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Lemon Anise Spice Muffins

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Why I Love This Recipe

was hosting a Craft-ernoon at my house a while back and wanted to serve all my crafty little friends some muffins that were both familiar and a bit more...dramatic. Looking through my cupboards, cardamom immediately jumped out at me as a good pairing with the creamy flavor in basic muffins. Think chai tea with milk while lounging sumptuously on a red velvet sofa, and spicy after-dinner toddies just before you snuggle into bed. The anise was really added as an afterthought. I tasted the batter and decided it needed that something "extra," and was surprised at how the anise ended up stealing the show. A few tablespoons of lemon brought all the ingredients together (Lemon goes with poppy seeds and anise is about the same size as poppy seeds, right?).

The resulting flavor is exactly what I was going for--familiar ingredients put together in an unfamiliar combination resulting in something new. The primary flavors are lemon and anise, but that little touch of cardamom rounds out the edge and highlights the best qualities of both the lemon and the anise. The basic muffin recipe I use for this results in a denser muffin than you might be used to seeing. This makes it a perfect brunch item since the cakey fluffiness is a happy medium that both muffin and scone lovers can enjoy. Note: Other citruses would probably work equally well here--tangerine, orange, Meyer lemon...

Ingredients You'll Need

3 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
scant 1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
2 Tbsp anise seed
3/4c + 1 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp buttermilk
4 oz unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3/4 c + 1 Tbsp sugar
2 large eggs (warmed to room temperature)
2 Tbsp lemon zest (about the zest of 2 medium lemons)


Note: It's important for the butter and eggs to be at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with rack on the middle position. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin liners (or spray with non-stick coating).

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and anise. In a separate measuring cup, combine the milk and butter milk and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand-mixer or using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest to the butter-sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined and no trace of yolk is visible.

With the mixer on low, pour in one-third of the milk mixture and then one-third of the dry ingredients. Continue to alternate between the milk and dry ingredients until all ingredients are incorporated. Your dough should look pale yellow and shaggy.

Divide the batter between the twelve cups and bake until the muffins are firm to the touch and a cake-tester inserted into the center muffin comes out clean--about 25-30 minutes.

The muffins are wonderful on their own, but you can also brush the tops with melted butter and press them into confectioner's sugar for an added treat.

WeightWatchers: Using 1% milk, 12 muffins is 5.5 points per muffin. These make pretty big muffins though, so you can easily make 24 muffins out of the same recipe and still have a healthy muffin to munch on. If you make 24 muffins, each muffin is about 2.75 points each.

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