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Thursday, October 8,2009

A local chef shares her sweet secrets

Dessert Diva

By Danette Randall

Fall is in the air, everywhere I look around. Fall is in the air, every sight and every sound. Come on, you know you are singing along, and I love you for it.

Of course, I know the actual lyric is love, but I have never been one to shy away from making up my own words as I see fit. I'm guessing only the "older" people will even know the song in the first place, but not to worry. My dessert this week is for the young and the "young at heart." Strawberry Muffins with Strawberry Nutmeg Butter.

I thought for sure I would be diving right into the fall recipes, but it looks like I am a summer hanger-on-er. This recipe is just a gentle jump into warm and cozy desserts. I have the strawberries, which always bring to mind summer; I thought one more recipe before the apples, cranberries and pumpkins emerge.

I have the whole muffin thing going, which in my head always screams fall. Perhaps I feel more inclined to eat a muffin in the crisp fall air. Could be the extra layer of clothes makes me feel like it's OK. You know, the little summer tops and swimsuits don't make you feel that the delicious muffin staring at you is your friend. I guess that's where the phrase "muffin top" comes from. The urban dictionary defines muffin top as "the waist scrunching effect that results when females wear too-tight-fitting jeans with tiny tops." You know what I'm talking about. Wow. I'm just making a great case for you to whip this recipe up, aren't I? I must say I love how the top of the muffins spill out, swell up and get nice and crusty on top I'm talking about the actual muffins now, FYI.

And then there is the nutmeg, which goes hand-in-hand with the fall. So see, seasons merging is what this recipe is about.

We are using buttermilk, which I love baking with; the rich and tangy flavor and the creaminess of the texture makes for a home run every time. Buttermilk is available at any supermarket, but if you are in a pinch you can make your own. Mix 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of milk, stir and let sit about five minutes before using.

I made a compound butter to top on the muffins. I mean, if I am going to enjoy my first muffin of the fall, I may as well slab a little butter on top. Compound butter is just softened butter that is mixed with something delicious. I have mashed strawberries and nutmeg with it. You harden it back up, and there you have a yummy and pretty garnish.

So enjoy my last summer-ish recipe of the year, and go ahead and eat two, just buy bigger jeans...

Now, follow the directions, put some love into it, and invite me over when it's done.

Strawberry Buttermilk Muffins with Strawberry Nutmeg Butter

2-3/4 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup canola oil

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

1-1/2 cups diced strawberries granulated sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 12-count muffin tin and place on baking sheet. In large bowl combine, flour, sugar, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In small bowl, beat egg slightly, add in buttermilk, oil, vanilla and mix.

Add into dry mixture and combine well. Fold in strawberries.

Divide batter between muffin tins.

Top each muffin with a sprinkle of sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops start to brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let rest in muffin tin and then pop out and finish cooling on waxed paper.

Strawberry nutmeg butter

1/2 cup unsalted, softened butter

1/2 tsp. nutmeg pinch of salt

2 strawberries (mashed)

In small bowl, combine all ingredients. Scoop out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap, form butter back into shape of butter stick. Place in refrigerator. Let set for at least one hour.

When ready to serve muffins, take out butter, unwrap and slice into pats. Serve with muffin. Enjoy!

Note: Muffins can be served warm or at room temperature. They are good popped in the toaster oven. If you have left over, store in the refrigerator and then warm up before serving.

You can watch the Dessert Diva every Monday at 8:35 a.m. on Channel 2. To contact Danette at the station, visit 2thedeuce.com, and click on Daybreak on the Deuce. To chat and/or send comments and suggestions, write to jdromega@aol.com.

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