Maple Blueberry Muffins

After I made this blueberry sauce, I realized that I still had a whole bunch of blueberries left. I was pretty tempted to just eat them all raw, but I decided not to in the end. 

I was a bit hesitant to make blueberry muffins to be honest. When I think of blueberry muffins, I think of the ones you find in supermarkets. You know, the giant ones that are too sweet, cakey, and kind of....sticky. Those muffins give blueberry muffins a bad name.

A few things give these muffins a one-up on those supermarket ones. First of all, maple syrup. It adds a tasty little hint of sweetness without being super overpowering and crossing over into the realm of "too sweet".

Second, the cinnamon topping. It is entirely optional, but I highly recommend using it. The little bit of crunchy-cinnamony-sweetness makes these muffins more interesting and a whole lot more flavourful. It's like cinnamon toast, but on top of a blueberry muffin.

The batter comes together quicker than it does for the muffins to bake and I bet you have all the ingredients somewhere in your kitchen. Frozen blueberries hanging out in the back of the freezer! Use them! You have eggs and flour and everyone has milk for their coffee or tea. What are you waiting for? Get going!

Maple Blueberry Muffins
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

Cinnamon Topping
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons (28 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

7 tablespoons (105 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 free range organic eggs
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries or frozen unsweetened blueberries, unthawed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a standard 12 cup muffin tin with butter.

To make the topping, combine the flour, both sugars, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using your hands or a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form. You can also do this in a food processor.

For the muffins, in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until completely blended. Add the maple syrup and beat until combined.

In a measuring cup or jar, combine the milk and vanilla.

In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until almost incorporated, then add half the milk mixture. Repeat. The batter will be a bit lumpy at this point, so don't worry. Gently fold in the blueberries, being careful not to overmix.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling them until the batter is level with the rim. Sprinkle some of the cinnamon topping over each muffin. 

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven and transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins and serve warm or room temperature.


Oatmeal Banana Muffins

In elementary school, my friend Emma would sometimes bring banana muffins that her mom made. Her other friends and I would crowd around her, asking for just a little bite and, because Emma was really nice, she would give us some. Once in a while, she would bring extra and we could each have half a muffin! Those muffins would be the highlight of our week. I remember them so well and I always associate banana muffins with Emma and her mom. I also remember the first time I saw blackened bananas in her freezer. I didn't know why someone would keep expired fruit in their freezer... But that's how I found out that it's essential for the bananas to be at  least a little brown. Normally, I wait until my bananas are completely black - no yellow whatsoever. However, I was getting tired of having granola every morning and I had some slightly overripe bananas just sitting on my counter.

A year or two ago, I decided that I wanted to recreate Emma's moms muffins. I started off with a basic banana muffin recipe - no good. Too cakey and sticky. So, I modified it. And modified it. And modified it. I changed just about everything in the recipe so much that I didn't even bother looking at the old recipe, I had a new one in my head. As it turns out, they were nothing like Emma's moms muffins. Hers were dense and were just banana, whereas mine are a bit less dense and there's oatmeal and chocolate chunks in there. A couple months ago, I went to Emma's place and saw that her mom had made banana muffins. I had hyped these up in my head ever since elementary school and seeing them again was like seeing a celebrity. I took a bite... and was a bit disappointed. Maybe I had hyped them up too much or maybe I was used to my muffins, but they just weren't as great as I remember. It was a bit heartbreaking to find out that something I had idolized wasn't all that it was cracked up to be, but at least I still have my muffins to idolize.

Emma, if you're reading this, don't tell your mom I prefer my muffins over hers.

I find muffin recipes to be pretty versatile. If you don't want oatmeal in your muffins, don't put oatmeal in! Just substitute it with flour or whatever else you think would be good - maybe bran, maybe some ground flax seed, maybe walnuts! You want to add more spice? Go nuts! You want to put more chocolate in? Go for it! Once, I even chopped up a banana and put it into the batter just before I put them in the muffin cups, just to make it even more banana-y. 

Oatmeal Banana Muffins

4 large bananas, preferably blackened
1/2 cup light brown sugar (you can also use brown sugar)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup large rolled oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
Oats for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put your muffin cups in a muffin tin.

Mash the bananas in a large bowl with a potato masher or a regular fork. Add the sugar and egg and give it a quick stir. Add the melted butter and stir again. 

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Toss in the oats. 

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add the chocolate chunks and stir again. 

Pour the mixture into the prepared cups. You can make a lot of small muffins or several large ones, whichever you prefer. Keep in mind that if you make the muffins bigger, they will require a few more minutes in the oven. Sprinkle the muffins with rolled oats.

Bake the muffins for 17 to 20 minutes, depending on the size. If you made them substantially bigger, they might need a bit longer than that. 

Remove from oven and let cool in the muffin tin. I find that the muffins always taste better the next day. Store in an airtight container.These muffins keep for about a week or so.

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