Going shopping while hungry is almost never a good idea. Last night, in addition to a giant bar of dark chocolate, I came home with about 4 pints of fresh blueberries. No problem, I rationalized, I'll make muffins. I wanted a better blueberry muffin, so I ran to the computer for inspiration. Blueberry muffins, like banana bread, always seem like a great idea and we love eating them, but when it comes time to find a recipe it's chaos. I was quickly reminded that there are an endless amount of muffin and bread recipes on the internet all claiming to be the best- but none are ever quite right. An hour later I was still looking at the screen, zombie-like, when my mom came to my rescue waiving, in victory, the recipe card for my great Aunt Sonia's blueberry muffins. I almost cried in joy. I had almost forgotten about these muffins- these glorious, sugar crystal encrusted, giant muffins.
When you first look at this recipe, it seems so normal. There's sugar, butter, flour- all typical baking ingredients. For the most part (save for the almond extract and vanilla bean paste-but more about those later) the muffins are made with everyday ingredients and I think that's what makes them magical. The proportions of those ingredients are just right, allowing the blueberries to really shine through while the almond extract and vanilla bean paste lend this warm, comforting, background. (Note: vanilla bean paste contains the scraped out seeds from a vanilla bean. It saves you time and money and can be found in the food/baking section of TJMaxx/Marshalls for around $6.00. Once you start baking with it, you won't be able to stop- we promise!)
Needless to say, I am forever indebted to my Great Aunt Sonia for passing down this muffin recipe. These muffins have become my go-to, preventing me from becoming a screen staring, muffin-less zombie. And as I am sure to be making many other impromtu berry purchases at the markets, I'm am thrilled to have this recipe in my arsenal.
Aunt Sonia's Blueberry Muffins
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla bean paste
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 cups blueberries
- large, crystal sugar for topping
- pinch of kosher or sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 375 and butter and flour large muffin tins. These muffins are meant to be giant! You can also bake them in large ramekins if you don't have large muffin tins.
2. Cream together the sugar and butter.
3. Add the milk, eggs, vanilla bean paste, and almond extract.
4. Mix in flour, baking soda, and salt. The batter will be quite thick, but that's okay. The moisture from the blueberries will loosen it up a bit.
5. Gently fold in the blueberries.
6. Spoon batter about 3/4 way up the muffin tins. Sprinkle generously with the large sugar crystals (sprinkling with large sugar is essential!) and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes about 8 large muffins or 12-16 regular sized muffins.