I have to tell you something about rhubarb: it is my favorite. So much so that I planted rhubarb last spring, so much so that I even buy frozen rhubarb during the winter, so much so that when spring comes, and the stalks are pink, gleaming, I put it in everything. Even in breakfast puffs.
Breakfast puffs are sweet, retro little treats. They’re nutmeg scented muffins that are baked, bathed in butter, and then rolled in cinnamon sugar, making them more like acceptable-to-eat-for-brunch doughnut holes than muffins. The minute I discovered them I became enamored, and I decided to make a batch with a few seasonally appropriate changes.
Instead of keeping these completely sweet, I added a fresh, rhubarb and orange jam to the middle of each muffin. Rhubarb and orange combine to a wonderful, fragrant pairing, and the addition of jam made for a slightly tart surprise in each breakfast puff. To the sugar topping, I added lavender; just enough to give these a floral touch, but not too much to overwhelm the tender, simple muffins.
The results were beautiful- the rhubarb and lavender are redolent of spring, the fresh orange juice brings out the warmth in the nutmeg and cinnamon, and the butter bath makes these completely indulgent. Serve them fresh and hot with extra jam- the people will love you, and you will make these again, because you will probably eat them all in one sitting.
Not that I speak from personal experience, or anything.
Yield: 12 breakfast puffs
Muffin base adapted from here
Why I love this recipe: a tart, orange accented rhubarb jam works wonderfully well with this cozy nutmeg scented batter. A quick bath in melted butter ensures that these stay moist and the warm, floral and woodsy sugar topping has just enough lavender in it too perfume the muffins without overwhelming them. Don’t skip the butter + sugar topping; they’re what takes these over the top. If you don’t want to serve these with the extra jam, use it in anything from oatmeal to yogurt parfaits.
For the jam:
- 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces
- juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the breakfast puffs:
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cups milk
For the cinnamon and lavender sugar topping:
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon lavender
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half
- First, make the cinnamon/lavender/vanilla sugar: combine the cinnamon, lavender, vanilla bean and sugar in an airtight container and shake until well mixed. Let sit overnight
- Make the rhubarb jam: in a medium saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup sugar and rhubarb. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, so that the sugar starts breaking down and dissolving.
- Add in the vanilla extract, and the orange juice. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has broken down into a thick jam, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
- Make the breakfast puffs: heat oven to 350. Butter a 12 hole standard muffin tin and set aside.
- Beat butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, salt and vanilla.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk together nutmeg, baking powder and flour.
- Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions – alternating with milk. Stir just enough to combine.
- Using an ice cream scoop, fill half of each buttered muffin hole with batter. Make an indent in the middle. Fill the indent with 1 tablespoon of rhubarb jam. Top the jam-filled batter with more batter, ensuring that it goes all around, so that the jam doesn’t leak out during baking.
- Bake until muffins are nicely puffed, golden brown and set, about 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand a few minutes.
- Remove muffins from tin, being careful as they are fragile. Working one at a time, dip each muffin into melted butter and then roll in lavender/cinnamon/vanilla sugar. Shake off excess.
- Serve while hot, with extra jam on the side.