Yes, I know it’s a little late for Christmas recipe posts. I know that the presents have been given (and maybe exchanged), the leftovers have been eaten, the tree taken down, and the decorations packed up until next year. But, you can relive the lusciousness of Christmas morning whenever you make these muffins!
I made these muffins a few weeks before Christmas, and I said to myself, “Self, these are Christmas morning worthy muffins.” And so they are. They’ve been vetted by my family, who didn’t wait until the scrambled eggs were cooked to dig into them. Pretty soon we were all gathered around the kitchen island, mimosas temporarily forgotten, with muffin crumbs on our lips. Yes, they’re that good!
Now, I do admit that the recipe is a bit fussy. And that it relies heavily on a food processor. And that it isn’t the fastest muffin recipe you could whip up for a spur-of-the-moment breakfast. But trust me; its worth it.
These muffins are so full of cranberries that they are jewel like when you break one open to butter. The nuttiness of the ground pecans adds an amazing depth of flavor. The pecans in the streusel topping add just the right amount of crunch. These are a special occasion muffin if there ever was one!
Cranberry Pecan Muffins
makes 12-16 muffins, depending on how full you fill the cups
adapted (very slightly) from Cook’s Illustrated
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp packed light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, softened
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt, divided
- 1 1/4 cups pecan halves, toasted and cooled
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/2 cup whole milk (half and half works find too, if that’s what you’ve got!)
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and line a 12-cup muffin tin with papers. (Have a few extra papers and another tin standing by if you decide to stretch the recipe, or that 12 make the tins too full. I ended up with 15 the first time I made these. The second time, I made 12 and the streusel didn’t stick as well.) Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position in the oven.
For the Streusel
In the food processor, combine flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, and salt. 4 or 5 pulses should do it; the mixture should resemble coarse sand. Add the pecans and process until they’re coarsely chopped. Put the mixture in a small bowl and set aside until needed. (No need to clean the food processor bowl; you’ll just get it dirty again.)
For the Muffins
Whisk together flour, baking powder 3/4 tsp. salt. Set aside.
Process toasted pecans and granulated sugar for 10-15 seconds, until the pecans are ground and the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add pecan/sugar mixture to a large bowl and whisk in eggs, butter and milk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and whisk until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Set aside for 30 minutes. (The batter will thicken.)
In the food processor, pulse the cranberries, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, and confectioners sugar until coarsely chopped, 4 or 5 pulses should do it. Gently fold the cranberries into the rested batter.
Scoop batter into the prepared muffin tins, and sprinkle the streusel topping over them. Press the streusel lightly into the batter so it’ll stick.
Bake for 17 to 18 minutes (I told you this was fussy, didn’t I?) or until the muffin tops are golden and just firm. If you’re baking them in two tins, be sure that they are both on the upper rack of the oven, so as not to burn the bottom ones. Cool muffins for 10 minutes on a wire rack, IN the tins! After 10 minutes, remove from the tins and cool at least another 10 minutes before serving.
Eat the first one standing over the counter before the rest of breakfast is ready. I give you permission.