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Cranberry-Orange-Pecan Muffins



I had an idea last month for a new muffin recipe that incorporates some of the flavors of the holidays. I took my recipe for tart cherry pecan muffins with vanilla butter, and started tweaking. Here's what I came up with:


Gather up the following:

2 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

2/3 cup granulated sugar

8 Tablespoons (1/4 pound) melted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 oranges, zested and juiced 

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 tsp salt 

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and sorted to remove any icky ones

1 cup toasted pecan halves ( you can chop them afterwards if you prefer smaller pieces)

Medium size mixing bowl and big spoon for stirring

2 regular size muffin pans

Oven-proof skillet or baking sheet for toasting nuts

Set your oven to 400F, either grease your muffin pans, or line them with cupcake/muffin liners and set aside. 

Zest and juice the oranges, strain out the seeds and pulp, and set the juice aside. You are not going to use all of the orange juice you got from juicing the oranges for this recipe, so someone is going to get a small glass of freshly squeezed orange juice when you make these. I've made double batches of these the last two times I've made these, so please don't stress if it looks like I have more zest or juice than you will have. I took pictures from different batches I made and I'm not sure if these are all from the same batch or not.


If you look closely, you'll see that I haven't strained the juice yet. I like to go through the seeds/pulp mixture, fish out the seeds and save the pulp to add it to the muffin batter for extra fiber. Be sure to measure out the juice without the pulp if you choose to incorporate the pulp in the recipe. The recipe works either way, it's your choice.

Melt the butter and add the zest to the bowl with melted butter.

Take the pecans and place them in a single layer in your oven-proof skillet or baking sheet and place in oven. Bake them just until they start to color and smell like toasty-nutty-goodness. Be sure and shake the pan every few minutes so they cook evenly. It takes about 8 minutes in my oven, but ovens do vary, so watch and make a note of how long it takes for your oven. Place the toasted nuts in the bowl with the melted butter and orange zest. The hot nuts will make a sizzling sound when they hit the butter, so don't be freaked out that something bad is going on in your bowl. 

I forgot to get pictures of each ingredient going in the bowl, so to the zest, butter, and nuts lounging in your bowl, add the following and stir well after each addition:

Sour cream


1/4- 1/3 cup of the reserved orange juice ( Put in 1/4 cup of juice for now, and add more at the end if the batter looks too dry.)

Baking powder

Baking soda


Eggs ( We are adding the eggs at this point, as raw eggs added directly after hot nuts could possibly end up with tiny bits of cooked egg in the batter. We obviously don't want that.)

Vanilla extract


Washed and sorted cranberries


After everything is combined, place in your prepared muffin pans:


This batch was done with only 1/4 cup of the orange juice so it is a thicker batter. I made a batch this weekend with 1/3 cup orange juice so the batter was much thinner, but it baked up just fine and had more orange flavor.

Bake the muffins at 400F for 17-20 minutes or until lightly browned. I like to bake one pan at a time on the middle oven shelf. If you choose to bake both pans at once, open the oven at the halfway point and switch the positions of your muffin pans to help get more even results.


Okay, because of the cranberries, these can be a little tart when you bite into a whole cranberry. If you like that sort of thing, then just warm these up, slap some butter on them and eat. If they are too tart for your liking, then make up a quick batch of vanilla butter.

Vanilla Butter

8 Tablespoons softened butter (1/4 pound)

3-4 Tablespoons powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

These amounts are approximations, don't stress about it, just do it to where it tastes good to you. 

Place the softened butter in a mixing bowl and whip until fluffly. Beat in the vanilla extract and sugar to taste.

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of these muffins with vanilla butter on them, but here's one with some orange butter from the trial run of these muffins. Orange butter is just whipped butter with orange zest, orange juice, and powdered sugar to taste. 


Happy holidays to you and yours.


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