To me, there’s little better than a hot latte and a fresh pastry to go with it for a weekend breakfast. During the week I am diligent about how much exercise I get and what types of food I put into my body, but on the weekends I let it slide a little, and love having a muffin or a scone for breakfast, sometimes even two days in a row! It’s always such a treat for me, and part of being a baker is that I can often create pastries that are as good as, if not better than those you can buy at a bakery.
These muffins make for a great fall breakfast or snack, and they’re not so bad for you that you feel guilty eating one (or two… or three) of them. To me they embody the fall season and all of the associated flavors, with the hint of orange and the dried cranberries and the crunchy walnuts. The addition of cream cheese into the batter lends a different texture than your average muffin, and more moisture too. A sprinkle of sugar on top creates the perfect crispy crust, and makes for a prettier presentation too.
The recipe came from Yankee Magazine, which I hadn’t baked out of until recently. My mom had dog-eared a whole bunch of recipes, and this was the first I tried. I can already anticipate a few more for our Thanksgiving festivities, but given how this one came out I’m happy to try some more! This recipe makes a LOT of muffins, so you can either feed a small army a great breakfast, or freeze them and reheat in the oven before enjoying, maybe slathered with butter? One thing to note if you do make these is that the cooking time seemed a bit high to me. I checked mine at maybe 21 minutes and they were plenty done, so I’d start checking after 18 minutes just to be safe.
Whatever you do for Thanksgiving this year, make it a good one!
Orange-Cranberry Nut Muffins
adapted from Yankee Magazine
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar plus extra for garnish
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease the cups of two muffin tins or insert paper baking liners. Set aside.
1) In a medium-size bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir with a whisk until blended; then set aside.
2) In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat well. Scrape bowl; then add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla and orange zest.
3) Using a wooden spoon, alternately add milk and flour mixture in two batches, stirring by hand just enough to combine ingredients. Stir in walnuts and berries.
4) Scoop batter into muffin cups, each cup about three-quarters full. Sprinkle tops with extra sugar. Bake until tops are golden brown and spring back when touched, 20–25 minutes.