Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Raspberry-Topped Lemon Muffins

In a way, muffins have always confused me. They're considered a breakfast food, but they border on being a dessert. I almost never have pastries for breakfast since I'm usually starving 20 minutes later if I rely solely on breakfast sweets. And when I do go down the sweet breakfast path, it's usually an afterthought to what would have already been a filling meal (and usually provided by somebody else). Don't get me wrong, I love a good muffin or doughnut, but I don't understand how that can keep someone going until lunch time. You non-breakfast eaters out there are a total mystery to me.

For me, muffins serve as an afternoon snack. Or a small dessert after a meal alongside some fruit or berries. For this reason, I especially love mini-muffins. They're the perfect 2 bite treat to satisfy my sweet tooth without making me feel overly stuffed. I've been known to eat myself into a food coma (my friends who traveled with me in Turkey have witnessed this in full force), so sometimes even the thought of a rich, heavy dessert is enough to induce the coma. This is when the mini muffin is a much welcomed end to a meal. And there's no way you can say no to this adorable one.

Not only does this muffin have a refreshing lemon flavor, but it's almost 1/3 berry. The bite of fresh raspberry (which can be a little tart) contrasts really well with the sweet muffin. The addition of a whole raspberry to a mini muffin is a great way to cut the sweetness and make it feel much lighter. This recipe is originally from Bon Appetit magazine, but I followed the directions on Smitten Kitchen since Deb simplified the steps and made this a much easier (and more freezer friendly) variation of the original. According to Smitten Kitchen, you can use fresh or frozen berries, but since I had lots of fresh berries, that's all I have tried these with.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen (who adapted it from Bon Appetit via Susan Elizabeth Fallon)
Makes about 55 to 57 miniature muffins (apparently about 14 large muffins)

1 1/8 cups sugar, divided
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel (from 2 large lemons)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces of raspberries

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line you muffin pan with muffin wrappers/liners of your choice. In a bowl, muddle together the lemon peel and 1/8 cup of sugar until the sugar becomes slightly moist. In another bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and 1 cup of sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, then the buttermilk, lemon peel mixture, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix well.

Divide the batter among you muffin liners (about 2/3 or 3/4 full). Place a raspberry on top of each mini muffin and bake for about 17 to 20 minutes, until golden on top. If you're making large muffins, baking time will be closer to 35 minutes and top each muffin with about 4 berries.

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