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Meet the Three Ingredients That'll Improve Your Muffins

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There are too many bad muffins in the world. Muffins—the kind you find in coffee shops or wrapped in plastic at delis—are generally too sweet, too bland, or too dry. The silver lining of this sad state of affairs is when you taste a really good muffin, it's magic.

Brown Butter Coconut Almond Muffins
Brown Butter Coconut Almond Muffins

A good muffin should have a lofty, domed top—one that's craggy and golden and breaks apart into large pieces. It should be moist with a tender crumb, and have actual flavor (i.e. if it's blueberry, it should taste like blueberry! If it's corn, it should taste like corn!). A good muffin shouldn't be too sweet, and it should lend itself nicely to being toasted and slathered with butter.

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Today's recipe checks all those boxes, and then some, and I cannot tell you enough how much I love these muffins. Inspired by my recent obsession with almond paste (I've added it to chocolate chip cookie dough, waffle batter, and will continue experimenting), I wanted to create a muffin recipe that would be moist. but not dense. After some tinkering, I found a combination of three ingredients that yields the perfect texture: brown butter, coconut milk, and almond paste.

The almond paste adds a mild, nutty sweetness, however if you prefer your muffins to skew more towards dessert, you could certainly add a bit more sugar. I also use two kinds of coconut: coconut milk (use canned, not bottled or boxed) and shredded coconut (make sure you use unsweetened shredded coconut). While the flavors sound intense, the muffins end up pleasantly simple: Neither the almond or coconut notes are overwhelming, allowing you to still taste the brown butter.

Muffin dome goals.
Muffin dome goals. Photo by Posie Harwood

One of the best parts of these muffins is how beautifully they dome in the oven. To achieve this, make sure your baking powder is fresh (you'll use a full tablespoon in the batter). Also, preheat your oven and let it stay at the proper temperature for at least ten minutes before baking, to make sure it's good and hot. Once you put the pan in the oven, do not open the door. Resist the urge! The high heat is what makes them dome, and opening the door can hinder this.

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Brown Butter Coconut Almond Muffins

1e4d7b52 fd4f 4798 ae19 d0f715768358  ry 400 Posie Harwood
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Makes 12 muffins
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 7 ounces almond paste, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

What's in your favorite muffin? Tell us about it in the comments.

Posie Harwood is a writer, photographer, and food stylist based in New York. You can read more of her writing here.