Marbled Muffins made with homemade strawberry jelly are our family favorite. The muffin batter is mildly sweet with a touch of acidity from the strawberry jelly. I used strawberry extract and lemon zest in the batter and repeated both flavors in the jelly.
The muffins have a subtle elegance that makes a perfect treat for tea parties or for children's birthdays or play dates. I've made them for both, and they're always a hit. The design is my own attempt at modern art; I put a dollop of the jelly on top of the batter and then use a toothpick to draw in random designs. It's not Jackson Pollock, but hey, I'm sure it tastes better than his paintings!
Yields: 24 muffins3 eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
zest of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons strawberry extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup canola oil (or any neutral oil)
1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed at room temperature
1/2 vanilla bean
2 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon corn starch (optional)
For the strawberry jelly:
Purée the thawed strawberries in a blender. Using a large mesh strainer, filter the strawberries and discard the solids.
Using a paring knife, scrape and gather all the grains of the vanilla bean.
In a small bowl, dissolve the corn starch in 2 tablespoons of water.
Place the strawberry purée in a small non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Skim off any foam that develops on the top. Cover and cook for about 5-8 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir frequently to prevent the strawberries from burning at the bottom of the pan. Add the vanilla grains, the corn starch liquid, powdered sugar, zest of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Cook until the mixture is thickened. To check if the jelly is ready, place a little amount of jelly onto a cold plate and let cool for about 2 minutes. If you tilt the plate and it stays in place, it's ready. Allow to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites.
Beat the egg yolks in a mixing bowl with half the amount of granulated sugar until they're pale, yellow; the texture of the egg yolks will be thicker. Add the vanilla and strawberry extracts.
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda.
Combine the egg yolk mixture, dry ingredients and zest of a lemon. Add milk and oil.
In another bowl, add the remaining salt to the egg whites and whisk for about 2 minutes at a low speed. Add the rest of the granulated sugar, increase the speed of your mixer and keep beating for another 2-3 minutes until it forms stiff peaks. Don't over-beat or the texture will become grainy.
Using a silicone spatula, mix 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to soften it. Add the rest of the whipped egg whites and fold in gently to get an airy batter.
Place a baking cup in each muffin mold. Pour in the muffin batter. Spoon about 1 to 2 teaspoons of strawberry jelly on each muffin. Using a toothpick, create a pretty design. Bake for 5 minutes at 375°F; lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 20-25 minutes. A skewer or a toothpick inserted into a muffin should come out clean. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely.
You could use 1-1/3 cups of water for an "über" light version (as Sunny, my little teenage sis-in-law would say) in place of the milk. You could also try and replace the milk with 3/4 cup of strawberry flavored yogurt (or plain yogurt) or 1/2 cup of sour cream. My aunt's healthy version is by dissolving 1/3 cup of (unsweetened apple sauce) in a cup of water.
If calories aren't a problem for you, you can substitute melted butter for the vegetable oil.
I just got the small container for the Vitamix blender. I absolutely love it. It's very convenient for blending small quantities.
After scraping the grains of vanilla, don't discard the remaining vanilla bean. Just place it in a jar and cover it with regular granulated sugar. Let it sit for a few weeks and you'll have a nice, fragrant vanilla sugar.
I add a little corn starch to ensure the jelly is thick. I used a very small quantity of strawberries. If you're extra cautious with the temperature of the jelly (your candy thermometer should read 220°F), corn starch shouldn't be necessary.
If they're in season, you can use fresh strawberries.
I used some strawberry extract; I bought it at a local store, the Milk Pail Market, 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040 but you can order through Amazon as well. If you don't have any, you can omit it.
Sifting the dry ingredients helps to get rid of lumps of flour and also to aerate the mixture when liquid is added. It's very important for all of your baking so you get a moist result.
The recipe yields 24 small muffins or 12 large muffins. I like using muffin liners for easy clean-up.
For an adult version, you can drizzle a little Bourbon or Brandy in the strawberry jelly and muffin batter.Published By: on January 14, 2010.