Monday, February 6, 2012

"Ultimate" Cappuccino Muffins

It’s very rare for me to have breakfast without coffee anymore, and with this muffin recipe, I can make mine a double. That’s because these delicious little babies have a hefty dose of scalded milk with espresso powder right in the batter. I’m not saying I could eat one (or two or three) for breakfast and forgo the cup of coffee, but in the event of some kind of coffee-brewing mix-up, I could probably survive.

This recipe comes from The Ultimate Muffin Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. These authors have never steered me wrong, and I love these Cappuccino Muffins. I added a little almond extract to my muffins and stirred cinnamon directly into the batter (rather than sprinkling it on top as in the original recipe) just to customize them a bit.

I think you could customize these muffins many, many other ways as well. I’d like to add some cocoa, or the chocolate chips or hazelnut flavored syrup suggested in the book. Perhaps I could also use this coffee-infused scalded milk method to flavor up other goodies like coffeecakes, pancakes, or a loaf of bread. I’ve also considered cutting the amount of butter in the muffin recipes in this book, but I don’t get much beyond considering. I’m terrified to mess with all that deliciousness.

Of course, any further variations I might try would take some long-term preparation. It just isn’t safe for me to attempt rampant creativity in the morning before I’ve had my coffee or coffee muffin. Perhaps I’ll stick to this version of the recipe for a while. I can’t imagine I’ll get tired of it any time soon. A couple of these muffins make for the breakfast of champions! Well, coffee-drinking champions, anyway.

Cappuccino Muffins
Adapted from The Ultimate Muffin Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

You could use instant coffee, which might be easier to find in decaf, in place of the espresso.

8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
1 cup milk (I used 2%, but whole or skim will also do)
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan by spraying the cups with cooking spray or lining them with paper liners.

2. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.

3. In a small saucepan, heat the milk just until boiling, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan. You just want to go until there are a few bubbles, not a full boil. Whisk in the instant espresso and set aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Whisk together to mix well.

5. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the egg and the cooled butter until well combined. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent cooking the egg. Whisk in the vanilla and almond extracts.

6. Add the egg and milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined and all the dry ingredients are just moistened. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each about ¾ full.

7. Bake at 400 F for about 18 minutes. You can test to make sure the muffins are fully baked by inserting a wooden pick in one. It should come out without any wet batter sticking to it.

8. Remove the muffins from the oven and cool them in the pan on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and let stand on the wire rack until they are cool enough to eat. Store leftovers in a zip-top plastic bag for a day or two, or freeze, well wrapped, for longer storage.

Makes 12 muffins.

Another recipe like this one: Rhubarb Sour Cream Muffins (Got rhubarb from last summer in your freezer? Or is it just me?)

One year ago: Red Flannel Hash with Spicy Mustard

Two years ago: Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

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