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[Muffin Fail, then] Muffin Win: Coffee Cake Muffins w/ Sweet Glaze

11 Mar

Last week, a club that I’m a part of held a bake sale to raise funds for our activities. I agonized over what to bake. I needed something that would be tasty and unique, yet with broad appeal to the masses (aka groggy college students stumbling their way to 8am classes on a Monday morning). Muffins fit the bill, but what kind? Typical of me, I couldn’t decide between my new favorite muffin, Black and Blue Muffins with Almond Streusel, or a muffin that I had yet to discover. So I went with both, as I was dying to try Coffee Cake Muffins by Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.

There was good and bad news. Which do you want first? Bad, you say? OK.

The bad news was that I couldn’t resist experimenting with what I thought were fool-proof Black and Blue Muffins. I decided to to use a mixture of three berries instead of the usual blackberries and blueberries. Also, the last time I made these muffins, I let the frozen berries defrost then added them to the batter. A lot of “bleeding” of the juice occurred, so I tried Joy of Baking’s suggestion of throwing the frozen berries into the batter directly. The result was that there was still bleeding, yet it also took longer to bake the muffins. By the time the top of the muffins were done, the bottom of the muffins were too dry 😦

I was devastated! There I was, trying to bake something good enough for people to pay money for, and it wasn’t my best work 😦 I wanted to scrap them completely but my husband convinced me that they were still very good…just not as good as the time before. So, reluctantly, I packaged them for the bake sale. Luckily, those bake sale patrons probably don’t know what they’re missing in terms of how good those muffins usually taste. But lesson learned: if it aint broke, don’t fix it!

But now for the good news. The coffee cake muffins were great! I wasn’t so sure about them when they first came out of the oven because they didn’t taste very sweet. But just a little glaze on top made all the difference. I was very pleased with these ones 🙂 I think my husband was, too. As he enthusiastically “tested” the muffins, he tried to convince me that were terrible (I could see through his motive: he wanted the muffins to stay at home with him). 🙂

Muffin win!

Coffee Cake Muffins with Sweet Glaze (recipe by Sweet Pea’s Kitchen)


For the Streusel Topping:

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

For the Muffins:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream

For the Milk Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk


  • For the topping: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and toss with a fork to coat with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes before using.
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line 24 muffin cups with muffin liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • For the muffins: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  • Using a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed. Stir in vanilla extract by hand. Add flour mixture and sour cream and stir until just combined.
  • Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle half of the strudel mixture over the muffins, gently pressing it into the batter. Sprinkle evenly with remaining strudel mixture.
  • Bake rotating the pans halfway through until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool completely before removing muffins.
  • To make milk glaze, whisk the powdered sugar and milk together in a small bowl.
  • Place muffins on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and drizzle with glaze.

Glaze: Fun to eat, not to clean from counter

This story does have a happy ending. I learned a new muffin recipe, and even though my other muffins weren’t up to my standards,  they were still quite good. Better yet, the bake sale was a success and the club raised a lot of money. And we all lived happily ever after.


Almond and Lemon Biscotti with White Chocolate Drizzle

20 Feb

Yesterday evening I went to a little gathering at my friend’s house. She makes delightful homemade chai tea, so I thought I’d bring along a treat to accompany it.

At first, my first experience in making biscotti was something of a misadventure. The original recipe by Giada calls for white chocolate chips melted over a double-boiler. I tried her strategy but failed miserably, I think because despite my best efforts, the hot water touched the bottom of the bowl above it. The result was a disastrous big lump of white chocolate. That was the last of my white chocolate chips, so I was desperate to save it. The biscotti is somewhat savory and needs the white chocolate for sweetness. So I foolishly added heavy cream to the white chococlate lump. Suffice it to say, that did not work…AT ALL.

At that point, it was almost time for me to get ready to leave, and I could not arrive with naked biscotti. Suddenly, I remembered making white chocolate cake a while back with some Baker’s white chocolate bars. Could it be that I had some left?? I frantically searched through my cupboard, and alas, there it was! And just enough for my biscotti. A sense of relief washed over me.

Of course, I had learned my lesson and did not try to get fancy with the double-boiler again. Instead, I melted the chocolate in the microwave and got a much better result.

The biscotti turned out quite nice. The cornmeal makes them taste authentic and rustic (but you may not like the addition of cornmeal if you’re opposed to a somewhat gritty texture). They are also quite firm, even though I reduced the cooking time and temperature from the original recipe. But, biscotti are supposed to be firm– they soften up when you dip them in your coffee or tea. That is their purpose, after all.

Delicious morning treat

Almond and Lemon Biscotti with White Chocolate Drizzle (adapted from recipe by Giada De Laurentiis)


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest (from about 3 to 4 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped whole almonds
  • 5 ounces white chocolate


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.
  • In another large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixture until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest and then the flour, and beat until just blended. (The dough will be sticky). Stir in the almonds. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  • Divide the dough evenly into 2 equal mounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. With moist hands, space the dough evenly apart and form into 2 (9 by-3-inch) logs. Bake for 35 minutes until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick diagonal slices. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on the same baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn off the the oven, but leave the biscotti in for approximately 10 minutes longer. The biscotti should be pale golden. Let cool completely.
  • Place the white chocolate bars in a microwave-safe medium bowl. Microwave as box or bag directs (usually microwave for 30 seconds on high, stir, then microwave 50 seconds more, and finally stir until melted and smooth).
  • With a spoon, drizzle white chocolate over biscotti. Let sit until white chocolate has hardened. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 20 biscotti.

On second thought…

19 Dec

I just tried the gingerbread from last night again. The glaze I had drizzled over them had set, and with my morning cup of tea, they actually tasted pretty darn good. Not perfect, but good. I can live with that.

First [mis]adventure

18 Dec

Sigh, so my first real post has to be about a misadventure? I regret to say, yes.

Today I embarked upon making some form of gingerbread. I scoured several recipes to find one with the best reviews– one that would be foolproof. Ultimately, I decided upon Gingerbread Bars I found on Epicurious. Here’s the recipe, as written:

* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
* 7 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
* 2 large eggs
* 1/4 cup light (unsulfured) molasses

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 15x10x1-inch baking sheet. Place 2 cups flour in medium bowl; transfer 2 tablespoons flour to small bowl and reserve. Add spices, baking soda, and salt to flour in medium bowl; whisk to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and 6 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then molasses. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and beat to blend. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Sift reserved 2 tablespoons flour evenly over batter, then sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake gingerbread until golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 22 minutes; cool completely in pan on rack. Cut gingerbread crosswise into 4 strips, then cut each strip into 6 pieces, forming 24 bars, each about 31/2×13/4 inches. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead.Store airtight at room temperature.
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I did make some adjustments. Based upon reviews, I doubled the spices. And against my better judgment, I did not make the one adjustment that intuitively seemed necessary: eliminating the step of dusting flour over the top of the bars before baking. Alas, the flour did not completely sink down into the bars, so I was left with floury-tasting gingerbread bars.

I did attempt to rescue them. I brushed off as much flour as I could, then made a quick glaze, which helps. I added 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar, about a tablespoon of milk, a dash of vanilla, a few squirts of lime juice, and several grates on the microplane of fresh ginger. After the glaze sinks into the gingerbread bars a little, they do taste a lot better, and I am pleased with the moistness of the bars. Still not something I’m proud to serve, though.

Anyone have any truly fool-proof gingerbread recipes??