So, I love muffins. For starters, they are a no-fuss affair. A bowl or two, a whisking of a few ingredients, and off into the oven they go. The ultimate payoff between time invested and delicious results. I lean towards the healthier ones too, so when peeling away the liner, and biting into it still warm, there’s less guilt involved then taking a bite out of a buttercream covered chocolate cupcake. Not that that stopped me from biting into one* of that variety yesterday, but I digress.

Back to muffins, Yaki likes them too, which is a double win in my book. We all know how much he loves these oatmeal muffins, and how, when we find something he loves, we usually stick to that recipe for a long, long time- usually, until he decides he no longer loves it, as he did one night last week with his erstwhile favorite fish dish. It went from favorite to “please-don’t-make-this-anymore” overnight. And this, not long after I nailed the recipe. Oh well, at least I immortalized it here, right? So usually, when we like something, we stick to it, holding it by the neck until we manage to squeeze the living daylight out of it, and then, well, it’s no surprise we don’t want to look at it anymore. So I was a little hesitant to try these cranberry muffins when we were still in the throes of our love affair with the oatmeal variety, but I was at the farmer’s market last Sunday, and the vendor I usually buy eggs from had a big crate of heirloom cranberries on his table, with a paper cup inside, all stained and creased around the lip. That was all the prompting I needed. I bought a big bagful, which languished at the back of my crisper drawer all week, while I obsessed and plotted (see below). And lo and behold, it came back to muffins. Somehow, it always does.

These muffins are light and fluffy, and remain wonderfully moist for quite a few days. The batter, spiked with browned butter and vanilla is downright intoxicating. The spelt flour adds a pleasant nuttiness, and the cranberries melt and ooze a bit while baking, rounding out their tartness. They come together so easily, making them perfect for this Thanksgiving weekend. And with that, I’m headed out to New Jersey, where we’ll celebrate with friends and a houseful of giddy, exuberant, magical kids.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks, and thank you for being here.

*Ok, there might have been four, er, five- but they were mini muffins, and Yaki had half of each. Oh, and it was for the sake of research.

Brown Butter Cranberry Muffins with Spelt

adapted from Joy the Baker

Notes: I substituted spelt flour for the all-purpose flour specified in the original, and used light brown sugar instead of white. 

Yield: 12 muffins

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup whole milk (I used skim)

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of 1 lime

1 1/2 cups spelt flour

3/4 cups light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

1/4 cup brown sugar, for topping

Preheat the oven to 350F, and place a rack in the upper third of oven. Line your muffin pan.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan, keeping a close eye on it. Continue cooking until the crackling subsides and the butter begins to brown. Remove from heat.

Whisk milk, egg, yolk, vanilla and lime zest until combined. Add the browned butter and whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the milk and butter mixture to the flour, and stir gently to combine. Gently fold in the cranberries.

Divide the batter among muffin cups, and sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake until golden and crisp, and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then remove from pan.

More ideas for cranberries:

Spiced Cranberry Chutney at Free Eats

Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Cake at The Wednesday Chef

How festive are these Sparkling Cranberries?

I think a version of Heidi’s Baked Oatmeal with cranberries would be delicious and so seasonal.

Count on Martha to turn cranberries into this gorgeous decorating idea.

Coming soon: I’m thinking of making cranberry infused vodka. Want to join me? Start hoarding pretty bottles.