So I went a little crazy buying strawberries lately, since they're in season, and they remind me so much of spring and summer. (I've been hard pressed to get into the spring mode since it's still just rain, rain, rain here!) Well, this morning, I opened the fridge and stared at 15 pounds of fresh berries and decided I needed to do something with them other than just gobble them right out of the containers. They're super sweet, so they're delicious like that too! The boys have been begging for me to bake, and since it's Easter break and they're home all day, I figured I would bake something...but what? Trifle? it's yummy, but a bit of a hassle, plus, I just don't have room in the fridge for the trifle bowl. Strawberry pancakes? been there, done that....also, we're having pancakes later in the week with these awesome silicon pancake Easter shapes I got on clearance, so I didn't want to detract from that thunder. What to make, what to make...Muffins! Yes! That's just the thing, that way I don't have to portion anything out for anyone (kids!), and once they're mixed up, all I have to do is check them, not stand over a hot stove! Here's a pic of the finished product
Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Muffins
1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons strawberry preserves or jelly
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped strawberries (bite-size pieces)
1 cup milk chocolate chips (or semisweet if you prefer, even white if that's your fancy!)
Preheat over to 400 degrees. Prepare 24 muffin cups with liners. You definitely need liners on this one unless you like throwing away muffin pans. In a mixer, mix together the butter and sugar until it looks smooth. Make sure you use a spatula and scrape down the bowl at least once here to get the butter that will stick to the bottom of the bowl. Beat the egg in a separate bowl, then add it and mix until it's completely incorporated. Add your buttermilk, preserves (or jelly), and vanilla, and mix again until incorporated. Remember to scrape your bowl down frequently during all this mixing because the denser ingredients like to migrate to the bottom of the bowl! Okay, your batter looks broken and disgusting right now, right? Don't worry, it's supposed to. Trust me. You're going to want to cry at the way it looks but trust me when I tell you it's supposed to look like that. Now, in a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. whisk it together really well.
I'm going to break out a sec here to talk about measuring out flour. If you need 2 cups, like in this recipe, please please please don't measure it from your flour bag or canister with the 1 cup measure... Flour compacts in storage, and if you do it that way, you'll have waaay too much flour! It can vary up to several ounces and believe me, a few ounces in a recipe like this can make or break it! Instead, use a 1/2 cup measure and really dig into the flour, then pour from the 1/2 cup measure into the 1 cup measuring cup. Let it fall into the 1 cup measure. It should be just about enough to fill the 1 cup measure. Level it off with the flat edge of a knife, and resist the urge to tap the cup. Flour should be "fluffy" when added, not packed down/. Sugar is packed, flour is not! Now, back to the recipe...
So dump the flour mixture straight into the mixing bowl containing the butter, sugar, buttermilk mixture and start mixing it on slow. Scrape the bottom of your mixing bowl again, but just mix until the big clumps of flour are gone. It won't look like it's mixed enough, but it is. Now add the strawberries and chocolate chips, and mix those in by hand with the same spatula you've been scraping the bowl down with. Fold them in gently. That's all the mixing these muffins need. Now, scoop into your muffin pans that you lined with papers (I use an ice cream scoop so all my muffins are the same size, and so do professional bakeries) Put them on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, rotate the pans. That means put the pans that were in the back in the front, turning the pans at the same time, so the part of the pan that was facing the back of the oven is now facing the front of the oven. This ensures they don't burn due to hot spots in the oven, and every oven has hot spots. At 20 minutes, if your muffins look like the pic above, you're done! Take them out and let them cool for about 10 minutes (if you can control yourself!). If they're not quite done, which means if the top doesn't spring back when you lightly press on it, then give them 4 more minutes and check them again. Keep doing that if they need more time. Every oven is different, and mine were perfect at 20 minutes. That means start peeking at them at 18 minutes. They're so light and delicious!! I hope you all love them!! Let me know if you have any questions!!