Saturday, February 20, 2010
We live in a cute little chocolate house. There’s a cute little vanilla house next door. We never got to know our neighbors very well because the owner was a military man, and he was sent overseas. By some unusual coincidence, his wife and child were from Uzbekistan, which is where I was born. I was pretty excited to have a neighbor I could speak Russian with, but to my disappointment, they stayed in Uzbekistan while he was away. When they all finally seemed to settle into the vanilla house, he found out that the military was moving him to a different base, and the vanilla house went up for sale. So things have been pretty quiet over at the cute little vanilla house most of the last few years.
But I’m really happy because we finally have new neighbors! They seem like good, friendly people. They moved here from Texas, which is where we came from. So I guess that means we can speak Texan with them…which, if you’re wondering, means talk barbeque. Anyway, I wanted to welcome them to the neighborhood. So I baked them a little housewarming gift. I hope they like it!
Hazelnut, Spice & Brown Butter Muffins
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
Nonstick pan spray, optional
3 ounces hazelnuts
2 ½ ounces sugar
2 ½ ounces light brown sugar
8 ounces all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
8 ounces milk, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the butter and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until browned. Transfer the butter to a medium bowl and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick pan spray or line with paper liners. Combine the hazelnuts, sugar, and brown sugar in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and hazelnut mixture in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs, milk, and vanilla into the butter. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until the edges of the muffins start to shrink away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack and finish cooling completely.
Makes 1 dozen muffins. The brown butter should be cooled but still melted when you mix the muffin batter.