Posts Tagged ‘muffins’

Blueberry Muffins

First up in the 88th episode of Good Eats are blueberry muffins. Blueberry muffins were something we ate a lot growing up. My mom would make a batch of blueberry muffins, giving them to us for breakfast before school. She would take day-old muffins, split them in half, butter them, and place them under the broiler until the butter had melted and the muffin edges were slightly crispy. Gosh, they were good. I really should make blueberry muffins more often.

Alton’s recipe begins with preheating the oven to 380 degrees. While the oven preheats, combine 1 C plain yogurt, 1/2 C vegetable oil, 1 C sugar, and 1 egg in a bowl, whisking to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together 12 1/2 ounces cake flour, a pinch of Kosher salt, 2 t baking powder, and 1 t baking soda.

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Wet and dry muffin mixtures.

For his muffins, Alton recommends using fresh blueberries when possible, but if you must use frozen berries, do not thaw them before adding them to your batter. Either way, toss 1 1/2 C blueberries with 1 T of your dry ingredient mixture; this will serve to keep the berries from sinking to the bottom of your muffins.

Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients, mixing with a spatula for a long count of 10.

Add your berries, reserving 1/2 C for later. Mix the berries into the batter, but only for a count of three, as you do not want to over-mix the batter.

Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray and use a #20 ice cream scoop to dispense batter into each cup; a #20 scoop is equal to 0.2 C, so I used a ladle that was about this size.

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Sprayed muffin cups filled with batter.

Remember those reserved berries? Sprinkle them onto the tops of the muffins, lightly pressing them into the batter.

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Reserved berries sprinkled over muffins.

Place your muffins in your preheated oven, but increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Alton explained in the episode that increasing the oven temperature when you place the muffins in the oven gives a guaranteed burst of heat, which will help to ensure a good rise. Bake the muffins for 12 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake them for an additional 8-13 minutes. The muffins are done when they are golden brown and they pass the toothpick test.

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Muffins, straight out of the oven.

Flip your muffins onto a tea towel, letting them cool upside down.

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Muffins, inverted onto a tea towel to cool.

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Blueberry muffins, split, buttered, and broiled.

I had to test one of the muffins while it was still warm, splitting and buttering it. These blueberry muffins are outstanding. Not only are they littered with blueberries, but their flavor and texture is spot-on too. The yogurt in the muffin batter gives the muffins a faint tartness, so they are not overly sweet, and they are tender on the inside while being slightly crispy and golden on the outside. Good stuff. This blueberry muffin recipe is hard to beat.

English Muffins

It was probably about 15 years ago when I first saw this episode of Good Eats. I remember being super intrigued by Alton’s English muffin recipe, deciding to try it for myself. At the time, I was at my parents’ house, and all I can remember is that my English muffins were ugly… really ugly. They tasted fine, but they were hideous, and I never tried them again – until now.

To make English muffins, dissolve 1/8 t sugar in 1/3 C warm water. Sprinkle on 1 package of yeast, and set the bowl aside for about five minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the wet ingredients:  1 C very hot water, 1 T shortening, 1 T sugar, 1/2 t salt, and 1/2 C milk powder.

Add the yeast mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring to combine.

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Yeast added to wet ingredients.

Place 2 C of sifted flour in a bowl, making a well in the center, and pour in the wet ingredients.

Stir the dough with a wooden spoon until it comes together. Set the dough aside for 30 minutes.

Alton used an electric griddle to cook his English muffins. We do not have an electric griddle per se, but we do have a Panini press that has smooth plates. You want your cooking surface to heat to 300 degrees (an infrared thermometer is helpful for checking this, especially if you don’t have a griddle).

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Griddle, preheated to 300 degrees.

Now, you will need some metal rings to serve as molds for your English muffins, and Alton used four tuna cans from which he had removed the tops and bottoms. I, however, discovered that tuna cans no longer seem to have removable bottoms; unfortunately, I did not come to this realization until I had purchased and opened four cans of tuna. Oops! I wound up purchasing a set of four rings on Amazon, which were not expensive. Once your cooking surface has sufficiently preheated, place your rings on the griddle, spraying them lightly with non-stick spray.

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Rings placed on preheated grill and sprayed with non-stick spray.

Using a #20 scoop, place two scoops of dough into each ring. I used a ladle that was approximately 1/4 C in size.

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English muffin batter added to rings.

Place a sheet pan on top of the rings and let the muffins cook for five minutes.

Using tongs, flip the rings, place the sheet pan on top again, and let the muffins cook on their second sides for five more minutes.

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Flipped muffins after five minutes.

Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool.

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Finished English muffins, cooling on wire rack.

I was pretty happy with how my English muffins turned out, as they at least looked like English muffins this time around. They had the “nooks and crannies” in them that really make an English muffin an English muffin, along with a slightly yeasty flavor.

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English muffin, toasted and buttered.

They toasted up nicely, and were a perfect breakfast with a pat of butter. Next time around, I will have to plan ahead and use the muffins to make eggs Benedict. Alton’s recipe shows that English muffins are surprisingly easy to make, and they’re pretty tasty too.IMG_4683

Chocolate Mousse

Because I am human, I could not help but be excited for the recipes in the 13th Good Eats episode. I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate? The first recipe Alton conquers in the episode is his Chocolate Mousse. With a short prep time, and only six ingredients, this is a dessert that is fit to be made anytime. You start by combining semi-sweet chocolate chips, a pinch of Kosher salt (guess this makes it seven ingredients), espresso, dark rum, and butter in a double boiler.

Chocolate chips, butter, salt, espresso, and rum.

Chocolate chips, butter, salt, espresso, and rum.

While the chocolate is melting, you measure 1 1/2 C of heavy cream in a liquid measuring cup, pouring a couple of ounces of this into a metal measuring cup. Note:  The online recipe calls for a total of 1 3/4 C of cream, while Alton uses a total of 1 1/2 C in the episode. I went with the 1 1/2 C of cream, per the episode.

Heavy cream.

Heavy cream.

You want to keep the cream in the liquid measuring cup chilled. To the cream in the metal measuring cup, you add some gelatin, and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Gelatin.

Gelatin.

Gelatin bloomin in some of the cream.

Gelatin blooming in some of the cream.

By this time, your chocolate mixture should be melted, and you want to remove it from the heat.

Melted chocolate mixture.

Melted chocolate mixture.

While your chocolate cools, you beat your cream in a chilled metal mixing bowl, using a chilled beater. You should beat your cream until you have medium peaks.

Chilled mixing bowl and beater.

Chilled mixing bowl and beater.

Heavy cream, ready to be whipped into submission... or medium peaks.

Heavy cream, ready to be whipped into submission… or medium peaks.

A taste of the cream for "helper" #1.

A taste of the cream for “helper” #1.

And a taste for "helper" #2.

And a taste for “helper” #2.

The gelatin/cream mixture gets heated over a gas burner or a candle until all of the gelatin granules are gone. You do not want to boil this liquid. Once the gelatin is dissolved, you add the cream/gelatin to the chocolate mixture, stirring to combine.

Heating the gelatin/cream mixture over a candle.

Heating the gelatin/cream mixture over a candle.

Adding the gelatin mixture to the chocolate.

Adding the gelatin mixture to the chocolate.

Now it is time to combine the chocolate with the whipped cream, but you want to do this gradually and gently, beginning by stirring 1/4 of the cream into the chocolate. Then you will gently fold the remaining cream into the chocolate in two additions.

Side by side bowls of goodness, ready to be combined to make even greater goodness.

Side by side bowls of goodness, ready to be combined to make even greater goodness.

Stirring in about 1/4 of the whipped cream.

Stirring in about 1/4 of the whipped cream.

Alton stresses that it is okay to have streaks in your mousse. The important thing is to gently fold the cream into the chocolate, so as not to remove the air from the cream. I definitely had some streaks in my mousse.

The final product, after folding in the remaining whipped cream.

The final product, after folding in the remaining whipped cream.

You gently spoon the mousse into individual serving cups and refrigerate it for an hour before covering the cups with plastic wrap.

Yum. Chocolate mousse.

Yum. Chocolate mousse.

I made my mousse several hours in advance and we ate it for dessert three days in a row. I also shared some mousse with my parents. We all thought this mousse was delicious. It was light and fluffy, and mine had tiny bits of chocolate throughout, which I’m sure were not supposed to be there, but were actually a nice touch! The mousse was very rich without being heavy. There was a hint of rum in my mousse, but the espresso flavor was really not discernible. This is a recipe I will be making again because it is easy, fast, and delicious, and because my mom has already requested it!

Chocolate Lava Muffins

I will confess that I have made Alton’s Chocolate Lava Muffins a few times in years past, so this was not a new recipe to me. I still watched him prepare the recipe on the episode to ensure that I completed the recipe as prepared in the episode. When I made these in the past, I followed the online recipe, and as we know, there are usually differences between the online and episode recipes.

You start by melting chocolate chips with butter and vanilla extract.The online recipe calls for 1/2 t of vanilla, while Alton uses 1 t in the episode.

Melting chocolate chips with butter and vanilla.

Melting chocolate chips with butter and vanilla.

Once melted, you beat the chocolate mixture. I used my handheld mixer, which was given to me by my grandma about 15 years ago (she became quite the QVC shopper in her later years). It sometimes gets warm and emits a funky electrical smell, but it’s still ticking, and I use it occasionally.

The melted chocolate mixture.

The melted chocolate mixture.

One by one, you beat in four eggs, until incorporated.

Beating in the eggs, one at a time.

Beating in the eggs, one at a time.

Then you sift in your dry ingredients (Alton uses 4 T of flour in the episode, rather than the 3 T in the online recipe), and beat the mixture for at least 5 minutes (that electrical smell was present after that!) until the batter is light and smooth.

Sugar, flour, and salt.

Sugar, flour, and salt.

Adding the sifted dry ingredients to the chocolate.

Adding the sifted dry ingredients to the chocolate.

The completed batter, after beating for over 5 minutes.

The completed batter, after beating for over 5 minutes.

You chill the mixture to let it set a little bit. How long? This is not specified in either the episode or the online recipe. I chilled my batter for about 20 minutes. While the mixture chills, you can grease your muffin tin, and coat the cups with some cocoa powder.

Muffin tin, greased and dusted with cocoa powder.

Muffin tin, greased and dusted with cocoa powder.

Alton then tells you to use a 4-ounce scoop for each muffin. I used a ladle (not sure what size), and simply filled my muffin cups until they were about 2/3 full. This filled all 12 of my cups, while many reviewers on the Food Network site said they ended up with 8 or 9 muffins.

Batter in the muffin cups.

Batter in the muffin cups.

Once your cups are full, you stick the muffins in the oven and bake them for about 10 minutes, or until the sides are set and the centers are still jiggly. I checked my muffins at 9 minutes, but they were not quite done. Ten minutes was perfect for my muffins.

Baked lava muffins.

Baked lava muffins.

The baked muffins.

The baked muffins.

To serve the muffins, Alton makes a sauce by melting vanilla ice cream with espresso powder, and pours this over the top.

Melting vanilla ice cream with espresso powder.

Melting vanilla ice cream with espresso powder.

The completed sauce.

The completed sauce.

Lava muffin with sauce.

Lava muffin with sauce.

I have now made these muffins at least three times, so I guess that tells you that I like them. They kind of look like little chocolate hockey pucks. Perhaps filling the muffin cups a bit more results in more of a typical muffin shape, but I actually like the small size of these. They are very dense and rich, with an almost-liquid center and cake-like edges. I like them with the sauce, though I think they would maybe pair better with plain vanilla ice cream or barely sweetened whipped cream. The combo of the muffin with the sauce is just sweet on sweet. The muffins keep nicely for a couple of days, and while you can serve them warm, I think they are great at room temperature also.

With that, I complete Season 1 of Alton’s recipes on Good Eats.