Monday, April 7, 2014

Hazelnut Latte Muffins

This recipe is a simple variation on one of my favorites in the archives, these Cappuccino Muffins. Guided once again by The Ultimate Muffin Book, and my love, love, love of hazelnuts and hazelnut flavor in coffee, I made some mighty fine little breakfast cakes.

All that I did was swap out some of the sugar sweetening the original espresso-infused muffins with the hazelnut-flavored syrup I use to sweeten my homemade lattes. I also stirred in some chopped hazelnuts, which I had toasted and skinned ahead of time (and stored in the freezer) using the method outlined in this post.

These muffins are delicious. Delicious! But my absolute, years-long obsession with hazelnut-flavored coffee drinks made this recipe a guaranteed success in my kitchen. Well, I was tempted to see how good the basic formula could still be if I reduced the butter a tad and put in some whole grain flour (probably whole wheat pastry flour), but I’ve had enough training in the realm of experimental science to know that creating too many variables is just asking for trouble. And guaranteed success is something you just don’t mess around with.

Maybe someday I’ll get brave enough to try to make these muffins a little healthier. Until then I’m going to take their yummy hazelnut-espresso-ness in stride, and be pretty content with having cake for breakfast. Muffins are cake. Let’s just get over it.

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

8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
¾ cup milk (2%, whole or skim will do)
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
¼ cup hazelnut flavored syrup (such as Torani brand)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted and skinned

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 hazelnut syrup. Set aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. 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 extract.

6. Add the egg and milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined and all the dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in the hazelnuts. 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.

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