I have been on a huge muffin kick lately. It all started with the Mango Coffecake that I put into cupcake tins, and wasn't sure whether to call them cupcakes or muffins. I think now I've decided that they are indeed a muffin. But they're still labeled Mango Cupcake.
Then I came across the lovely Lemon Raspberry Muffin that I cranked up with some melted white chocolate drizzled over the raspberry glaze soaked muffin.
And most recently were the moist and tasty Peaches and Cream Muffins that grew into an enchanted forrest, as they tried to emulate a mushroom patch. (Guess that's what happens when you fill the tins to overflowing.)
I have seriously enjoyed each of these muffins. They are all fantastic in there various flavors. I think before this little muffin frenzy of mine, my favorite go to muffin was the good ole Blueberry Muffin. Just your basic standard muffin, nothing fancy. I had never considered anything else really.
Until I discovered how fun it is to play with your muffins. (we'll blame it all on the Mango Cupcakes).
The other day I was poking around in the world of blogs when I came across these gorgeous Strawberries and Cream Muffins at Janes Sweets. It was love at first site. So of course I printed the recipe and tagged the post. Then I read the instructions. With every intent of changing / altering something to make it my own. Some way of tweaking it. You know what I mean, right?
I couldn't change a thing. Pure perfection. At one point I was going to add a little balsamic vinegar to the strawberries to enhance the flavor. I pulled the jar out of the cupboard and then instantly put it back. The strawberries were begging to remain pure.....so I had mercy on them and let them be.
And I'm glad I did. I'm glad I didn't tamper with this recipe. I'm glad I left well enough alone and did as instructed.
Because these Strawberries and Cream Muffins are the....
Princess of all muffins.
(The title of Queen is reserved for cakes. Don't ask me why.....thats just the logic thats running through my head right now. And muffins are very princessy, don't you think? In a very cute, tea-party, dress-up and indulge sort of way. Besides, when they grow up and become cakes, then they can be queen.)
Well let me tell you....they are moist, delicious and just plain fantastic. When you bite into that sugar and strawberry crusted top and then find the surprise in the middle.....the cream cheese smothered berries.....not only do your taste buds sing....but you find yourself doing that little happy dance that can only be induced by food that gives you pure pleasure.
They are that good!
Please don't let the several steps or lengthy instructions send you off. All the steps are easy....and the extra couple of steps to get to muffin bliss is soooo worth it!
Strawberries and Cream Muffins
Filling: (yep...we're going to start with the filling)
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons of egg. (we'll talk about this in a minute)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar (plus extra for sprinkling on the tops)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped into very small pieces
Preheat the oven to 400'F
Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners
Ok...lets talk about that 1 1/2 tablespoons of egg. You're going to get an egg and beat it. Now don't try and scoop out a tablespoon of egg with your measuring spoon.....cuz the egg will just sorta slide out of the spoon. You gotta scoop the egg into the measuring spoon with another spoon. Be careful not to let any spill slide over the edge...cuz once it starts....the rest follow and you'll end up with an empty spoon again. (egg tends to act like sheep....where one goes, the rest will follow).
In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, 1 1/2 tablespoon of egg, sugar and vanilla extract. Mix with a spoon until its pretty smooth. Don't worry about the little lumps. Set aside (do not chill)
Over low heat, melt the butter. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and the milk. Stir to combine. Let the mixture cool a bit (actually the cold milk cooled my mixture pretty instantly.) Then whisk the eggs in.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and blend until just combined. Over blending will create dense / flat muffins. Lumps and flour streaks are acceptable and expected.
Fill each muffin cup, barely 1/2 full with muffin batter. Sprinkle a little bit of the chopped strawberries in each cup. Top the strawberries with a dollop of the cream cheese filling.
Add more muffin mix (about 1 - 2 tablespoons) to each cup.
Take a few more strawberries and sprinkle them over the tops of each muffin....gently pushing them in a bit.
Sprinkle a generous amount of sugar on top to create that nice crunch.
Bake for about 15-18 minutes...until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out almost clean (that cream cheese and the strawberries might get stuck to the toothpick...doesn't mean it's not done).
Let cool for a few minutes before carefully removing the muffins.
I hope this is normal....and I kinda think it is, considering the filling...but as my little babies cooled, the middles sank. Which actually looks adorable to me.....