Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Browned Butter Cranberry Muffins

After Thanksgiving, it's always interesting to see which leftovers disappear first, which get transformed into something else, and which stragglers remain after everything else is gone.

When we're done with turkey sandwiches, and the carcass and leftover vegetables have made their way into soup, there's usually one straggler left in the fridge: cranberry sauce. It lasts a long time before spoiling, like any jam or jelly. But there comes a point where I've had enough cranberry-smeared toast and it's time to get creative with the last of it.

Fortunately, cranberry sauce makes a great addition to muffins. The color is pretty, the sweet-tart of the berries is interesting, but the flavor doesn't scream "Thanksgiving leftovers." You can coax the flavor along with new ingredients, if you want to transform it even more. Ginger, orange zest or cinnamon would be lovely depending on what's already in your sauce, or just use it plain. If your homemade sauce was good, it will make very nice muffins. So nice, in fact, that you might want to grab a few extra bags of cranberries and freeze them so you can make this again when the berries have disappeared completely from the stores.

I've only tried this recipe with my own homemade sauce, so I'm not sure how it would work with a store-bought sauce. I'm guessing that a chunky sauce would work much better than a plain jelly that would throw off liquid ratio too much.

This recipe isn't super-sweet - these muffins would be perfect with breakfast, brunch, or dare I say it? - even with dinner.

Browned Butter Cranberry Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup home made cranberry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with papers. Or, if you prefer, skip the papers and spray the pan with baking spray.

In a small pan, melt butter over low heat, and continue cooking until it browns, stirring as needed. Watch it carefully - it goes from brown to burned quickly. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool while you assemble the rest.

Combine the flour, sugar and baking powder in a small bowl, and whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and milk together, then add the melted butter.

Add the dry mixture and the cranberry sauce to the wet, and fold together, just until it is combined and the cranberries are well distributed. Portion the mixture into the muffin pan, filling about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the muffins bounce back when touched in the center, and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove muffins to a rack to cool.