January 28, 2013

Cherry Cream Cheese Muffins






Oh my, this is my new favorite muffin!!!  I was so thrilled to snag a couple of bags of frozen tart cherries when I passed through Traverse City last summer.  The poor cherry farmers suffered a great loss in 2012, so I'm not sure if these were shipped in or were from the previous year, but they were a treasure to me nonetheless.  'Just waiting for the perfect recipe!  These were scrumptious, with the delightful flavor of tart cherries and almond.  Even my husband, who does not like cherries, enjoyed them!  

Topping:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Muffins:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
8 ounces (1 block) cream cheese, room temperature,
cut into cubes
2-1/2 cups tart cherries, fresh or frozen

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 425 degrees.  Lightly coat muffin pans with cooking spray.  (This will make 18 muffins.)  Combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping and set aside.  For the muffins, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon.  In a medium bowl with electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy.  Add the eggs, milk, and almond extract; beat until thick.  Add butter mixture to dry ingredients and fold until the batter comes together.  Gently fold in the cream cheese, then the cherries, until just combined.  Fill muffin cups at least 3/4 full and sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  If you don't have a convection oven, rotate pans halfway through the baking time.  Cool on a wire rack.

Note:  Anytime I see a recipe calling for more than 1 stick of butter, I can't help but cut it back and add the difference in plain low fat yogurt.  (So, for this recipe, I used 1/2 cup butter, then folded in 1/4 cup yogurt.)  I also used low fat milk in these, along with reduced fat cream cheese.  I'm not kidding you, they were excellent!  The lower fat version also drops them from 285 calories each to 216 calories, and the fat went from 14 grams each to just 6.4 grams.



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