Monday, November 30, 2009

Cranberry Almond Cream Cheese Muffins


Can I be honest for a second?

I am not a muffin person.
At all.

When I sit down and think about what I want for breakfast, I never think: "Gosh, I could really go for a jumbo blueberry muffin right now..."

New York crumb cake on the other hand, is an entirely different story. But that's irrelevant.

Muffins aren't usually on my list of things I crave; I'd go for a bowl of oatmeal with some sliced bananas and cinnamon before I'd go for a banana muffin, even if it had the same taste as my oatmeal.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'd rather eat something that looks like more for breakfast than just a hand-sized muffin.

I'm also not a cranberry person... unless those cranberries are reduced to a sauce with balsamic vinegar and lots and lots of sugar. They are way too tart for my liking and I even dislike craisins, to an extent, because they are too sweet. Cranberries seem to get a bad rep in my life for being too tart or too sweet, so I never got into the habit of using them or eating them or including them in my every-day diet.

So the fact that one of the first baking recipes I ever made from scratch was: 1) A muffin and 2) filled with cranberries; is sort of ironic in a funny "wow, that's unexpected" kind of way.

But I've come to realize that bakers are just that. Unexpected. Weird. A little funky. And a little too quick to lick the spatula.

(Yeah, right. Since when is anyone too quick to lick the Spatula/bowl/detachable mixer handles?)

Personally, I love my little almondy cranberry muffins. They pack some serious moistness due to the fact that they are made out of 8 ounces of cream cheese instead of a cup of butter. In fact, these little muffins are probably low-carb power houses and if you happen to be on a low-carb diet then you'll wanna whip these babies up in no time because they are pretty gosh darn filling.

They don't need any additional oil to keep them nice and mosit -- the cream cheese does all the work. And the fact that they've got about 3/4 cup of oats thrown into them just means you're getting your whole-grain carbs, too!

Okay, now I'm just looking for excuses to make a muffin sound healthier than it is.
Forgive me. Some days I'm a baker. Some days I'm a dietitian. It's a rough line to balance on.

While you can choose to bake these in regular muffin tins, I go for the mini muffins one, just because that means that I have more of them and plus -- everything looks cuter when it's mini. Except Minnie Mouse. She's just creepy.

So if you're not like me, and you like cranberries and muffins, definitely make these. They're good. They're kinda good for you. And they are totally yummy.

Cranberry Almond Cream Cheese Muffins
(Recipe By: Alexandra Ramirez)

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond meal/almond flour
3/4 cup oats, quick-cooking
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup fresh chopped cranberries
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds or slivered almonds

CRUMB TOPPING
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds
6-7 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease 2 12 cup mini muffin tins (or a 12 cup regular muffin tin)

2. Whisk together flours, oats, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla extract, and beat in briefly.

4. In another seperate bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and remaining sugar until smooth and thick. Pour into the bowl with cream cheese, and blend on low until just combined (be careful not to overbeat here).

5. With a wooden spoon or spatula, begin to stir in flour mixture slowly. As you are stirring in the flour to the cream cheese mix, slowly pour the buttermilk in along with it. Continue to stir until there is no flour left. Your batter should be very lumpy but still wet.

6. Stir in cranberries and almonds.

7. Fill in muffin cups with batter about 3/4 of the way (a heaping tablespoon should do it for the mini muffin tins).

8. Prepare crumb topping by stirring the almond meal, chopped almonds and sugar together. Add melted butter. Stir until thoroughly coated and crumbly. Sprinkle generously over muffin tops.

10. Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes. Muffins should be lightly brown on their sides but still generally light colored. When out of the oven, loosen the edges of the muffin from the tin with a clean, slick knife. Remove and cool on wire wracks.

Makes 24 mini muffins or 12 regular sized ones.

2 comments:

How To Eat A Cupcake on December 1, 2009 at 3:12 PM said...

Mmm I like cranberries, almonds, and cream cheese, so I believe I'd LOVE these muffins! ;)

Jelli Bean on December 2, 2009 at 12:11 PM said...

These look tasty! I understand the baker-dietician comment. It seems that when I'm home I'm either checking out healthy recipes online, baking very UNhealthy recipes, or outside jogging off everything in between. I'm sure the cream cheese in these makes them very scrumptious indeed!

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