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Applesauce-Spice Muffins

  Yeah yeah, this is more of a fall treat...with a photo that brings about thoughts of spring.  I don't know quite what I was going for, but I do know that this needed to be prettied up and I had only 15 minutes before the sun went down.  The house was too dark, so I went outside and took pictures of a muffin on a china plate on a wood pile,  in my classy sweats.  No, we don't really have close neighbors thankfully actually.

  Did I mention that it was cold?  Dedication.  Or idiocy, take your pick.  Either way, I like how these came out.  Judge me if you will. 

  But!  These muffins are incredibly simple to whip up, and truly delightful.  My lovely Auntie e-mailed me this in the fall, which is the most notoriously busy time of my life.  Consequently, I didn't get around to making these.  
   So I dug this out from my extremely well-organized recipe pile, and discovered that we had exactly 2 cups of applesauce in the fridge.  And I just so happened to have some leftover cinnamon streusel topping...recipe tweaking ensued.  Done and done.

  I'm pretty sure we've eaten a dozen and a half of these (yields 3 dozen) in the past two days, always a good sign.  Also, if you're strangely afraid of or allergic to nuts, they're very much optional.  I did only 1/3 of a batch with walnuts, to cater to my sisters' tastes.  I'm the only one besides my parents who likes them (walnuts...not the muffins!).
  This is lovely in all its originality, but I'm definitely planning on tweaking it some more...so stick around for that.  (Hint: It will not be any lighter in calories, sorry.  Sort of.)

Applesauce-Spice Muffins
Yield: Makes 2 dozen large, 3 dozen regular, and probably 6-7 dozen minis

Ingredients for the Muffins:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans, optional)
  • confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)

 Ingredients for the Cinnamon Streusel Topping:
(These amounts just cover the 3 dozen regular-sized muffins, adjust as desired)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup rolled instant oats
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°  F. Grease muffin pans or line with paper liners.   

To make the streusel topping, in a small bowl combine flour, cinnamon, oats and sugars, and toss with a fork until well-combined.  Add in the melted butter and mix until all dry ingredients are moistened. 

 Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well-combined and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl between additions as needed.  Beat in the applesauce and spices until well-combined.  Add the dry ingredients and beat well (batter will be thick and lovely).  Stir in the nuts, if using. 

Spoon the batter into the muffin wells, filling each about 2/3 full.  Sprinkle tops with cinnamon streusel.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Mini: 10-12 minutes, regular: 12-14 minutes, large: 15-20 minutes.  Let cool slightly then remove from pans.  Let cool completely or to room temperature on cooling racks.  Sift confectioners' sugar onto muffins just before serving, if desired.  

(Notes: Baked muffins freeze well, just sprinkle with confectioners' sugar when thawed.  The batter also keeps up to 1 week in the refrigerator.)  

Sources: Adapted from my Auntie Angie, originally from her friend Jamie.  Topping adapted from Annie's Eats.