Apricot Brown Butter Muffins

Are you a breakfast person?  By that, I mean do you thoroughly enjoy a morning ritual which incorporates a well-rounded meal, a hot cup of coffee, and a briefing on the big stories of the day by the likes of Matt Lauer and Ann Curry?  I do hope so.  If not, I strongly encourage you to give it a trial run for I think you’ll very much like it.  This morning, I find myself having to abandon my usual routine for the sake of a much-anticipated road trip.  That said, I have taken the liberty of preparing tantalizing breakfast fare the night before so that a quick getaway may be made come morning.  Sound like a plan?  Can you dig it?  Very well, let us proceed.

It saddens me that I was completely unbeknownst to the irresistible magic that is brown butter until roughly three weeks ago.  Now that I am well aware that it is nothing short of the cat’s pajamas, I can’t help but use it all the time.  For example, I plan on using it right now!  The delightfully nutty flavor of the brown butter, combined with dried apricots, walnuts, and tastefully chosen spices combine in these muffins to create an all-out flavor extravaganza.  I feel as if this flavor conglomerate packed into one tasty muffin makes it essentially the Justice League of breakfasts, would you not agree?  Me thinks it will be grand (after sampling, I was proven correct for these muffins are, indeed, grand).

A final note before setting off on this particular adventure: I know this seems like a lot of substance crammed into one wee muffin, but it’s always been my kitchen philosophy that overkill is underrated.  I agree that this is a lot of stuff going into one unsuspecting baked good, but why not?  They all taste so good together!  By the time you add all the spices, apricots, and walnuts, this batter will be crazy thick, nearly bordering on dough, but it comes out to be sooooooo tasty.  That small hint of nutmeg really jumps out at you, and the crumbly topping will have you pining for a cup of coffee because it will remind you very much of coffee cake.  Truly, this muffin comes out to be all kinds of right.

Apricot Brown Butter Muffins

Adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook

Makes 12 muffins

Muffin Ingredients:

7 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 cup milk

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg (be generous)

1 cup dried apricots, chopped (dates might be good, too)

1 cup walnuts, chopped

Topping Ingredients:

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Equipment:

2 medium mixing bowls

1 small mixing bowl

1 cupcake pan

12 paper cupcakes cups in the pattern of your choosing

1 electric hand mixer, stand mixer, or whisk

1 medium sauce pan

1 spatula

1 cooling rack

Preheat the oven to 375F.

To brown the butter, place all of the butter (10 Tbs. total) into the medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Allow the butter to melt, periodically mixing to prevent any of it from burning.  After all of the butter ha melted, it will start to crackle.  Fun fact: that delightful popping is actually the water making its escape from the confines of the butter.  After a short while, the crackling will slow and the butter will start to turn brown.  The browning will happen rather quickly, so keep an eye on it.  Once the butter has reached a good brown color, lighter than the color of maple syrup but darker than your typical Hefeweizen, and begins to smell nutty (it’ll smell really good), remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into the small mixing bowl.  This will prevent the butter from burning in the pan.  Be sure to get all of the small brown bits out of the bottom of the pan for they are utterly delightful and you’ll be happy that you saved them.  Allow the butter to cool slightly before using; you can pop it in the fridge for a short spell to speed this up.

In one of the medium mixing bowls, add all of the wet ingredients (milk, egg, yolk, vanilla) except the brown butter.  Mix all of the wet ingredients together, then add 7 Tbsp. of the slightly cooled brown butter.  Whisk some more to combine.

In the second mixing bowl, add all of the dry ingredients (both flours, both sugars, baking powder, salt, spices) and mix to combine.  Gently, add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir until just combined.  Next, add the chopped apricots and dates and mix until just combined.  Filling each about 2/3 of the way full, equally divide the batter among the 12 cupcake cups.  Do not bake them yet.

To make the topping, mix the 3 Tbsp. remaining cooled brown butter, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 3 Tbsp. brown sugar, and 1/2 cup walnuts together until just combined.  Ideally, you’ll have large clumps rather than an even mixture.  Sprinkle a bit of the topping onto each of the cupcake cups, very gently patting down to make sure that the topping has made contact with the batter.

Bake the muffins for 19-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.  Allow muffins to cool for 10 minutes before transferring them onto a cooling rack (to do this, I fished them out of the pan with a fork so I wouldn’t risk losing any of the topping).  Make them in the morning to enjoy right our of the oven, or make them the night before and give them a 10 second zap in the microwave just before you consume them in the morning.  Muffins will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for about 3 days, or they can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.  Either way, enjoy!

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