Cranberry Harvest Muffins

When I was in college, I never really ate breakfast. But nowadays, I can’t even leave the house until I munch on something, even if it’s something little. I have no idea when this change happened or why, but I think in general, I like it because I like breakfast foods. Honestly, how can anyone not like eggs and bacon and sausage?

However, most weekdays, I don’t really have time to make any sort of fancy eggy dishes before rushing off to work. So I like to make sure the house is stocked with a few easy and quick breakfast options. Muffins are great for this purpose – you spend a little time baking a batch on a weekend or weekday evening, let them cool for a bit, then throw them in a freezer bag. Then, whenever you feel the urge for a quick breakfast, you pop them in the microwave for a minute or so. Ding! And you’ve got a steamy-warm muffin, almost as if they just came out of the oven.

Since winter is not exactly the season of delicious fruits and we’re good little consumers who eat with the seasons, let’s turn to our favorite contessa, the Barefoot Contessa. On one of her shows, she gave a recipe for Harvest Muffins, loaded with tart cranberries and gooey dried figs. Mine’s basically the same, except I said no to hazelnuts and replaced them with almonds instead.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 extra-large eggs
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup medium-diced dried Calimyrna figs
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted and roughly crushed by hand
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the milk, eggs, and melted butter. Stir quickly just to combine. Don’t over-stir or your muffins will be tough!

Add in the rest of the ingredients (cranberries, figs, almonds, brown sugar, white sugar). Stir a few times to distribute everything but again, don’t overdo it.

Carefully spoon batter into the cups, filling each to the top (to give you yummy big-topped muffins). Bake for 20-25 min until browned on top. Test for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the centers of muffins – it should come out clean.

(Makes 18 muffins)

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