Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

Dark winter mornings are a little sweeter when I can start them with a small muffin along with my coffee. The tang of lemony cake, a burst of blueberry, and a slight crunch of topping — it’s just a nice, cheery way to begin the day. I want a muffin in a manageable size, not those ginormous monster muffins you get in stores. And I want it to taste fresh, yet I definitely don’t want to haul out of bed early every morning to make myself a fresh batch.

These Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins work perfectly for all of the above. A little fruit, a little butter, a little crunch . . . it’s all there. And they freeze well so you can pull them out as needed. They’re tasty for a snack anytime. Cupcake-sized, they’re super portable and an easy food to gift because they don’t have to be eaten instantly.

This recipe is adapted from Deb Perelman’s great- and liberating – Smitten Kitchen cookbook, and there’s also a website to check out.  I make these in cupcake size baking cups and freeze them so as to have muffins handy. They keep fine covered on the counter for a couple days.

This recipe has two parts, batter and streusel. This is the total ingredient list for both:

  1. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  2. 2/3 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt (nonfat is fine)
  3. 1/2 to 3/4 tsp fine lemon zest (add more if you want batter more lemony. One lemon should give you enough)
  4. 1/2 tsp good vanilla
  5. 4 large eggs
  6. 3 cups of sugar, divided
  7. 1/2 generous tsp fine kosher salt
  8. 4 tsp baking powder
  9. 1 cup and 2 TBS cornmeal, divided
  10. 2 3/4 cup flour, divided
  11. 1 1/4 cup butter (2 and 1/2 sticks), divided
  12. 4 cups of blueberries, washed and dried or, if frozen, defrosted. Basic frozen blueberries work fine in this but the nicer they are, the better the muffin.

Assembly and Baking:

  1. Soften 1 cup/2 sticks of the butter for about an hour or more on the counter. Take the chilled 4 TBS of butter and cut it into small pieces while cold and set aside for the streusel
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get out your muffin pans and cupcake liners and set those up. This recipe makes about 36 cupcake sized muffins or 24 bigger muffins
  3. Whisk dry ingredients together in two different bowls:
    • Set #1, main batter: 2 cups flour, 1 cup cornmeal, all the baking powder and salt
    • Set #2, streusel:  3/4 cup flour, 2 TBS cornmeal, all the cinnamon, pinch of table salt plus 1 cup of the sugar
  4. In a high sided bowl, beat 2 cups of sugar into the butter for at least two minutes, until fluffy and well combined
  5. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla and lemon zest
  6. Toss the blueberries with about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture (Set #1) You want those berries coated but not extra flour floating around
  7. Add half the remaining flour mixture to the batter bowl and stir until just combined
  8. Add all the sour cream/yogurt and stir until just combined
  9. Add the other half of the flour mixture and stir until just combined
  10. Taste batter. If you want it more lemony, add more zest
  11. Add coated blueberries and stir until just combined
  12. Add butter to streusel (Set #2) flour and combine using a pastry blender or fingers
  13. Put batter into muffin cups:
    • For cupcake sized muffins, about 1.5 heaping scoops using a large cookie scoop. Or fill the cup to 1/2 to 2/3 full, depending on how big you want your muffins
    • For big muffins, fill 1/2 to 2/3 full
    • For small, 3oz muffins, use small cookie scoop to fill cups 2/3 full. (Love those Simply Baked stand-alone baking cups when I’m in splurge mode. So, so pretty!)
    • Mini muffins: haven’t tried yet. Will update if I do
  14. Top each muffin with streusel:
    • For cupcake sized muffins, 1-2 teaspoons
    • For big muffins, about 1 TBS
    • For others, eyeball it. The streusel adds a yummy sweetness and crunch
  15. Bake on middle rack for about 35-40 minutes until cake tester comes out clean (note: streusel will cling to the tester so test a bit not covered in streusel)
  16. Allow muffins to cool in tin or turn out right away depending on your confidence level of doneness
  17. Plate and cover the quantity of muffins that will be eaten in the next two days and leave on the counter. Freeze the rest in a zip bag and take out as needed. These defrost quickly on the counter. Serve at room temperature or warm.

 

One Recipe, Two Great Cookies! Peanut Blossom & Peanut Butter Cookie Bites

This recipe is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, 2006 Edition.

I’ve never been happy with the peanut blossom recipe I learned in high school. It was sweet, yet somehow not tasty enough.

I now use this recipe to make both simple peanut butter cookies and peanut blossom bites. Thanks America’s Test Kitchen! Your abiding passion for getting the taste right and making great recipes accessible has helped me so many times!

I make the dough and freeze it, which allows me to enjoy fresh cookies whenever. Using a smaller quantity of dough per cookie than the original recipe lists makes about 50-80 cookies per batch, depending on how parsimonious you’re willing to be with the cookie size. For peanut blossoms, a smaller cookie gives you a higher chocolate-to-cookie ratio. Frozen cookie dough balls, a bag of kisses and baking instructions makes a nice gift.

One Recipe: Peanut Blossom / Peanut Butter Cookie Bites

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 sticks (16tbs) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup extra crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 generous tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk (it adds a little chewiness in my almost-high altitude location)
  • 1 cup salted, dry-roasted peanuts, ground a little in a mini food processor
  • Chocolate kisses (needed for peanut blossoms only, 50-80 if you want to make a full recipe)

Special equipment:

  • Hand mixer
  • Mini food processor
  • Baking parchment
  • 1″ cookie scoop

Prepping:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (or for my janky oven, 355)
  2. Whisk first four dry ingredients together in a bowl
  3. Grind 1 cup of dry roasted peanuts in the mini-food processor, not super fine
  4. Beat butter & sugars together in a large bowl until well mixed, about three minutes
  5. Beat in peanut butter till fully incorporated, about 30 seconds
  6. Beat in vanilla
  7. Beat in eggs and yolk, one at a time
  8. Reduce mixer to low and slowly add in flour mixture until combined
  9. Mix in ground peanuts

For Peanut Butter Cookie Bites:

  • Use 1″ scoop to place balls onto parchment lined cookie sheet, 12 cookies per sheet
  • Flatten cookies gently with classic criss-cross pattern using a fork
  • Bake for ten minutes
  • Allow cookies to cool on parchment
  • For freezing dough:
    • Scoop balls onto a plate
    • Allow to cool in fridge for 30 minutes, separating layers with wax paper
    • Flatten with a criss-cross
    • Stack flattened cookies in bag, separated by wax paper and freeze
    • To cook, follow above times and temps, no changed needed
    • Note: Dough doesn’t have to be flattened. It’s just cosmetic. So if you’re not sure whether you want to use frozen dough for peanut blossoms or regular cookies, use the instructions below instead.
Peanut Blossom Bites. If you keep the dough scoop smaller, your chocolate-to-cookie ratio is higher.
Peanut Blossom Bites. If you keep the dough scoop smaller, your chocolate-to-cookie ratio is higher.

For Peanut Blossom Bites:

  •  Use 1″ scoop to place scant 1″ balls onto parchment lined cookie sheet, 12 cookies per sheet
  • Bake for nine minutes
  • Unwrap one kiss for each cookie
  • Place unwrapped chocolate kisses in middle of each cookie
  • Bake for two more minutes
  • Allow cookies to finish cooking on sheet for five minutes
  • To chill cookie and chocolate quickly, place on plate in fridge
  • For freezing dough:
    • Scoop balls onto a plate
    • Allow to cool in fridge for 30 minutes, separating layers with wax paper (this helps keep the balls from flattening when you’re wedging them in the freezer)
    • Transfer balls to gallon bag and freeze
    • Keep excess kisses in freezer. You know, if there are actually any.
    • To cook, follow above times and temps, no changed needed

 

Ginger Molasses Cookies adapted from Model Bakery Recipe

One of the things I do miss about California living is access to The Model Bakery in Napa and St. Helena. My sister gave me their new cookbook and some of my yearning was alleviated.

I love their Ginger Molasses cookie. It’s always great with tea on a cold day, morning coffee while camping, or just about anytime. It’s my favorite winter cookie. This dough freezes well so it’s easy to have some cookies ready to go anytime you get company.

This is how I adapted their wonderful Ginger Molasses Cookie recipe:

 Ingredients

  • 4 cups of pastry flour (cookbook uses regular flour)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1.5 cups (three sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 2 eggs, ideally at room temperature (so sitting out for 30-60 minutes)
  • 1 egg yolk, also ideally at room temperature (this is my addition, to make the cookies chewier in my almost high altitude)
  • 1 generous tsp of vanilla, good quality (yes, I always splash a little extra in)
  • 3/4-1 cup demerara or raw sugar (Model goes for a half cup so this is obviously to taste)

Cooking

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (355 F on my janky oven)
  2. Sift together flour, spices, salt and baking soda
  3.  Beat the sugars and butter together for about two minutes. Electric mixer or stand mixer both work great
  4. Beat in the molasses
  5. Beat in the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time
  6. Beat in the vanilla
  7. Lower mixer speed and add the flour mixture, one third at a time
  8. Now it’s time to roll the cookies into balls for cooking. The dough might be a little too sticky to work with. If it is, refrigerate for a half hour
  9. Pour the demerara sugar into a small bowl
  10. Take a small cookie scoop or teaspoon and roll dough into ball. I use my smallest, one inch scoop. The cookbook calls for a much larger, 1/4 cup dough ball, making a nice bakery sized cookie
  11. Roll ball in sugar to coat (or dip one side in, if you prefer the cookbook way)
  12. Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet
  13. Bake for 11-13 minutes depending on how crispy you want it
  14. Remove cookie sheet from oven and cool on sheet for five additional minutes
  15. While cookies are cooking/resting, make the rest of  your dough balls, rolling each one in sugar. I put these right into a freezer bag and freeze all the dough I don’t need to cook right away. The sugar coating keeps the balls from sticking too much together
  16. To cook frozen cookie dough balls, everything is the same: 350, 11 minutes, five minutes to finish cooking on the sheet
  17. These cookies will stay tasty for three-five days if stored in airtight container

Are you going to try this one? If so, please let me know your thoughts and tweaks. Thanks!