January 05, 2011

Best Blueberry Muffins

On New Year's Eve, I got up early and tossed together a batch of blueberry muffins for breakfast.  Talk about starting the day right... these were easily the best blueberry muffins either Juli or I'd ever had!

I made these muffins using the recipe for Best Blueberry Muffins from the May/June 2009 issue of Cook's Illustrated.  That recipe was written up by a woman who had once owned her own bakery, and who, after coming to the Test Kitchen, had decided to try to make a recipe for blueberry muffins as good as the ones she made in her bakery with fresh-picked, wild blueberries, but made at home and with store-bought blueberries.  I never tasted her bakery muffins, but I'll take her word that these are every bit as good, because I honestly can't imagine a blueberry muffin being better than the ones I made using her recipe.

These muffins tasted wonderful.... sweet, with rich blueberry flavor in every bite.  They were moist on the outside but almost crisp on the outside, and the lemon-sugar topping literally was crisp and crunchy.

The key to these muffins is that in addition to stirring whole blueberries into the dough, the recipe has you cook a cup of blueberries in a saucepan with a bit of sugar, cooking them down to make a sort of jam.   After pouring the batter into the muffin tins, you then stir a bit of the jam into each batch of dough.  Cooking down the blueberries into jam intensifies their flavor, and stirring the jam into the muffins before baking them results in that flavor permeating virtually the entire muffin.  The extra burst of flavor you get when you bite into one of the whole blueberries baked into the muffin pushes these muffins - and the recipe - over the top and into the realm of awesome culinary achievements.

I really can't say often enough or strongly enough how wonderful these muffins are.  All I can do is note that these have instantly earned a place among my go-to recipes, and encourage you to seek out a copy of the recipe and try them out for yourself.

As with all Cook's Illustrated recipes, the recipe for Best Blueberry Muffins is available at www.cooksillustrated.com with either a paid membership or a free, temporary membership to the website.

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