Sunday, October 7, 2012

B-B-B-Butter (and the blueberry)

I am a perfectionist.

I like it when it rains (and snows).  I like precipitation.

All my socks need to match, but my belt and shoes do not.

I refuse to leave the house without that concealer and mascara already on.  Not sorry.

I like butter.  (duh)

I've got this list that could go on and on, but I felt like we should be up front about just a few of those truths.  What are your truths?  Do you need spinach in your smoothie?  Do you have to wash your hands every five minutes of the day?  When someone drops litter on the floor, do you run to pick it up?  Yeah.  We all have our things, don't we?

A big truth of mine is this whole "baking thing".   I have to do it.  I get the itch.  I see my recipe books every morning and I feel the urge to bake the first thing I flip to.  Each time I bake I'm bringing to life a new buttery, pillowy entity.  That's weird.  That's totally weird.  I'm weirded out for you.  But you get it.

Let's take these muffins, k?  The name alone was like a siren song and I just careened into the rocks the moment it came into my peripheral.  Let's say this together:  Brownbutter Blueberry Muffins.  It's like no other blueberry muffin you have had or ever will (unless you make them and eat them, of course).

When you brown butter, magic happens. Once you get past the frothing and popping, the butter starts to get... nutty.  The color deepens to a chestnut brown, and the smell... the smell!  It's all sweet and nutty andohmygod getitoffthestoveasap!!  Browning butter is not something you can multitask.  It needs your attention, or you will end up with... well let's just say you'll end up sad.  Just as it starts to turn brown, take it off the heat and pour it into a small vessel.  Let it mellow out.  And think about how good it smells in your house now.  Forget air fresheners.  Just brown butter.

Of course, these muffins would not be complete without the essential blueberry component.  Let's not be shy with blueberries.  Be abundant with your berries, and remember to dust them with flour.  Flour keeps them from sinking, and nothing is less sexy when it comes to muffins than a huge clump of lumpy berries at the bottom. Nothing.  So dust 'em, and dust 'em well.

Wait... no cute muffin on a plate?  Where's the finished product?  Why can't I see the inside of the beautiful siren-muffin delicately balanced on a plate with a vintage fork??  Yeah... because I ate them in the middle of the night, and then brought them to work where the lighting is... not natural.  You'll just have to bake them for yourselves and see them in all their glory in person.  And then inhale them.

True fact:  I make muffins into a meal.  It's a B/L/D (breakfast/lunch/dinner) kind of thing.

Brownbutter Blueberry Muffins
From the Joy the Baker Cookbook 

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries (two pints), rinsed, dried, and lightly dusted in flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons raw sugar, or granulated sugar

*place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.  line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside*

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat, swirling every once in awhile.  Keep a sharp eye on the butter - the butter will start to foam (getting to the right temperature), and then start to pop and crackle (the water cooking out of the butter).  After the crackling subsides, the butter will quickly begin to brown quickly.  Remove the pan when the color starts to turn to a warm chestnut color and pour directly into a small, heat-proof bowl.  This will stop the cooking process.  Let come to room temperature.

Whisk the milk, egg and yolk, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl.  Add the cooled browned butter and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the milk mixture to the dry mixture all at once, and mix gently until the flour disappears.  Do not over mix.  Fold in the blueberries.  Divide the batter evenly between the muffin liners and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the cold butter, flour, and sugar.  Rub the butter into the flour and sugar with your fingers (or a fork) until crumbly.  Divide the mixture between the unbaked muffin batter.

Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until golden and crisp and a skewer inserted into the middle of one comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Muffins can be stored for up to three days in an airtight container at room temperature.