Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Entertaining Your Family: Easy Muffins

One of my favorite afternoon snacks is a nice homemade, slightly warmed, buttered muffin. Rounded out with a cup of tea, it is comfort all around - especially in the colder months.

This is one of my favorite muffin recipes. Something about the almond extract adds a touch of elegance and a nice decadence not found in your typical blueberry or bran muffin.

In my house, we always have sour cream in the fridge, and we always seem to have sour cream that needs to be used up. My husband loves the stuff, I can't stand it (on it's own - in baking it is pure magic), and he can never seem to eat enough perogies or tacos to finish the container he insists I buy at every trip to the grocery store. No worries though - this recipe will make use of it (as do many quick bread recipes and even some cakes), and it helps to create a moist and tender muffin as a result!

I prefer to use fresh cranberries in this recipe, so that's how it is written. If you choose to use dried (which I did for this photo as a matter of fact because it was all I had on hand at the time), that works too. Just reduce the amount ever so slightly as the dried cranberries are much sweeter. Also, these make great use of any fresh cranberries you may have popped in your freezer after Thanksgiving! (See Cranberry Post for more info on freezing cranberries).

Cranberry Almond Muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
3/4 cup fresh cranberries, halved

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and butter twelve 1/3 cup muffin cups.

Into a bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Melt butter, and in a small bowl whisk together with sour cream, egg, and almond extract. Stir butter mixture, almonds, and fresh cranberries into flour mixture until just combined (do not over mix). Divide batter among muffin cups and bake in middle of oven until golden and tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes.