Vanilla Muffins

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These comforting vanilla muffins are a light, fluffy classic. Enough said.

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Vanilla Muffins (makes 12)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, mix butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla.
4. Pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
5. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, filling each muffin cup about 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean.

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Mint-Filled Brownie Muffins

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This fudgy muffin hides a bright minty surprise. One bite into the warm chocolate reveals the chilly taste of cool, creamy mint.

This quick and easy recipe requires the use of only one bowl, and you may already have the ingredients in your kitchen pantry.

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Mint-Filled Brownie Muffins (makes 12)

1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
3 eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
12 (1 ½-inch) chocolate-covered peppermint patties

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Put chocolate chips and butter in a heatproof medium mixing bowl and microwave, just until melted, in 30 second intervals.
3. Whisk in sugar and salt until mixture is smooth.
4. Whisk in eggs.
5. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa until smooth (do not overmix).
6. Fill each muffin cup with batter to ¼ full. Place one peppermint patty on top of each muffin and gently press it into batter. Distribute the remaining batter on top of each muffin cup.
7. Bake for 30-33 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
8. Transfer muffin pan to a cooling wire rack to cool completely before removing muffins.

*Notes:
Muffins can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers.

Valentine S’more Muffins

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If you’re a Valentine’s Day hater, let me apologize now. Today, I’m going to perpetuate the hype and share s’more.

These s’more muffins are pretty in pink and just as delicious as they look.

S’mores (the Girl Scout concoction of roasted marshmallow with melted chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham crackers) is one part of camping you can re-create in your kitchen without the packing, unpacking, and mosquitos!

Still gooey, these are less messy and more contained than the classic sticky sandwich.

These muffins are the next best thing if you cannot make them by the campfire, in pink, for Valentine’s Day.

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Valentine S’more Muffins (makes 12)

1 ½ cups graham crackers, finely crushed (12 full sheets or 24 square crackers)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 (4.4 oz) extra large milk chocolate bar, broken into rectangles (or 12 miniature milk chocolate bars)
12 large pink marshmallows (or heart shaped)

Topping:
1 (4.4 oz) extra large milk chocolate bar, broken into rectangles
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and butter.
3. Evenly divide crumb mixture into each cup of a 12-cup muffin pan. Use your finger to press an indent into the center of each muffin cup.
4. Bake 7-10 minutes or until edges are bubbling. Pull out and immediately place one mini chocolate bar on each cup.
5. Place one marshmallow vertically in the center of each muffin and push it into the melted chocolate/graham cracker crust.
6. Return muffin pan to oven for 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are slightly softened.
7. Place muffin pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before carefully removing cups from pan. After 5 minutes, gently press marshmallows to flatten them slightly.
8. Transfer muffins to cool completely on wire rack.
9. To prepare topping: place milk chocolate in a small bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute-1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.
10. Dip the top of each marshmallow into the melted chocolate. Turn top-side up and let stand until set.

*Notes:
Store the cups in a single layer in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Freezing is not recommended.

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.