Meet the Three Ingredients That'll Improve Your Muffins

January 21, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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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. 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.

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

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Top Comment:
“my friend recently gave me a 7 lb can of almond paste. I'm wondering does this stuff ever expire? Can't find an expiration date anywhere. But there is a copyright date on the label saying 2008. :) ”
— mrslarkin

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

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I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


mrslarkin January 24, 2017
ohhhh my goodness. my friend recently gave me a 7 lb can of almond paste. I'm wondering does this stuff ever expire? Can't find an expiration date anywhere. But there is a copyright date on the label saying 2008. :)
Rebecca January 22, 2017
Where can I find this almond paste? Is it pretty much almond butter?
Posie (. January 22, 2017
Nope! It's quite different -- almond paste is similar to marzipan in texture (although marzipan has much more sugar), and is made with ground almonds and sugar. You can usually find it in most grocery stores in the baking aisle these days, or you can easily order it online.
Karin B. January 22, 2017
Amazon - 7 pounds for about 50 Dollars. I cut it up in 8 ounce pieces and freeze it. You can eat it right from the freezer if you have an almond craving
Posie (. January 22, 2017
Oh my gosh I ALMOST wish you hadn't told me that (except I'm so glad you did). Thanks for the tip! Also I'm going to be doing some more almond paste recipes so stay tuned (the chocolate chip almond paste cookies I posted already are a good one).
Emma N. January 22, 2017
Oh my lord, it literally comes in a tub! A tub of almond paste =D Bring on the almond recipes, Posie! hahaha.