Zesty Brown Butter Cinnamon Breakfast Puffs

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Because nothing says, “Top of the morning to you” like a slightly warm muffin that coats your lips, finger tips, and possibly nose with cinnamon sugar when you take a bite. And even better, I think it might even work as a lip scrub. Delicious!

I’ve been having morning buns on my mind, but the two day turnaround period was just too steep of a hurdle. So I stole the idea of adding orange zest and made these breakfast puffs, which could possibly take a single hour if you’re a somewhat competent morning person. I am not.

Of course, you can also omit the orange zest, but there is something so pleasantly wintry about orange, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In my mind, it also makes it grown up fancy.

The one tricky part of the recipe is the brown butter, and it is as nutty and delicious as every says it is. When I started, I was terrified that I was going to burn it, set off the fire alarm, and then have a terrible row with my roommate, the neighbors, the fire department, etc. But the secret is to just keep stirring. When I first started melting the butter, I was comfuzzled by the thick layer of foam. How was I going to see the brown bits with all this fluff?

But as you keep stirring, the foam dissipates and then you can see the brown specks begin to emerge on the bottom of your saucepan. I want to say it took between 10-15 minutes.

I adapted the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but I reversed some of the directions. For the mini-puffs, you’ll want to make the brown butter first, but I found that with regular puffs, I had more than enough time to brown the butter during the baking and cooling period.

You’ll also want to butter your pans liberally, because some of the puffs stuck. It’s not very obvious with the sugar coating, but I knew and they knew.

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Zesty Brown Butter Cinnamon Breakfast Puffs

MAKES between 9 to 12 standard muffin-size puffs. I got 11.

ADAPTED from Smitten Kitchen.

INGREDIENTS for TOPPING
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

INGREDIENTS FOR PUFFS
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon of orange zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing muffin cups
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (1/2 a cup of milk + 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 12 standard size or 30 miniature muffin cups, or line cups with paper liners.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a medium bowl and set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Mix in 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of buttermilk, repeating again and finishing with the flour mixture. Mix only until combined.

Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling only 3/4 of the way. Bake standard sized muffins for 20 to 25 minutes and miniature muffins for 12 to 14 minutes. Start checking around 15 minutes; I probably could have removed my puffs at the 17-18 minute mark. They were so golden at 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat and continue to cook it, stirring frequently, until brown bits form on the bottom and it smells nutty and heavenly. About ten minutes. Immediately remove from heat and set aside. In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside as well.

When finished, puffs will feel springy to the touch and a tester inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer them in their pan to a wire rack.

As soon as you feel you’re able to pick one up, take your first puff and roll the whole thing in the browned butter. Let any excess butter drip off for a second before gently rolling the butter-soaked cake top in cinnamon-sugar. Transfer puff to wire rack to set and repeat with remaining puffs. Eat warm. Or cold. Just eat them.

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