Saturday, March 24, 2012

Browned Butter Blueberry Crumb Muffins

Remember way back in the day, back in the really early days of this blog when I made a Blueberry Buttermilk Cake?  It was around that time of the summer when my mom and I went a bit insane and nearly cleared out the produce section of our supermarket of blueberries, since they were at the amazing price of only 99 cents a pint.  I used some of the blueberries I bought while they were still fresh, I ate maybe about another pint entirely by myself, and I froze the rest.  There was one afternoon last summer where my freezer was literally full of trays of blueberries being flash frozen before I transferred them into large freezer-safe bags. Having these frozen blueberries on hand has been such a huge advantage; I've used them countless times since, and I still have about another two bags of blueberries left!  I made some pretty awesome blueberry muffins with them.  

Yup, these muffins were made with blueberries purchased last summer, and they are undoubtedly the best blueberry muffins I've made to date.  There are three reasons for this: reason number 1 pertains to my plain and simple love for the blueberry muffin in itself; despite being a serious chocaholic, blueberry muffins will always win; reason number two lies in the presence of a buttery crumb topping on each muffin; this should be self explanatory, as the delicious-ness of all baked goods exponentially increases with the presence of extra bits of butter and sugar baked over the top of whatever the baked good in question is; reason number three is perhaps the most interesting, in my opinion at least.  These muffins are made with "browned butter."  

I had actually never experimented with browned butter prior to making these muffins.  If you've worked with browned butter before, this might sound ludicrous, since browned butter (as I quickly discovered) really intensifies the flavor in the food that you are preparing.  To brown butter, all you need to do is melt some butter in a saucepan or skillet, and cook it until it turns, well, brown.  Simple enough right?  Just make sure to keep a close eye on the butter as it cooks, since butter is one of those things that can burn very quickly if left unattended.  As the butter cooks, it acquires this sort of nutty taste that will really come through in the dish being prepared, and is a great way to finish off and intensify any recipe (sweet or savory) that you are preparing.  I can't believe it took me so long to make something with browned butter! I think this may have just opened up a whole new world of opportunities...

These muffins are simple to make and highly delicious.  They come together very quickly, requiring only two bowls, a whisk, and a wooden spoon- nice!  I do have one small comment to make, however.  I personally felt that the crumb topping as made per the original recipe instructions was just too much.  I ended up having about half of the crumb topping left over in the bowl, despite sprinkling it as evenly as possible among all the muffins.  Below, I've given the full amounts for the crumb topping, but I  think that you could get away with making only half.  

Browned Butter Blueberry Crumb Muffins- enjoy them for breakfast, afternoon snack, midnight snack, when-you-wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-stumbling-to-the-bathroom snack, study-break snack...these muffins are perfect for any time of day.  Enjoy! 

Browned Butter Blueberry Crumb Muffins
recipe from Joy the Baker


For the Muffins

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries

For the Crumb Topping

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, and diced into small cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar


Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 375 degrees F.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. 

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or skillet set over medium heat. Melt and cook down the butter until it begins to form little brown bits.  Keep an eye on the butter as it will begin to brown quickly.  Once it has browned, remove the butter from the heat. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Add the browned butter, and stir to combine.  

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the wet ingredients all at once, and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.  Gently fold in the blueberries.  Divide the muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups (I used a cookie scoop to ensure uniform muffins).

To make the crumb topping, combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl, and with a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the cold, diced butter, until large crumbs form.  Sprinkle the topping evenly over the muffins.

Bake the muffins in the oven until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.  Allow the muffins to cool in the pan set over a wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing them from the pan and placing them directly onto the wire rack.  Serve the muffins warm, or allow to cool completely.



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