Monday, August 28, 2017

Overstuffed Blueberry Muffins with Sugary Tops

Emma has a history of being benevolent towards God's creature and a penchant for rescuing them from certain death. A star example of this is her rescue of the frog from the clutches of a hungry snake while on a hike last summer. She had the opportunity to rescue a few more pathetic creatures this summer only this time they were baby mice on the verge of being disposed of by her father.

Paul and I had been doing some chores in the backyard when we noticed several baby mice scattered throughout the lawn. They were extremely tiny and docile, not even attempting to flee when we came close by. Paul, harboring a fairly substantial vendetta against rodents due to the numerous tunneling by moles throughout our lawn, immediately announced that he was going to drown the baby mice and headed to the garage in search of a bucket. I balked at the idea as did Emma who had come outside to see what we were looking out. She immediately found the mice so cute and begged for Paul to spare them. I joined her, urging Paul to trap them and release them in the woods not too far from our home. Paul, who was certainly not looking forward to killing them, agreed to the idea. He scooped up the mice into the bucket and then he and Emma headed off to the woods to find the baby mice a new home.

They found a spot that Emma thought suitable for the mice and then set the bucket on its side. Emma watched the mice slowly make their way out and began talking to them about how much they were going to like their new home. The mice didn't seem too interested in exploring their new digs and just continued to sit there sniffing the air and Paul began to grow impatient. He urged Emma to say goodbye so they could leave. She started to follow him back to the car but then asked, "Daddy, can I go say one last goodbye to the baby mice?" Paul agreed and Emma went running back to where they had left the mice.

Only she sort of forgot where they were and accidentally trampled them during her search.

Paul found her staring confusedly at the ground and came over to find that she had somehow managed to squish every single one. Fortuitously, Emma did not seem to notice what had happened and thought the mice were all sleeping. The reality would have saddened her, so Paul agreed that the mice were "just getting some rest before finding their new home." As she headed back to the car, Emma was already making plans to visit the mice at some point in the future.

When they got home, Paul whispered what had happened to me and concluded with, "Well, I guess that permanently solves the problem."

Emma would be so heartbroken if she truly knew what happened!

These blueberry muffins are guaranteed to be a bit more successful than Emma's rodent rescue attempt. I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website. I stumbled across it really because I was not really in search of a new blueberry muffin recipe because I like the one that I have been using for years just fine. However, the amount of blueberries called for in the recipe as well as the promise for a crunchy, sugary top made me convinced to run to the kitchen and bake up a batch. I had just been back to the blueberry patch for one last visit before the season ends to gather my favorite variety of all - the sweetest, tiniest blueberries of the season! Unfortunately their tiny nature make them much more tedious to pick and gather but they are the absolute perfect size for muffins, scones, and buckle. Leave the giant berries for cobblers and pancakes!

But back to the recipe. The recipe for these muffins comes from the Boston-based department store Jordan's whose doors were shuttered after being bought out by Macy's. They used to be famous for their large blueberry muffins which they served in their dining room on the top floor of the store. I had never heard of them and was thus completely unaware of their reputation for baking up delicious blueberry muffins but after having made their recipe I completely understand why. These muffins are delicious. I love how every bite is absolutely bursting with blueberry flavor. The crunchy, sugary tops are also highly addictive. At first I was a little unsure about scattering an entire teaspoon of sugar atop each and every muffin but after having eaten approximately half a dozen of these muffins I beg and plead for you not to skip it. That bit of sugar makes these muffins sparkle and shine - literally and figuratively.

And yes, I used Halloween-themed cupcake liners because that's all I had - NOT because I'm looking forward to Halloween. Heck no. I never make cupcakes and muffins without liners because they always stick no matter how much I grease the cups.

Make these before the blueberries disappear!

Overstuffed Blueberry Muffins with Sugary Tops
from King Arthur Flour

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh preferred
1/4 cup sugar, for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin; or line the tin with papers, and grease the papers.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beating gently just to combine. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Mash 1/2 cup of the blueberries. Add the mashed and whole berries to the batter, stirring just to combine and distribute.

Scoop the batter by the heaping 1/4-cupful into the prepared muffin pan.

Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon granulated sugar atop each muffin, if desired.

Bake the muffins for about 30 minutes, until they're light golden brown on top, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.

Remove the muffins from the oven, loosen their edges from the pan, and after about 5 minutes transfer them to a rack to cool.

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