Red Velvet Cream Cheese Muffins

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A red carpet delicacy, these cream cheese muffins are a muffinized™ Red Velvet cake, perfect for watching the Academy Awards (tonight). The color is rich and red, thanks to the beet powder, which is undetectable by taste.

The cream cheese swirled into the batter adds a subtle tang and provides extra moisture. The crumb topping is sweet, sandy, and slightly crunchy – it’s difficult not to pick off each crumb one by one!

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Red Velvet Cream Cheese Muffins (makes 12)

Crumb Topping*
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced into cubes
*recipe yields extra crumb topping

Cream Cheese Mixture
4 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Muffins
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 large egg
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tsp beet powder (or 2 tsp red liquid natural food coloring)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. Crumb Topping– In a medium mixing bowl, add the sugar and flour. Use two forks or a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until you have coarse crumbs; set aside.
3. Cream Cheese Mixture– In a separate medium mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and beat with a handheld electric mixer until smooth, or whisk by hand until smooth; set aside.
4. Muffins– In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
5. In a separate medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, buttermilk, cocoa powder, and beet powder.
6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until moistened. (Do not overmix. Batter is thick and lumpy.)
7. Fold the cream cheese mixture into the muffin batter, being careful not to overmix. Some streaks of cream cheese should remain.
8. With an ice cream scoop, spoon batter into muffin pan, filling each cavity to two-thirds full. (Do not overfill. If cavities are too full, the crumb topping will spill onto muffin pan).
9. Evenly sprinkle each muffin with the crumb topping.
10. Bake for about 17 to 19 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

*Notes:
Muffins will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

 

 

Muffin Pan Popovers

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Delicious and perfectly puffy, these popovers look like a picture in a magazine. They are crisp on the outside and custardy on the inside.

Before attempting this recipe, I thought popovers were tricky to make, only by pastry chefs in restaurants. But this recipe is full-proof – just whisk the ingredients, pour into tins, and bake (no peeking!). A half hour later, the most glorious puffed pastries emerge. These hollow culinary treats are nicely eggy on the inside and easy enough for my kids to make. You need only five ingredients and a muffin tin to pull them off.

It’s always best to eat popovers fresh from the oven, but if you need to make them ahead of time, just as you’re ready to eat, warm them at 350 F for about 5 minutes, until warm and crispy again. (My kids like them soggy, too, ‘though).

These popovers make a great side dish for a Christmas or holiday dinner. They are wonderful for breakfast with jelly or honey or butter.

Popovers freeze well – place in an airtight bag or container for up to three months.

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Baking Tips:

*To get the popovers to puff, heat the empty muffin pan in a very hot oven before pouring in the batter. Then, halfway through the baking time, lower the heat to let them dry out.
*Frothing the batter just before you pour it into tins helps popovers puff.
*Cutting a slit in the bottom of each popover helps steam escape as they cool, which gives a great effect.
*Keep the oven door closed during baking to ensure a consistent oven temperature and prevent the popovers from deflating.

Muffin Pan Popovers (makes 12 small or 6 large)

1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

1. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter until completely combined. Add flour and salt and whisk until frothy and bubbly.
3. Preheat oven to 450 F. Let popover batter rest while the oven heats (this adds texture and gives the flour time to absorb the liquid).
4. Put muffin pan in the oven for 2 minutes to warm.
5. Remove pan from oven and distribute remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter between the muffin cups. Whisk the batter to froth, again, and fill each cup halfway.
6. Bake popovers for 15 minutes. Do not open the oven door during baking (or popovers will deflate).
7. Reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes. Now you can open the oven door to check popovers. They should be golden brown, dry to the touch, and sound hollow when tapped.
8. Remove popovers to a wire cooling rack. Pierce bottoms with a knife to allow steam to escape. Cool just enough to handle comfortably.
9. Eat immediately.

Spinach Ricotta Frittata Muffins

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These spinach ricotta frittata muffins are the most go-to of my muffin repertoire. Muffinizing frittata is effortless and involves minimal steps. Each of these is a no-mess meal that requires not a single fork. Serving them for company is impressive, and they fit perfectly into school lunch boxes.

Dense with protein from the ricotta/spinach duet, these muffins are dainty but strong and full of flavor. Although they do not contain butter, their golden edges seem to hint of butter. They are delicious, right out of the oven, at room temperature, and even cold.

These muffins bring memories of Sunday brunch, but also work well for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner.

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Spinach Ricotta Frittata Muffins (makes 12)

4 large eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese (low far or full fat)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup (or one 10oz box) frozen chopped spinach
1/4 tsp salt
onion powder (to taste)
garlic powder (to taste)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. Thaw spinach in microwave and squeeze out extra juice.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and stir in ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses.
4. Stir in spinach, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.
5. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon mixture into muffin cups.
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until muffins are set and golden on top.

Hot Chocolate Peppermint Muffins

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Tis the season for hot chocolate, so why not muffinize™ a mug, or two. In this recipe, the rich chocolate, peppermint, and toasted marshmallows make the perfect threesome. The buttery-taste is bursting with melting chocolate and the mini marshmallows, along with peppermint chips, add a festive touch.

The chocolatey deliciousness (from a muffin filled with chocolate chips) overpowers the whole wheat flour that sneaks some nutrition into the calorie-laden fun that abounds during the Christmas season.

Serve with hot chocolate and/or popcorn under a cozy blanket while watching Christmas movies.

If you have leftover muffins, pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds, and they’ll taste like they’re right out of the oven.

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Hot Chocolate Peppermint Muffins (makes 18)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaping cup dark chocolate chips
½ heaping cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup peppermint baking chips

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, mix whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together white sugar, brown sugar, butter, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
6. Use an ice cream scoop to fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. Prod 3 mini marshmallows on top of each muffin and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon of peppermint chips.
7. Turn the oven temperature down to 350F and place the muffin pans in the oven. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Do not over bake.
8. Allow the muffins to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Serve warm or cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.