Saturday, May 19, 2012

Orange, Almond, White-Chocolate Muffins with Cream Cheese/Grand Marnier Filling

My comrades at work are still talking about these muffins that I brought in last week. I'm always a bit nervous when I make up a new recipe, so I certainly appreciated nods of approval as they gobbled them up.

Earlier, I had seen a recipe for scallion muffins with a goat cheese interior. I made one-half batch and they were just so-so. But I loved the texture of the muffin and what the cheese did for the interior of the muffin--keeping it moist. So many muffins are dry, crumbly affairs.

That's when I'd thought I'd try a sweet muffin with a cream cheese filling. I had all the ingredients on hand, and couldn't get the idea out of my head. Since I planned to use orange and almond, several shots of Grand Marnier seemed a logical choice to include.

Grand Marnier is an intense orange liqueur distilled in France. A tiny bottle (about 1/4 cup) will set you back several bucks, but it's worth having on hand for recipes. I do the same for rum, Amaretto, whiskey. Since I really don't drink hard liquor, these small bottles are a great price alternative and perfect for one who cooks.

These muffins go together fairly easily. I kept the sugar to a minimum since they already had white chocolate. I wanted something a bit "grown-up" and not overly sweet. 

A while back I finally broke down and threw away all my old muffin tins which I had for years. I invested in some that were twice as heavy. My choice was Circulon. I liked the hefty weight and the beefy handles on either end. Clean-up is a snap and muffins and cupcakes cook evenly.

I'm not an advocate of paper liners from muffins. I like the outside a bit crisp. Be sure to use a fresh orange since the rind of older ones is bitter. And, yes, rinse your orange first and then dry it. A micro-plane makes for the best and easiest zesting.

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 heaping cup granulated, white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 heaping cup white chocolate morsels
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 225 ml. whole milk (one cup minus two tablespoons)
  • 1 large orange, zest only
  • Almond slivers
  • Filling:
  • 6 tablespoon cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Lightly spray/grease 12 muffin cups. Set oven to 400 F degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the filling ingredients. Set aside.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add sugar, baking powder, salt and white chocolate morsels.

In a medium bowl, blend the melted butter, milk, egg, almond extract and orange zest.

Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until incorporated without over-stirring. 

Fill each muffin cup a little less than halfway. Evenly divide the cheese mixture to each cup. Now distribute remaining batter to each cup to fill. Top with slivered almonds.

Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool about ten minutes. Remove to a wire rack.

I think these are best warm when the outside is still a bit crunchy/chewy. But I had one the next day and gobbled it up!

Notes: If too little batter is placed on top of the cheese mixture, the cheese will leak out during baking: