Oooh, you are going to love me for these! You may be thinking these muffins look familiar. You are paying attention! Yes, they are the winter cousin of the most awesome blueberry muffins ever.
I really wanted to make a fresh cranberry muffin, but I was having a hard time finding a recipe that looked trustworthy. Then I realized, duh, I already have the best muffin recipe ever. Cranberries aren't too different from blueberries - more tart, less juicy - but that can be compensated for. Just strategically added a little more sugar, some orange juice and some orange zest instead of lemon. Ta-da! Now we can have the best-muffins-ever all year round!
Orange Sugar Topping:
1/3 cup sugar
2-3 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh cranberries, picked over and divided
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 6 teaspoon sugar, divided
2 T orange juice
2 1/2 cups (12½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour (if you have a scale, weigh it, don't measure it - it's worth it)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk *
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
*If buttermilk is unavailable, substitute 3/4 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk.
1. Bring 1 cup cranberries, 4 teaspoons sugar and 2 T orange juice to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon (I used my potato masher) several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
3. For the topping: Stir together sugar and orange zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.
4. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Roughly chop remaining 1 cup cranberries and toss with 2 tsp sugar; set aside.
5. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until combined, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and chopped cranberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not over mix.)
6. Use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly).
7. Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using small spoon (or spoon handle), gently swirl berry filling into batter. Sprinkle orange sugar evenly over muffins.
8. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 15 to 19 minutes (don't over bake), rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving. Makes 12 muffins
Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated
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