These muffins are perfect for Christmas. They’re chockful of festive ingredients and flavors: Fresh cranberries, zucchini, apples, orange zest … top with a little orange-vanilla glaze and add red and green sprinkles and you’ve got just the thing for Christmas morning.
I love the idea of a special dish that’s served only on Christmas morning. Growing up, it was “egg souffle” – an overnight strata-type casserole made with eggs, bread, cheese, mushrooms and chopped-up little link sausages. It was one of the best things about Christmas morning. So good.
I’ve carried on the tradition, usually whipping up a sausage-less version for me and another meat-full dish for others; though it never ever tastes as good as my mom’s. Maybe it suffers from the Sandwich Complex – sandwiches are always better when someone else makes ’em.
Anyway, this year I’ve decided to add muffins to the mix. Full of festive colors thanks to emerald-green shredded zucchini, granny smith apples, and vibrant cranberries, they’re plenty Christmas-y all on their own, without the added over-the-top touches.
But Christmas is all about going over-the-top – so these muffins are topped with a sweet orange-vanilla glaze and then sprinkled in red and green. And then devoured.
I love the tart-sweet cranberries and apples and how the sweetness of the glaze balances the tartness perfectly. I love how fancy and festive and slightly silly they look on a petite white cake stand.
I love Christmas. It makes me smile. I wish a very merry, merry one to you and yours. Enjoy it all!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (or sub 1 cup whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the white)
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup buttermilk*
- 2/3 cup applesauce
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup canola 0r vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 cup fresh or frozen (and then thawed cranberries, cut in half)
- 1 cup diced tart apple (like Granny Smith)
- 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
- Vanilla-Orange Glaze
- 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
- Sprinkles (if desired)
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Line 15 standard muffin cups with cupcake liners, or grease them.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour(s), oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, applesauce, sugar, brown sugar, canola or vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the cranberries, apple, and zucchini.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and whisk together just until incorporated.
- Divide between 15 or so muffin cups - approximately a scant 1/2 cup each.
- Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched.
- Line the counter with a couple of paper towels, and place a wire rack on top. Once the muffins are cool enough to touch, move them to a wire rack.
- Allow the muffins to cool to room temperature, or close - about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together the glaze. Simply whisk the powdered sugar, vanilla, orange zest, milk and orange juice together until it's glaze consistency.
- Drizzle the glaze over the top of the muffins. If desired, top with sprinkles while the glaze is still wet (c'mon! It's Christmas! Go for it!)