I went a little nuts at farmer’s markets and at Trader’s Joe’s this past weekend. I couldn’t help it. Everything is so fresh and bright, and I love fruits and veggies. However, I’m terrible at using everything up from these produce binges before they start to spoil so I decided this time that I would just let the food inspire me. I was going to pick up whatever I felt like turning into something delicious. Since I’ve been craving fresh berries and fruit smoothies daily ever since the temperature started to creep up over 90 degrees, I decided I couldn’t pass up the chance to get some juicy red strawberries before the season started to wane.
I looooooooooove strawberries. I would pick a bowl of juicy, ripe strawberries over any cookie/brownie/cake in this world if I had the choice. I suppose that’s a bit of an extreme statement and may be a slight exaggeration, but when I think of that burst of sweetness from biting into a strawberry or how they make me feel after snacking on them over a heavier dessert, I tend to think it’s accurate. I think strawberries can be paired well with almost anything too-they’re fabulous in a spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette, they’re refreshing in a bowl with sliced bananas and kiwis, and they’re lovely covered in dark chocolate. And they make a really fabulous lemonade.
And because I was already getting lemons to surprise my fiance with homemade summer shandies (lemonade mixed with beer, all the rage on the beer scene right now), I figured maybe the lemons could do double duty.
They could flavor my beer and flavor my muffins. All at once.
What a fabulous summer idea. I don’t normally make muffins. In fact, I never make muffins because, quite frankly, I just feel like that’s far too many calories and too much sugar for something that normally doesn’t have any frosting on it that you’re supposed to consume for breakfast. Normally, I’d say “no thank you”, but I’ve had a recipe for strawberries and cream muffins sitting on my iPhone browser for approximately six months. I figured there had to be a reason, and since I had every other ingredient in them already waiting at home, I thought perhaps my strawberry raid at Trader Joe’s would finally be a good excuse to clear my browser history. The addition of lemon zest was just a fun little addition to satisfy the strawberry lemonade I’ve been craving.
Lemon Strawberry Cream Muffins
Stuff You’ll Need
Makes 16 cupcake-sized muffins
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup 2% milk
- 2/3 cup regular half and half
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 2 large eggs
- 4 oz full-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced into small pieces
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon zest
How to Do It
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line 1-2 muffin pans with paper liners.
- Sift together the all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Lightly whisk the ingredients, and set aside.
- Blend the cream cheese, 1 1/2 Tbsp of the liquid from the lightly beaten egg, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, and the lemon zest in a separate mixing bowl with a fork or small whisk. Once the mixture is blended but still soft (not liquid), set the bowl aside.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, half and half, and milk into the saucepan, and continue the stir. Heat the mixture over low heat until it’s thoroughly warm but not bubbling. Continuously whisk the milk mixture while adding the eggs, and continue stirring until the ingredients are warm and just slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
- Pour the milk mixture evenly over the flour blend. Using a whisk, gently blend the ingredients together until they’re just uniform. Don’t over mix!
- Scoop the batter into the prepared pans, filling each cup about halfway up. Put several chunks of strawberries into each cup so they’re still visible, and spoon a tsp of the cream cheese mixture on top of each cup. Cover this with a small spoonful of the remaining batter, and top it with more strawberry chunks.
- Bake the muffins for 26-30 minutes or until they begin to brown around the edges and the tops spring back slightly when pressed lightly. Remove the muffins from the oven, and allow them to cool in the pan for 5 minutes on top of a wire cooling rack. Transfer the muffins to the wire cooling rack to finish cooling completely.
Recipe adapted from Jane’s Sweets & Baking Journal.