Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pralines and Cream Pecan Caramel Muffins

Pralines and Cream Pecan Caramel Muffins - made March 9, 2010 from A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

When I first read this recipe, it had a dream-like quality of ingredient combinations. You fill the muffin tins half full with the muffin batter, add a squirt of butterscotch topping (in my case I used dulce de leche), cover with a cream cheese batter and top with a brown sugar butterscotch pecan streusel. Yum.

Their appearance isn’t exactly magazine-cover worthy. I think the dulce de leche was too heavy, even though I only scooped a small amount to rest in the middle. It sank into the muffin batter, creating a “black hole” that was followed down by some of the cream cheese batter and definitely a lot of the streusel. That concentration of the streusel actually makes it almost too sweet so if you don’t have a sweet tooth, I’d advise making only half the streusel amount and sprinkling sparingly. Despite that though, these were delicious. The muffin part had a tender crumb, the cream cheese part wasn’t too overwhelming and I’m a sucker for the dulce de leche and the streusel. The recipe calls for filling large muffin tins but I used the regular size muffin tins and was able to make 21 muffins from it. I ran out of cream cheese batter for the last 3 muffins so consider that these would make a dozen and a half normal muffins. If I make these again, I wouldn’t fill the muffin cavities so much since this isn’t something you want to overflow and make a big muffin top of since the cream cheese part doesn’t rise that much. I might actually try them in the molten chocolate cake pan where I make my little basque cakes – they might come out a little prettier.

Lastly, I didn’t bake these as long as the recipe said. I think I had them in the oven 20 minutes max. They didn’t need to bake as long since I was making them in the regular muffin pan, not the large size ones.

Pecan Streusel Topping
1 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons white sugar
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons butterscotch or caramel chips, optional
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Cream Cheese Batter
6 ounces cream cheese
1 large egg
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Muffin Batter
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup very finely chopped pecans
12 squirts of butterscotch or caramel sundae topping, optional

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Arrange oven rack to middle third position. Line a 12-cup large muffin pan with paper liners and generously spray liners with nonstick cooking spray. Place pan on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
2. For Pecan Streusel Topping, in a food processor, grind nuts, both sugars and butterscotch chips, if desired, to make a fine meal. Add butter and pulse to blend. Put mixture into a mixing bowl. (This is a fine, gravelly streusel.)
3. Without cleaning food processor bowl, blend Cream Cheese Topping ingredients well and then spoon out into another bowl.
4. For Muffin Batter, blend butter with both sugars in food processor until well blended; then add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add buttermilk, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nuts and blend well, making sure no unblended sugar or butter is stuck in bottom of bowl.
5. Scoop some batter into each muffin cup, filling about half full. Squirt on some sundae topping. Spoon on some Cream Cheese Topping and then carefully add streusel.
6. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until muffins seem firm to the touch when gently pressed with fingertips. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

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