Spider Muffins (Creamy Cornbread Muffins)

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Inspired by a recipe for New England Spider Cake, these muffins don’t require a “spider,” or even resemble the insect.

“Spider” is the name of the cast-iron skillet, used in Vermont for making cornbread. This recipe works just as well in a muffin pan as in the cornbread skillet used during the nineteenth century.

The “trick” to making these muffins is to pour cold cream over the batter, prior to placing it in the oven. As the muffins bake, the cream sinks, forming a custardy middle layer. This produces a muffin of different textures and flavors: the center is sweet and creamy while the top and bottom is buttery and crisp.

This cornbread-pudding-soufflé is like nothing else! Now, take pleasure in telling your children you’re making “spider muffins.”

Spider Muffins (Creamy Cornbread Muffins) (makes 24)

2 cups milk
4 tsp white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup heavy cream
Maple syrup, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.
2. Combine the milk and vinegar in a bowl and set aside to sour (wait 5 to 10 minutes — you’ll see the milk get lumpy).
3. In another bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
4. Whisk eggs into the soured milk. Stir into dry ingredients and set batter aside.
5. Add melted butter to batter (batter will seem liquidy).
6. Distribute batter evenly into 24 muffin cups.
7. Pour cream into the center of each muffin cup.
8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges start to turn golden brown.
9. Serve warm, with maple syrup if you’d like.

Now, put on some cozy slippers, curl up, and indulge in sweet, simple deliciousness.

 

Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

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There is a burst of chocolate in every bite of these tall, domed muffins with beautiful crackled tops. The batter is laced with cinnamon and nutmeg and stuffed with Nutella. Fresh-out of the oven, the muffins are dunked into butter so that every crevice is coated with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. The finished product has the fluffiness of a donut but the soul of a muffin.

Nutella was invented during the 1940s when cocoa was in short supply. An Italian pastry baker used hazelnuts to enhance the chocolate he had in his bakery. Mixed with hazelnut, a family could use a jar of spreadable chocolate for many weeks. Nutella owner, Michele Ferrero, sometimes referred to as a real-life Willy Wonka, died last Saturday (yes, Valentine’s Day) at the age of 89.

This recipe is a keeper not only because it’s scrumptious, but also because its ingredients are mixed in a single bowl. So get out your (one) bowl and start baking.

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Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Muffins (makes 8)

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk (cow, almond, soy)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
8 tsp Nutella

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl mix together the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg, vanilla extract, and milk.
3. Gently stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. (Do not overmix – stir until just combined).
4. Into each muffin cup, spoon 1 heaping Tablespoon of batter. Then, add 1 teaspoon of Nutella in the center, and spoon another heaping Tablespoon of batter on top. (If the muffin tins are completely full, that is ok. They will not overflow.)
5. Fill the empty muffin tins halfway with water for even baking.
6. Bake at 425 F for 5 minutes. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce temperature to 350 F and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes until batter is set.
7. Allow muffins to cool for about 5 minutes.
8. While the muffins are cooling, make the cinnamon-sugar topping: Melt the butter for about 30-60 seconds in the microwave. In a separate small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.
9. Dip the top of each muffin into the melted butter and then dip into the cinnamon-sugar mixture (swirl them around to ensure they are thickly coated). Set muffins upright on a wire cooling rack.

*Notes:

-Muffins stay fresh for up to one week in an airtight container.
-Muffins freeze well, up to 3 months.
-Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring them to room temperature before serving in the morning. Or, zap frozen muffins in the microwave (10-15 seconds).

 

 

Popcorn Muffins

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As if “popcorn” is not the epitome of flavors, this buttered popcorn muffin is oozing with a creamy caramel center. The recipe blends the salt of popcorn with the sweetness of Dulce de Leche.

These muffins are made with air-popped popcorn. Make a double batch for your Super Bowl gathering or movie night. Serve for an after-school or midnight snack.

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Popcorn Muffins (makes 12)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
2 cups unsalted popcorn, popped
12 pieces of popcorn for decoration (optional)
¼ cup (12 tsp) Dulce de Leche Caramel spread

1.Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, vanilla and butter.
4. Pour wet ingredients over the dry mix. Stir until completely incorporated.
5. Fold in 3 cups of popcorn and stir (popcorn will break up into smaller pieces).
6. Fill muffin cups 1/3 full. Spoon 1tsp Dulce de Leche spread on each muffin cup and cover with the remaining batter.
7. Place one piece of popcorn on the center of each muffin cup.
8. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

 

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.

 

Apple Cider Muffins

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Apple Cider Muffins

Whether it’s apple season or not, these muffins are reminiscent of the flavors of Autumn. Right out of the oven, they taste like earthy, spiced, sweet apple cider with cinnamon.

The crumbly Streusel Topping is made with a small amount of delicious butter, but some kids might be turned off by the grainy texture.

For adults, add finely chopped walnuts. For kids, instead of the Streusel Topping you might dip the tops of the baked muffins into melted butter first, and then roll the tops in a mixture of cinnamon sugar.

You will want to dunk these into your morning coffee. These smell heavenly and are freezer-friendly if you happen to have any leftovers. And remember, the streusel topping makes crumbs (you won’t care after you taste them!)

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Apple Cider Muffins (makes 12)

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup apple butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil

Streusel Topping

2 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
4 tsp whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp walnuts, finely chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. Prepare Streusal Topping: In a small mixing bowl, mix brown sugar, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, and walnuts (optional). Mix in pieces of butter. You can use your fingers to make mixture like coarse crumbs. Set bowl aside.
3. Muffins: In a large mixing bowl, whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in apple butter, maple syrup, apple cider, yogurt, and oil.
5. Make a well in the dry mix; add the wet ingredients to the dry mix and stir until just combined.
6. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon batter into muffin cups.
7. Sprinkle muffin cups with the Topping.
8. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire cooling rack.