Ultimate Blueberry Muffins With Lemon Sugar Crunch

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I guess it’s lemon season? Good thing because I’ve been getting sick often these days and nothing soothes a sore throat than a piping hot cup of water with a squeeze of lemon. Not only does lemon seem to work miracles on one who’s sick, but it makes amazing baked goods, such as this blueberry muffin recipe I came across from Cook’s Illustrated. What stood out about this recipe was that the actual ingredient of lemon wasn’t included in the batter, but was a part of a sugar crumb sprinkled on top of the muffin at the last second before baking.

These muffins have the perfect amount of sweetness from the blueberry “syrup” and remind me of a summer day from the brightness of the lemon. These are AMAZING right out of the oven while the sugar crunch is still warm and crispy. I’ve thrown all other blueberry muffins into the very back of the archives (sorry, blueberry muffins).

Seriously, look at that crunchy topping.

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Ultimate Blueberry Muffins With Lemon Sugar Crunch
Yield: 12 muffins

Sugar Crunch:

1/3 C. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest or zest from 1 lemon

Blueberry syrup:
1 tsp. sugar
1 C. fresh blueberries

Muffins:
2 1/2 C. all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/8 C. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 C. canola oil
1 C. buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 C. fresh blueberries

1. For the sugar crunch, combine sugar and lemon zest and mix to combine. Set aside and let sit so that the sugar absorbs the lemon flavor.

2. For the blueberry syrup, combine sugar and blueberries in a small pot and heat over medium heat. Stir frequently. As the blueberries heat up, they’ll start to plump up. Start smashing the blueberries to create a syrup. Turn the heat on low and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the mixture reduces to about 1/4 cup. Turn the heat off and set aside.

To make the muffins:

3. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners.
4. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Mix to combine and set aside.
5. In another large bowl, beat sugar and eggs together until the mixture turns pale yellow – about 3 minutes.
6. To the sugar and egg mixture, stir in melted butter and oil. Next, add the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Mix to combine.
7. Now, add the wet mixture into the bowl with the dry mixture and mix until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX.
8. Fold in blueberries with a rubber spatula.
9. Divide the muffin batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups.
10. For each cup, spoon about a teaspoon of the blueberry syrup onto the top and use a toothpick to swirl the syrup in with the muffin batter.
11. Next, evenly divide the lemon sugar mixture onto the top of the muffins.
12. Bake in the oven for 16-19 minutes, turning the pan 180 degrees once.
13. Poke a clean toothpick into the middle of a muffin. When the toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are fully baked.
14. Remove the muffins from the oven and set on a cooling rack to cool. Wait about 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin.
15. ENJOY!

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Earl Grey Lemon Shortbreads

Although the chilly winter air is still lingering in San Francisco, citrus has been making their comeback on store shelves. I walked into the grocery store the other day and instead of seeing only lemons and limes, I saw an array of different citruses. This makes me happy because I get reminded that summer fruits are quickly approaching! For now, the parade of citrus before my eyes was good enough for me. I couldn’t help myself so I picked up a bag each of lemons, limes, oranges, grapefuits, and blood oranges. I figured I’d figure out what to do with them when the time comes.

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For now, let’s tackle the lemons. Since it’s been so cold lately, lemons make me think of holding a huge mug of tea and a squeeze of lemon with my hands tucked into my sleeves. What tea goes best with the flavor of lemon? Earl Grey of course!! Funny, because I used to deteste earl grey…. until I found out how to drink it. I used to work for Starbucks and had prepared many cups of earl grey tea. Every time I pulled the tea bag out of its wrapper and poured hot water over it, I would smell the delicious floral scent it gave off. One day, I finally decided I was going to try it. I dunked the tea bag in hot water and let it steep for a few minutes then excitedly reached in for my first sip when it was cool enough. I spat it out. Never tried it again.

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Months later, a new drink was on the menu – London Fog. It was made using earl grey tea. YUCK. At least that’s what I thought until I took a sip of my coworkers drink not knowing what it was. It was soooo delicious and I’ve been hooked ever since. Ladies and gents, don’t drink your earl grey tea, black. Make sure to add some milk and a tad bit of sugar!

What other way to transition winter thoughts of lemon and tea into spring? By making light, floral, lemony, and buttery shortbreads! The smell of these in the oven is AMAZING!! My mouth was watering as I was sitting in the livingroom waiting for these babies to finish baking. I kinda wanted to jump into the oven and sit next to them.

P.S. These are the easiest cookies I’ve ever made in MY LIFE!!!!

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Lemon Earl Grey Shortbreads

*2 light cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. earl grey leaves
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 C. confectioners sugar
1 C. butter

*spoon flour into your measuring cup without pushing any of the flour down. When the measuring cup is full, Use a straight-edge to push the excess flour off.

Put flour, tea leaves, and salt into a food processor. Process until the tea leaves look like small specks in the flour.

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Next, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, confectioners sugar, and butter into the processor and pulse until the dough comes together. When the dough pulls away from the walls of the food processor, the dough is ready.

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Pour the dough onto parchment paper or a surface lightly covered with confectioners sugar and roll into a log (I tried to make a square and failed miserably). Roll in seran wrap or parchment paper, sealing the ends and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

When the dough has hardened, preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

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Take the dough out of the wrapper and slice into about half inch slices. Place on cookie sheet about an inch apart and back for 12 minutes or until the bottom becomes slightly golden.

Let the cookies sit for about 2 minutes then transfer onto a cooling rack.

Last step-nom nom nom like Cookie Monster!

Lemon Squares with Shortbread Crust

Do you like all things buttery?  Do you like all things sweet?  How about that tang that hits the back of your mouth and makes your eyes get a little smaller?  If you answered yes to all…. I introduce to you these lemon squares!  The crust is made from a whole cup of butter and layered with sweet lemon-ey goodness.  If you love lemons, I PROMISE that you will not be disappointed!  Mama didn’t raise no promise breaker!

My mom started making these probably before I was born or maybe a little after.  Doesn’t matter, it’s still at least a good whopping twenty years since she started making these  decandent things.  I tried making these lemon squares five years ago-they sucked.  Now that I actually know what “frothy” means, I’ve got it down!  The secret to this recipe is beating your eggyolks past the point of no return.  Making the eggs frothy not only makes the texture  light and moist, but also adds volume to the entire mixture, otherwise there won’t be enough lemon curd to pour over the crust.  Look at that moist filling!  Yeah.. make sure to make your eggs really frothy…

An intern at the office is going back to France and has been asking for some baked goods.  It’s a little intimidating knowing that there’s delicious pastries on almost every corner where he’s from!  I don’t have any doubt about these though.  They’re quite simple to make and don’t take much effort.  The frothy eggyolks combined with the sugar forms a thin flakey topping, sorta what brownie lovers look for on their brownies and the sweet and tangy lemon curd on top tastes bombtastic with the light, buttery, crispy, crust.

I have no idea where my mom got this recipe from, but…. I got it from my mama!  Here you go:

After you’ve created the crust, it should look something like this.  I lined my pan with foil so it would protect the pan a little when people cut themselves a piece, but this step is totally unnecessary.

When beating your eggs, you’ll want to beat them for a good five minutes.  Since this recipe is so easy, I used my handmixer to beat the eggs, but you can also use your standmixer with the whisk attachment.  As your eggs become frothy, large bubbles will appear.

Keep beating the eggs until the most of large bubbles have disappeared and look something like this.

Turn your beater off and add the rest of the ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.

Pour your mixture into the baked crust….

I find that after cooling, putting the entire pan into the refrigerator overnight helps make cutting easier.  Serve cold and prepare a lot of “mmmmmm….. can I have the recipe? …MMMmmmmmm”