I've been wanting to make these muffins for a while now, partly because I love anything coffee-related, partly because I thought it was cool how these might possibly be from William Shatner. Come on, the man was captain of the Enterprise. After retiring, he became a lawyer in Boston. He gets around, and he still finds time to be in the kitchen!
Of course, I changed up the recipe because I wanted to make these in the manner of a cupcake. Ideally, I wanted to brown the butter, let it cool, and beat with the sugar. I could have simply mixed the browned butter with the milk, but I was aiming for a lighter texture.
What happened next, since I was too hasty and didn't let the butter cool, is that the butter and sugar didn't whip properly because the heat sort of dissolved the sugar. After I added the egg, the mixture looked similar to a congealed mayonnaise mixture. In the end, the batter came together without a problem and resembled a pretty nice cupcake consistency.
Besides the browned butter, I replaced the cinnamon (too warm a flavor for the current heat wave) with cardamom (probably the same thing, but it seems lighter) and used only 1/2 cup chocolate chips. For the crowns I sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon sugar on top of each cup to look pretty. Unfortunately, I didn't remember that I had ground coffee beans mixed with sugar, otherwise I would have gone with the gold.
Based on pictures of other bloggers' cappuccino muffins, I had high expectation that the crowns would beam up into epic proportions. And they did! One of the most beautifully baked up muffin recipes I've ever encountered, and I was pretty happy. I also didn't grease the sides of the muffin tins, which I think is a Cook's Illustrated technique as it allows the batter to "grab" the sides and rise higher, if I recall correctly.
The texture was soft and fluffy, with just enough sweetness to make it appropriate for brek-fast, elevenses, you name it, spread with a sweetened whipped coffee cream cheese-butter spread (which I just thought of at this moment). The espresso flavor wasn't particularly strong, and the cardamom wasn't detectable whatsoever, though I'm thinking the combination of the two flavors with the browned butter, accented by vanilla, is what made the muffins tasty. If you would like a stronger coffee flavor, adjust the amount of espresso powder to suit your tastes. Definitely a repeat worthy recipe, though next time I'll bake the original version for comparison.
Recipe after the jump
william shatner's cappuccino muffins
His original recipe with my mods
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, browned and cooled to room temperature (you can refrigerate the butter to speed up the process, but make sure it doesn't completely solidify)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup chocolate chips
extra granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray the bottoms of a 12-cup nonstick muffin tin.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, espresso powder, cardamom, and salt.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar for 3 minutes on medium-high speed. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until mixed. On low speed, blend in one third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Continue alternating the flour and milk, ending with the flour. When a few traces of flour remain, stir in the chocolate chips just until mixed.
- Divide batter evenly amongst all 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle each top with 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Let muffins cool in tin for 5 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.