture:
2 egg whites– room temperature
2 tbsp sugar

Filling:
12 tsp fresh cranberry sauce– see note below

Topping (optional):
Chopped walnuts

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line muffin pans with muffin cup liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift flour, 5 tbsp sugar, baking power and salt. Mix in orange zest. Make a well in the center.
  3. Whisk all ingredients (except melted butter) in egg yolk mixture to blend well. Add in melted butter and mix well again. Pour into flour mixture. Use a spatula to fold in just enough to moist. The batter will be stiff. Do not over mix the batter.
  4. In a separate clean bowl, whip egg whites on high speed until it looks white and bubbles are very tiny. Gradually add in sugar. Continue whipping on hash speed until soft peak (curve tip) forms.
  5. Fold in whipped egg whites into the batter in 2 batches.
  6. Fill each muffin cup 1/3 full, spoon 1 tsp cranberry sauce in the center. Top the muffins cups with remaining batter, covering cranberry sauce all around. Sprinkle some walnuts on top if used. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown, and the muffin top springs back when lightly pressed. Remove to cool on a rack for 5 minutes before serving.

Regina’s Note:

  • Eggs: be sure to use room temperature eggs. A quick way is to soak eggs in luke warm water for 10-15 minutes to bring to room temperature.
  • Cranberry sauce: cook the sauce a bit longer (can use microwave, uncover and reheat for a few minutes) so it gets thicker, and stay nicely in the center of the muffin instead of leaking to the surface of the muffins.

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