Mulled Cider Muffins

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Ahh, fall…

My favorite time of year has finally arrived, and I’m ready to make the most of this all-too-fleeting season. For many, taking full advantage of autumn means apple picking, hay rides and drinking an exceedingly unhealthy amount of pumpkin spice lattes. And, don’t get me wrong, I intend to do all of those things. But, for me, fall is all about the food.

This season is bursting with nature’s best – from picturesque landscapes to heartwarming ingredients. And I plan to enjoy it all to the fullest.

Today, that means making mulled apple cider muffins. Yum.

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For the muffins:

Adapted from Yankee Magazine

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 sliced citrus fruit (orange, tangerine or whatever you have on hand – I used a clementine)
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Additional butter, ground cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling

Yield: 12 muffins

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This recipe is all about reducing the cider. As the liquid mulls and boils down, the tangy-sweet deliciousness becomes more concentrated, delivering a punch of fall flavor.

To start, preheat the oven to 425°F. Place cider, citrus slices, cinnamon sticks and spices in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Let the liquid continue to boil for 20 minutes, or until about half the cider remains.

In the mean time, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Cream the butter, sugar and applesauce with an electric mixer until completely combined (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla extract, and beat until smooth.

Then, remove the cider from heat, and pour it through a fine mesh strainer. Pour about 1/3 of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, and gently fold it in until just combined. Add half the cider to the batter; stir to combine. Alternate adding the flour mixture and cider to the bowl, being careful not to over mix. Do not fear a lumpy muffin batter – over mixing leads to snacking on hockey pucks. Consider yourself warned.

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Line a muffin tin with baking cups, and fill them 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for 10 minutes or until a nice dome has risen on each muffin. Then, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for another 5 minutes. Immediately after removing the muffins from the oven, brush tops with butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

These are best served warm (read: don’t even think about eating these at room temperature) with a cup of hot cider. Or tea. Or a pumpkin spice latte. These are pretty much the perfect companion to any autumnal drink, so fill a mug with your fall favorite and enjoy.

Happy fall, y’all.

 

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