breakfast | cinnamon | jam | muffins | streusel

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

February 23, 2012
Morning on 71st Street, NY

Or so I’ve heard.

‘Cause I’m not a big morning person. I’m actually mostly anti-mornings, being a total night owl. That makes me an anti-breakfast person by default, so I don’t truly believe that old adage. I’ve always been a “grab a quick bagel with butter on the way to work/school/etc” girl myself, & somehow I always managed to get through the day without crashing & burning. At least, not completely.

However that is my kind of breakfast. A mini-coffee cake muffin topped with a spoonful of homemade vanilla-brandy chestnut jam. Say whaaaaaaat.

I made these muffins in my babycakes mini-cupcake maker, which kind of compressed the streusel to make a caramelized, crunchy top. A total surprise, but a welcome one. Streusel hates my face anyway; it never works out for me. Well except for these muffins & these muffins, both of which were properly streusel-fied. But otherwise, no. In all four (and almost one half) years of having a blog, those are the only two times it ever worked for me. So this way, I didn’t have to worry. I ended up with a lovely crust on top and just acted like I meant to do that. Heh.

Mmm, mmm good. The jam is really rich, very “expensive” tasting. And because of the brandy, it’s warming. On top of a warm coffee cake muffin it’s just over-the-top amazing. Okay, okay, so maybe it’s not your everyday breakfast. But Sunday mornings beg for stuff like this. A cold Sunday morning, the sun coming up through your window, you reading the Times & having a cup of hazelnut coffee fresh out of the Keurig… a plate of hot coffee cake muffins with a welcoming jar of vanilla-brandy chestnut jam waiting for you at the table? Perfection. Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe its not your idea of a breakfast. Even if it’s your afternoon or evening snack, it’s way better than a bag of chips, right?

It’s something comforting, and sometimes you need that. I’ve been thinking of my grandma a lot lately, so I especially need some comfort. St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, how could I not think of my little Irish red-headed grandma? It’s hard. It’s even harder still to think it’s only been a little over 7 months. On one hand it feels like it’s been 100 years since I saw her last, on the other hand it feels just like yesterday she was still here. I miss her. Not even always in a sad way- sometimes I just miss her being; her laugh, her voice, just her presence.

Yeah. I know, eating muffins doesn’t really help with grief, but we can sure try.

MINI-COFFEE CAKE MUFFINS (from Martha Stewart)


Streusel topping:
  • ¼ cup light-brown sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Coffee cakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • Nonstick cooking spray, for pans, or use liners


  1. Preheat the oven to 375° degrees. To make the topping, in a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Add butter, and work in, using your fingers or a pastry cutter, until well combined; set aside
  2. To make the batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the sour cream and buttermilk, and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients; scrape down the bowl as necessary.
  3. Spray eighteen cups of a mini-muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Divide batter evenly between cups. Sprinkle topping over batter. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let stand in pans for 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Eat while warm.

If you’re using a mini-cupcake maker to bake them, use one teaspoon of batter in each (otherwise it will overflow) and bake for 8 minutes. If not, then disregard. I used liners because I hate gunking up my cupcake maker (or my muffin tins) unless I absolutely have to. But if you’d rather just pop ’em in your mouth without the extra work of taking off the liner, then have at it.

Yeah, you know you want it.

They’d be delicious with any kind of jam or preserve (or conserve). But because they’re sweet with the spicy cinnamon topping, they’re extra good with something rich & sweet like the chestnut jam. Although the gingerbread spice jelly would probably be good, as would banana brown sugar butter. If you’re into clotted cream you could try that. They’re delicious alone, though, too. Or you can do what my grandma would do & have it with a pat or two of butter. My grandma put butter on everything… even pizza.

Speaking of butter… and baked goods… my Alfajores cookies were featured in an L Magazine piece about the best cookie recipes from local bloggers! AWESOME! Thank you Kara!

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  1. Baby Girl, Congratulations on the mention in ‘L’ magazine…The ‘IN” magazine for New Yorkers…awesome like we New Yorkers are! Your hair is gorgeous…but it always is & you always are…Do other mothers envy me? Without a doubt! That being said…carry on…There are things to bake for ‘Mere’….Love you…

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