Sunday, October 21, 2007


We're getting ready to take a little trip, and I'm trying to use up all the fridge items that are nearing their expiration dates. I saw a recipe on that intrigued me. It was Caramel Macchiato Chocolate Chip Cookies. I looked up Caramel Macchiato and found that it's a Starbucks drink of steamed vanilla milk with a shot of espresso that they top with a caramel drizzle that floats on down through the drink. The drink has been around for more than 10 years, it's just that I don't go to Starbucks so I never knew about it. Cookie Madness also made mention of a new product, Kraft's caramel bits, which were used in the chocolate chip cookie recipe. My wheels started turning. I'm on a muffin mission, so I started thinking of Caramel Macchiato Muffins. But I wanted something else in them -- toasted pecans. And that's what I made. They are sooooooo good. If you want to be truer to the Starbucks drink, then use espresso powder instead of coffee powder.

Caramel-Pecan Macchiato Muffins

INGREDIENTS: 1/2 cup broken pecans
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour, aerated before measuring
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup caramel bits
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
6 oz. container coffee yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. instant coffee powder (I use Folger's Decaf)
2 Tbsp. coffee brandy (I use Samosa)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS: Have all ingredients at room temperature before you begin. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast pecans in pie plate for 5-7 minutes, till they give off their aroma. Watch them closely so they don't burn. Remove from oven and let cool. Microwave butter on high in a medium mixing bowl, for about 45 seconds - 1 minute, only till almost melted. Let butter continue to melt after you remove it. Prepare muffin tins by greasing and flouring or spraying with flour-added non-stick cooking spray. For coated pans, just spray with non-stick cooking spray. Raise oven heat to 500 degrees F.

Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl: flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder and 1/2 cup caramel bits. (Lightly spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level off with spatula or knife. Use a light hand with measuring.) Add the somewhat cooled pecans. Stir well with whisk till well combined.

In the medium bowl, whisk the egg and yolk into the somewhat cooled melted butter till smooth. Add the yogurt. Whisk again till smooth. Add the milk, coffee powder, brandy, and vanilla and whisk again till smooth. Make a well in dry ingredients and add liquids all at once, whisking till just barely combined. Batter will be thick, but light and spongy.

Put 1/4 cup batter into each of 14-16 muffin cups. Press remaining caramel bits into tops of muffins. Place muffins in oven and immediately reduce heat to 350. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or till toothpick inserted in center of muffins return with just a few crumbs. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove muffins to rack to finish cooling completely.

Before serving, top each muffin with caramel sauce: Microwave 1/4 cup caramel bits with 1 Tbsp. Half and Half on high at 20 second intervals, stirring each time, till mixture bubbles up and softens. Add more Half and Half if needed to make a thin sauce. Drizzle over cooled muffins.

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