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Cranberry Vanilla Muffins

Cranberry Vanilla Muffins

What the ever-loving heck happened to November?! Well, I hope you had a good one. I guess I’ve had a busy one. Thanksgiving is over and hopefully yours was filled with being surrounded by the delicious food and companionship that you most desire, whatever form that takes. We’re whittling our way through the leftovers in this house (I made a particularly great stuffing this year, if I do say so myself, so that’s making the leftovers extra happy.) Have you got spare cranberries rolling around the vegetable drawer in your refrigerator? I’m giving you one of my all time favorite recipes – Cranberry Vanilla Muffins – to help with that situation.

But first, a few (really) random things from my brain:

  • Did you know that in Iceland (where they publish the most books per capita in the world) they have the very best Christmas Eve tradition of all time? They exchange books and then stay up all night reading. It’s called Jolabokaflod or ‘the Christmas Book Flood’ Now, I’ve never been able to stay up all night in my life but if I could? Heaven.
  • While we’re on the subjects of books – there’s a new place that has just opened in Portland, Oregon – the Rose City Book Pub. Yes, you read that correctly. A bookstore/pub combo. Why this is not more common, I don’t know. Why I never thought of it, I’m not sure. I remember thinking the Duds and Suds (laundromat and bar) that was around when I lived in Chicago was a particular level of genius. But books and beer? Elevated genius!
  • I just heard about this company – Brandless – that offers all kinds of household, food, basic items, all without brands. Here is their mission statement: “Our mission is deeply rooted in quality, transparency, and community-driven values. Better stuff, fewer dollars.” I’ve only poked round their website but I like the idea.
  • Another great, simple, idea. This woman has put together a website called Buy Me Once, listing all kinds of companies and products that are extremely long-lasting, many with lifetime guarantees. To counteract our disposable consumer economy. The website also has all kinds of information connecting you to how to fix things you already have. Again, there are geniuses at work in this world. Good ones.
  • And because holidays are upon us and baking is on my brain, as always, did you know you can make your own vanilla extract? There’s a very simple project for you. Details over on Smitten Kitchen.
  • And I’ve recently fallen in love with the blog Pancake Princess where she does these epic bake-offs for all kinds of things. Vegetarian stuffing was the most recent one – she tests a bunch of popular, internet-available recipes, gets all her friends to come over and sample and rate them and then she does full-on spreadsheets for various factors in order to choose the winners. There are photos and comments and it’s all scientific in a very unscientific way. It’s crazy thorough and nerdy and so fantastic. She did one for sugar cookies and I’m trying her winner sugar cookie recipe very soon.
  • Before we get to that muffin recipe – Banoffi & Such has news (perhaps a small explanation for where my November went!) – I’m headed to Middlebury! Morning treats will be available at The Daily Grind and Shafer’s Market starting next week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Still at Buxton’s General Store on Monday and Thursday.

Back to these muffins – these truly are one of my favorites. I look forward to cranberries in the store for many reasons, not least of which is the excuse to make these delicious and oh-so-pretty little treats. Enjoy.

Cranberry Vanilla Muffins

Ingredients

Batter

  • 1/2 vanilla bean cut into several small pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped I do this with a food processor - a quick few pulses should do it

Topping

  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease or line 12 muffins cups.

  2. Make vanilla sugar by placing the sugar and the vanilla bean in a food processor and process until the vanilla bean is ground into tiny flecks.

  3. In a mixer, cream the vanilla sugar with the butter until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

  4. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk. Fold in the cranberries.

  5. Divide batter between muffin cups. Mix the sugar and nutmeg for the topping and sprinkle generously over each muffin.

  6. Bake until light golden brown - about 25 minutes.

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