For those days when we can’t give our best. For those days when we’d rather wear the sweatpants and sweatshirt instead of the skirt and heels. For those days when eight hours of “Downton Abbey” sounds so much better than eight hours of being social. For those days when making a sandwich is about all the exercise we can do for the day. For those days when we’d rather curl up on the couch and rest easy, and let tomorrow be the day when we go get ‘em again.
These muffins are for those days (and, really, any other day you want to eat something delicious).
I can’t say for sure what it is about these muffins that resets all that seems wrong with the world and makes it right again. Mayhaps it’s the brown butter whipped into the thick batter. Or the chopped caramels that melt in the oven and ooze down the center when you break into the muffin, all warm and crumbly. Or the soft bits of pear, resting halfway between the melting caramel and the sweet streusel topping. I don’t know. It could be something else entirely.
I figured I had a pretty good thing going when I decided to bring all these ingredients into a muffin, but I really had no idea just how amazing it would turn out. It’s like all the flavors of fall and comfort and happiness wrapped into one cozy pastry. It’s dessert and breakfast all at the same time (the best type of muffin, in my opinion). It brings smiles to faces of those you share a batch with and, with a decent mug of warm tea or coffee, it helps to cure most ailments, from broken hearts and bones to a case of the common cold or the Mondays. Because sometimes, we just have one of those days.
Thankfully, we also have these muffins.
Brown Butter Caramel Pear Muffins
Adapted from Taste of Home
Yields: 14 muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup peeled and chopped pear (preferably Bartlett)
12 caramels, chopped
For the topping –
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; line muffin tins with paper baking cups. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt and cook butter, stirring often, until butter turns a deep brown color. Remove from heat and pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Cool slightly before adding egg, milk and vanilla to bowl. Stir to combine.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in chopped pear and caramels.
Fill baking cups about 3/4 full with batter. In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over batter in cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake portion of the muffin comes out clean.
Remove muffin tins from oven and let muffins cool in pan 5 minutes before removing. Serve warm.