Carrot Muffins with Brown Butter and Currants

2 May

This is quite the departure from the last batch of carrot muffins I made which used no sugar and lots of healthy and life lengthening ingredients (I ate some dates, I’m going to live forever). It was a rainy Sunday and I was “tried” from the weekend’s events, there was only one thing to do: Bake. There is nothing better than  an afternoon of baking to finish up the weekend, especially if it’s raining. So grabbed (another) new cookbook I was able to get my greedy little hands on and saw a muffin recipe I couldn’t pass up. And wouldn’t you know it, the full recipe is happily available online (thanks NPR!)

{ Carrot Muffins with Brown Butter and CurrantsThe Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas }


Now this is a real-deal baking recipe (sorry for the Guy Fieri verbiage) that calls for eggs AT ROOM TEMPERATURE, and butter THAT HAS BEEN BROWNED,  flour THROUGHLY SIFTED, and carrots THAT NEED GRATING. Was I up for the challenge? You bet you ass I was. And besides, the alternative was watch a full season of Arrested Development throughout the day, which let’s just say is not a foreign activity in our household on the weekends.

So what is browned butter exactly? It’s unsalted butter that is put over low heat for some time to allow the butterfat and milk solids to separate. Once this occurs the milk solids will start to turn a delicious brown color as they begin to toast from the heat.


ButterBoilIt also smells amazing. While this is happening, you want to take some dried currants and re-hydrate them in boiling water

CurrantsAnd might I add, I just love currants. I’m a fan of raisins as well, but no matter what, the flavor of raisins will always elicit a vivid sense memory of how much I used to hate them as a kid. I don’t have that with anything else. Just raisins. Babysteps. Drain these, and let cool down to room temp, along with your newly browned butter, and your eggs. Now is a good time to squeeze in some episodes…or work your way through your growing pile of New Yorkers because why do they come so fast.


nowenteringflavorcountryBeat [room temperature] eggs, sugar, orange zest, vanilla, and salt until fluffy. Now, we don’t simply mix, but we layer the carrots, currants, and sifted flour mixture (which is just flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and ginger), and gently fold them together. I used about half the amount of carrots needed for this because I was (again) using baby carrots, and kept grating myself when I got close to the nubs. Will I ever learn? Probably not.

nowenteringflavorcountryBut Erica, what about the browned butter? I thought you’d never ask. Once you have your gently folded batter, you tenderly massage the browned butter in with a caring spatula.

nowenteringflavorcountryOnce mixed, tenderly schlop your batter into prepared muffin tins. Now here’s my favorite part: top with sugar AND a pinch of salt. GENIUS! Why have I never thought of that before. You get a nice sugary top with a little caramelized crunch, and you have that added flavor complexity with the salt…OH it’s just too much, I love it! My new secret weapon.

nowenteringflavorcountry…this is where I stopped taking pictures. Why? Because by the time they had cooled enough for me to handle (enough to take a picture at least) I was settled on the couch, ready to get my lethargy on. And what makes this worse is I didn’t even realize it until THE NEXT DAY. So here I have a half eaten, day old muffin, and some of its associates in a glass prison I like to call my baked goods jar.



nowenteringflavorcountryIf you look closely, you can barely see any carrots….

On an unrelated note, John and I were in Seattle over the Summer, and we had the pleasure of dining at one of Tom Douglas’ restaurants, Palace Kitchen. Of course I only had my phone with me, so all the pictures are horrible, but it was absolutely delicious. One of the (if not “The”) best meals I’ve ever had. You could actually taste the love. We never got a chance to make it to the Dahlia Bakery while we were there, but they did feature some of the baked goods at the restaurant.



Carrot Muffins with Brown Butter and Currants – The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas }

  • 1 cup (2 sticks/8 ounces/227 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1⁄2 cup (2 ounces/60 grams) dried currants
  • 1⁄2 cup (4 ounces/115 grams) water
  • 13 ⁄4 cups (10 ounces/285 grams) all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 ⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 ⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature (see “how to Bring ingredients to room temperature,” page 12)
  • 1 cup (7 ounces/200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (5 ounces/142 grams/about
  • 2 medium) peeled and grated carrot (use the largest holes of a box grater)
  • raw (turbinado), granulated, or crystal sugar and kosher salt as needed for sprinkling
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
  2. To make the brown butter, place the butter in a small saucepan over medium- high heat and cook until the butter solids are browned and smell toasty, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes or a little longer. Watch carefully so the butter does not burn. As the butter browns, the foam rises to the top and dark brown particles stick to the bottom of the pan. As soon as the butter is dark golden brown, pour it into a small bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature. (You can put the bowl in the refrigerator to cool more quickly, but do not let the butter solidify.)
  3. Combine the currants with the water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Simmer until the currants are plump, about 10 minutes. Remove the currants from the heat, drain, and transfer to a small bowl to cool to room temperature.
  4. Into a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and ginger together twice, then set the dry ingredients aside (see “How to Sift,” page 13).
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, orange zest, vanilla, and salt. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium- high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. The egg mixture should begin to “ribbon” but not hold the ribbon. (In other words, when you lift the whisk, you will start to see a ribbon forming, but it will dissipate quickly.)
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Without stirring, place the carrots and currants on top of the egg mixture. Then pour the dry ingredients on top and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold everything together. Finally, fold in the browned butter, combining everything thoroughly but gently.
  7. Scoop the muffins into the paper- lined muffin cups, dividing it evenly, using about 3 ounces, or about 1 ⁄3 cup, of batter per muffin (see “How to Scoop Muffins, Cookies, and Cupcakes,” page 74).
  8. Lightly sprinkle about 1 ⁄4 teaspoon raw sugar and a pinch of kosher salt on top of each muffin. Bake until the muffins are cooked through and golden, about 18 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through the baking time. A wooden skewer inserted into a muffin should come out with a few crumbs clinging but no batter.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack about 10 minutes before unmolding.

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