If necessity is the mother of invention, then these muffins are the happy result. The urge to bake breakfast struck again, and facing a fridge with a naked zest-less orange, an over-abundance of egg whites leftover from an ice cream making frenzy, and some crisp, dark Bing cherries, what do you do? Make cherry almond citrus muffins, of course.
Admittedly, these aren’t the quickest batch of muffins you’ll ever make, but the few extra steps added to the usual wet-dry-mix-bake-yum are worth your trouble. The ground almonds add a nutty background flavor, a fine companion to the workhorse but slightly mundane all-purpose flour. Then, some toasted almonds give crunchy texture, and vanilla and almond extract round it out. Pitting the cherries is streamlined with the help of an unabashedly wonderful uni-tasker, the cherry pitter, and then in no time, it’s muffin time.
The citrus (lemon or orange zest, orange juice) punches up the flavor of the already-delicious match of almonds and cherries and helps to create surprisingly complex muffins that are welcome anytime at the breakfast table.
Cherry Almond Citrus Muffins
adapted from Baked
The original recipe is for orange almond blueberry muffins, which are perfectly delicious themselves, but I switched it up by swapping lemon zest for the orange zest (out of mere necessity), adding vanilla and almond extract, reducing the sugar slightly, and using cherries instead of blueberries.
I doubled the recipe listed below, hence the quantities in my photos are greater than in the recipe.
Makes 12 muffins
Zest of 1 large lemon (or orange)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup blanched (skins removed) almonds (whole, sliced, or slivered), finely ground*
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 ounces (about a heaping 3/4 cup) pitted sweet cherries (I used Bing), halved
Raw sugar and/or sliced almonds to top
Preheat oven to 375° F and center a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a muffin pan with paper liners, butter, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon or orange zest, orange juice, milk, egg whites, vanilla, almond extract, and butter.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the ground almonds, flour, sugar, toasted sliced almonds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet ingredients, and stir until just combined. (The batter won’t be completely smooth; lumps are okay.) Gently fold in the cherries.
Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Scatter raw sugar and/or arrange 3-4 sliced almonds on the top of each muffin. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then, remove muffins from the pan but keep them on the rack until completely cool.
The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days, but they will always be best the first day.
*You can finely grind the almonds in the food processor, pulsing until powdered. Don’t over process the almonds or they’ll turn into almond butter.