Cranberry Orange Muffins with Almond Topping

These flavorful Cranberry Orange Muffins will keep you in the spirit of the Holidays between the Holidays. They can be served as a part of your Christmas Day breakfast.Cranberry Orange Muffins on a red plate with almond flakes

Fresh cranberries available this time of year mean holidays for many people. There is hardly a Thanksgiving dinner without cranberry sauce, relish or stuffing with cranberries. Pork roast, often made for Christmas Day dinner, can be served with cranberry-mint relish or cranberry-apple sauce. Last year’s November issue of Food Network magazine came with a brochure “50 things to make with cranberries” and it offers some great ideas. It has the obvious recipes for chutney, sauce or scones as well as less known ones for pickled cranberries, ketchup or cornbread. I plan to make a few of these recipes before the cranberry season is over. This bright red jewel delivers not only a pop of color but also lots of vitamin C and antioxidants, which makes cranberries almost as powerful as blueberries are.

Today’s recipe combines tart cranberries, flavorful orange zest and sliced almonds for a crunch. Cranberries and oranges are a perfect pairing. The muffins are juicy, sweet with a rich crumb. When baking other muffins I like to use some ground flaxseeds and almond meal for nutritional value and texture in the muffin batter.  cranberries, oranges, and almond flakesWhile reading about cranberries for this post I came across some interesting facts. Cranberries grow in bogs and float in water for easy harvest. If you have ever seen a cranberry juice commercial with two guys standing in a deep water, now you know why. It also appears that cranberries exposed to more sunlight (when floating in the water) become more red  and produce more nutrients important to our health. Cranberries are considered a native American fruit, hence their presence on Thanksgiving table.

For my other favorite muffins I like to use melted coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. In this recipe I used melted and cooled butter. Eggs and sugar were combined first, then butter and milk were whisked in. It makes the muffins more cake-like and better suited to hold lots of chopped cranberries. The batter will be rather thin at first, so it is important that you let it rest for about 30 minutes. The flour will absorb the moisture and thicken up.chopped cranberries

Here I used 1.5 cups of fresh cranberries that were processed slightly (about 3-4 pulses) in a food processor. I mixed the chopped cranberries with a pinch of salt and sugar before adding them to the batter.

Since I added almond meal  and orange zest to the batter I wanted to tie it together with the crumb topping. I did that by gently folding sliced almonds and more orange zest into the topping. This way the orange flavor is quite detectable.

cranberry orange muffins with almond topping before baking

Before heating up the oven, make sure you move the oven rack to the upper-middle position. Since the muffins bake at 425 degrees, it is better to keep them a bit farther from the source of heat so the sliced almonds won’t burn.

baked orange cranberry muffinCranberry muffins with orange zest and almond flakesMakes: 12 muffins            Prep time: 20 minutes                          Ready in: 1 hr. 20 min

Ingredients:

Almond Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • orange zest from 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Muffins:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided (3/4 and 1/4)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • orange zest from 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Almond Topping: using a food processor combine flour, sugar, butter and salt. Pulse 3-4 times until the mixture looks like a coarse sand. Transfer to a small bowl and gently stir in orange zest and sliced almonds. Set aside.
  2. Muffins: in a small bowl, mix together flour, almond meal, ground flaxseed, salt (3/4 teaspoon) and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together eggs and sugar until thickened, about 45 seconds. Pour in cooled butter and milk. Stir well. Whisk in flour mixture. Set aside.
  4. Using a food processor pulse together cranberries, 1/4 teaspoon salt, powdered sugar and orange zest. Add to the batter. Let it rest about 20-30 minutes until thickened.
  5. Move the oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the muffin pan ( spray with oil or use paper liners).
  6. Using an ice cream scoop fill up the muffin cups. If you prefer bigger muffins, fill the cups completely (you will have 10-11 muffins instead of 12). Divide the topping evenly.
  7. Bake for about 18 minutes and rotate the muffin pan halfway while baking. Make sure the sliced almonds aren’t turning brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

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