The only thing that gets me through winter is Christmas. When January hits I keep my then-skeletal, tinselled tree decaying in the living room for at least a month (like a fifty-year old prom queen) to pretend the next three months of slushy gloom is just. not. happening.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Christmas ROCKS. So do these Christmas Muffins—and I *swear* you can hear Jingle Bells when you eat ‘em.
There’s two things about these muffins you should know. First; the OTT flavour combo is totally worth it. That being said…you can customise it by taking away or adding things and it’ll still taste like Miracle on 34th Street. Just keep to the main batter ingredients (pumpkin, orange, spices) and go wherever your festive little stomach-heart leads you.
How To Make a Healthy Chocolate Spread
For this Christmas Muffin recipe, I use my ultimate, lather-on-everything food-crush, Meridian Foods’ Cocoa & Hazelnut Butter. But, if you want to DIY it, all you need is some maple syrup/honey, cocoa powder, and your favourite nut butter. (See the notes section after the recipe for deets.)
Why Rehydrate the Cranberries?
In a perfect world, fresh cranberries would be on tap during The Cranberry Season, but alas, you may be stuck with just the dried version (like I am, right now). I prefer to rehydrate dried cranberries—meaning, add back moisture—because it lends plumpness and flavour to the final muffin. It also prevents the cranberries from absorbing excess moisture from the batter itself.
Do I Have to Do the Swirly Thing?
Nope. Once you’ve filled your muffin cases, just make a slight depression in the batter and spoon the nut butter/choc spread and cream cheese into it. Then spoon over the batter to cover for more of a ‘surprise’ filling.Print
The ULTIMATE Christmas Muffin with alllll the fixings…think spiced pumpkin, tarty juicy cranberries, hazelnut butter & cream cheese frosting. Ho-ho-hoooo boyyy!
For the muffins—
- 1 cup dried/ frozen fresh cranberries
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp true cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 can (around 425g) 100% pumpkin purée
- 3/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- just over 1/3 cup rapeseed or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Zest of one large orange
- 100g (around half a cup) cocoa hazelnut butter / chocolate spread of choice*
For the cream cheese swirl—
- 100g (around half a cup) cream cheese/ soft white cheese
- 1 generous tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375°F / 180 C / Gas Mark 4. Arrange unbleached muffin cases in muffin tray.
- If using dried cranberries, pour very hot water over them and leave for around 15-20 minutes to rehydrate.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk pumpkin and honey together. Then add eggs, oil of choice, vanilla extract and orange zest. Whisk until fully combined.
- Pour in flour mixture a little at a time, whisking only until you see no lumps.
- Drain cranberries if rehydrating. Fold into batter.
- Using a ladle, spoon batter into muffin cases, filling 2/3 of the way for each.
- In a medium bowl, whisk cream cheese/ soft white cheese until smooth. Pour in honey, egg yolk and vanilla extract and whisk again until smooth and blended.
- Using a tablespoon, dollop one spoonful of the cream cheese mixture onto each muffin. Repeat with cocoa hazelnut butter/ chocolate spread.
- Spoon over a little of the pumpkin batter already in the muffin case, and, using a toothpick, swirl together with the cream cheese and hazelnut butter/ chocolate spread (think a few tiny swirls in a figure 8 motion).
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until the muffins are slightly springy to the touch (or an inserted toothpick comes out clean).
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
*You can also make your own chocolate nut butter by adding 3 tbsp maple syrup and 2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder to your favourite nut butter.
These muffins taste amazing fresh from the oven OR chilled—so feel free to bake ‘em the night before for the lushest breakfast everrr.