12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 3: Upside-Down Caramel Apple Muffins

I’m going to have to make this a quick post, because I need to pack for a trip!

While I’ve had many successes with cake, I can’t say the same for muffins. I’ve had more misses than hits in the muffin department, and I think it’s because of the way the ingredients are combined. No creaming, just mixing wet ingredients into the dry and baking. I don’t think I have the lightest hand when combining muffin batter, and it results in strange aftertastes.

I once made an atrocious muffin from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, and it had a harsh baking soda aftertaste. So, for the next muffin recipe I tried from HTBADG,  I halved the amount of baking powder and soda. And I got a disgusting, claggy, underdone, flat muffin.

So I learned my lesson: follow the recipe. Which is what I did with these upside-down caramel apple muffins. The recipe is from NYT’s Melissa Clark, a writer I adore. She elevates the everyday with a twist in technique or by adding an unusual element, and her laidback style (in front of the camera and on paper) makes the recipe easy to follow. In this recipe, she’s added fruit and baked it under dollops of muffin batter, so the apple slices get a lovely caramelization. Plus, they look pretty cute.

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The only substitute I used was yogurt in lieu of sour cream. The original recipe is over at the NYT cooking page. 

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Blondie Ambition : Melissa Clark’s Chocolate-Crusted Banana Blondies

I have been on a blondie-baking spree. Is it just me, or are blondies having a moment once again? Sizzling brownies are not going off dessert menus  in India anytime soon (and honestly, in most restaurants, what you get is a burnt brownie, not a sizzling one,) but I can’t help but notice how blondies have been doing the rounds on the blogosphere. Just look here,  here,  here  and here. And each adapted in a fun, eat-the-batter-with-a-spoon way!

I know blondies are nothing new, they have been around for ages now. I was re-introduced to them via Melissa Clark’s NYT column, A Good Appetite. (I absolutely love her recipes and innovations- and her use of good-quality pantry ingredients to make an everyday meal special.) I was suddenly in the blondie fast lane. I looked them up on every possible online food publication and blog, read and re-read recipes from magazines and cookbooks, was kind of shocked when I learned Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess didn’t have a blondie recipe…I even stalked a prominent British food writer’s Instagram stream and point-blank asked her if she had a perfect blondie recipe.

After browsing recipes for a while, it was the variations in sugar combinations that struck me most- with each recipe using some form of brown sugar.

Ina Garten: Lightly packed light brown sugar + granulated sugar

Alice Medrich: Tightly packed light brown sugar

Bobby Flay: Light brown muscovado + dark brown muscovado

Deb Perelman: Dark brown sugar

Pooja Dhingra: Light brown sugar

But the recipe I’m sharing today is none of the above, it’s what got me interested in blondies in the first place: Melissa Clark’s Chocolate-Crusted Banana Blondies. Continue reading