Thursday, March 17, 2011

Strawberry & Cream Muffins

Spring is this Sunday, March 20th and I am anxious to say good bye to Winter.  It's been cold, grey and wet in Seattle-yes I know, what else is new when you live in Seattle ?  I think just being able to say it's Spring takes some of the chill out of the air.  A chilly Spring day evokes thoughts of  bright yellow daffodils and  purple crocus in bloom with deep blue skies and huge puffy clouds. A chilly Winter day evokes thoughts  of dark skies and winds blowing and the ground brown and frozen .  So this Saturday, it's Winter and this Sunday, it's Spring. It's truly amazing the difference a day can make in our minds isn't it ?

I love Spring in Seattle-there are flowers everywhere. There's the the pale pink blossoms on the Japanese Plum trees,  the bright pink tulips, and the yellow and cream daffodils.  And don't forget the cherry pinks and lavender of the rhododendrons.  Walking around Seattle in the Springtime is like getting surprise presents. Every corner you turn has something else in bloom that surprises you and takes your breath away. 

I've been in a Spring state of mind and watching for the first rhubarb of the season and got distracted by the wonderful odor of strawberries at my local market.  Don't you just love that smell ?  I close my eyes and can taste that juicy sweet berry, then I start thinking of whipped cream and shortcake and before I know it I'm buying 2 pounds of gorgeous strawberries.  I love to eat them plain in all their beautiful sweetness. But these begged for something.  Then I remembered seeing some delicious strawberry muffins months ago on someone's blog.  When I Googled I found it-Jane's Sweets And Baking Journal.  She does such a beautiful blog and her photos are stunning. I used her recipe with just a few minor tweaks.  These combine the best of all worlds- a moist morning muffin with the hint of a cheesecake center .  One bite and you think you are eating strawberry shortcake.  I think these would be wonderful with any fruit but they are especially luscious with fresh juicy strawberries. 

What a perfect way to welcome Spring.

Strawberries & Cream Muffins
Adapted from Janes Sweets and Baking Journal ( make sure you visit her blog)
Makes about 12 to 14 regular size muffins, or about 6 jumbo muffins.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
2 large eggs
2 cups All purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh ripe strawberries chopped into very small pieces

Cream Cheese Filling
4 oz. cream cheese, very soft (don't use the fat free or light version)
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. of egg liquid (so beat one egg lightly and measaure off the 1 1/2 Tbsp)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Put paper liners in the cups of your muffin pan, or use nonstick baking spray
Cut up your berries into small pieces and set them aside.

In a small bowl, use a spoon to mix together the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. beaten egg, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract. Mix until almost all the lumps are gone. Set this aside (don't refrigerate it-you want the consistency of cheesecake batter).

Melt the butter slowly in a sauce pan on low heat. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and the milk into the butter, stirring to combine. Cool until the mixture is just warm, then whisk in the eggs.

In a large mixing bowl add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix it altogether with a whisk.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour all of the butter and milk mixture into the dry ingredients, blending gently just until combined. Don't overmix.

Using a portion scoop, fill each muffin cup 1/3 full.

Scatter  4-6 pieces, of strawberry on top of each one, gently and barely pressing the strawberries into the batter.

Using a  teaspoon, dab a generous teaspoonful or so of the cream cheese mixture on top of the berries.

On top of that, add on another tablespoon or two so of the muffin batter until the cream cheese portion is covered.

On top of that, add a few more pieces of strawberry. Push them in just slightly-you want them visible after baking.

Sprinkle the tops of the unbaked muffins very generously with coarse sugar.

Bake the muffins for about 15 to 18 minutes, until they're light golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. The middle of the cupcake should be kind of firm when lightly pressed with a finger. Check on the muffins early, and if they're browning too fast, lightly cover the pan with a sheet of foil.

Let the muffins cool in the pan, on a rack, for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove them from the pan to cool on the rack.

(The original recipe was created by Jane of Jane's Sweets)

These are still delicious the next day-pop them in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to refresh them and mmm yummy and warm.


How To Be Perfect said...

These sound really yummy, I've been baking with Strawberries too, hoping my spring bakes will bring on the spring weather. x

Elaine said...

You are definitely putting me in a Spring state of mind seeing these beautiful photos, Sandy. It is raining here today and it is cold and windy. My tulips haven't bloomed yet, so I hope this wind doesn't harm them before they have a chance to bloom. Your muffins look delightful and must be so delicious with the cream cheese filling. Have a lovely first day of Spring!

Shelley said...

Those muffins look delish! Spring comes early here in Central Texas- we're already up to the mid-80's during the day. Before we know it, summer with its blazing temps will be on us. I hope you get to enjoy a long period of lovely spring like weather!