cranberry-blueberry muffins.

When my personal police officer told me he would be going hunting "for the weekend" a few months ago, I believed him. Well, that was really stupid. Apparently, in hunting language, "for the weekend" actually means "for five days." So I fussed and pouted and heaped on the guilt as best I could - I even wrote him a card wishing him to cry himself to sleep at night, that his arrow would miss that prized buck, and that God would put conviction in his heart for leaving me high and dry all weekend.

Okay, only like, 90% of that is true. But still.

So I figured if he insisted on hanging out in the freezing cold forest in the wee hours of the morning for the chance that something might walk by, he should at least be well fed. Or maybe my intention was to make sure his buddies turned a little green when he showed up with a lasagna, homemade granola, beef jerky (gross, but whatever), apple cider and these muffins. Okay, I'll admit it - I had ulterior motives.

My freezer is bursting with frozen cranberries, an act of desperation to make this cake year round, but I had my heart set on making blueberry muffins - it was not meant to be. The recipe called for two full cups of blueberries and I only had one measly little pint. I'm sorry, folks, but that does not warrant a second trip to the grocery store. So I tossed in a handful of mouth-puckering cranberries and ended up with a patriotic red, white and blue batter. What can I say? Americana runs in my blood.

These muffins are what I think all muffins should be - a soft vanilla scented cake splotched through with bursts of tart cranberries and sweet blueberries, barely sweet and tender enough to coax you into eating the entire muffin and not just the top. Not that I ever do that or anything. Legend has it that Mr. Police Officer ate these by the handful on his trip to Pennsylvania and swished it all down with cold cider, but I think I prefer them with a steaming cup of tea on a crisp fall morning.

This recipe was almost insistent on using crème fraîche for these muffins citing a superior taste and texture. I wish I had the opportunity to try it out, but I have never, ever seen crème fraîche at my grocery store. There was a recipe to make it yourself but it involved buttermilk and an overnight process, and muffins can't wait for all that. Perhaps I'll make it in the future to have it on hand, but in the meantime, you can use sour cream - it's a perfect substitute.

P.S. Shucks, ya'll! This little spot on the web has been nominated for a Mobbie Award (Maryland's Outstanding Blogs) from the Baltimore Sun for the Foodie Category - I'm blushing! So if you dig it and you want to make me feel like a rockstar, you can vote for If You Give a Girl a Cookie once a day for each category (for both the Foodie Category and Best Overall Blog) from Nov. 2 - Nov. 12. You have to register with the Baltimore Sun first, but it's quick, easy and free!

Cranberry-Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Flour

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen bluberries
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners or spray generously with nonstick cooking spray. (The original recipe says only one 12-cup muffin tin - tcchyeah, no chance - it easily fills up 2 dozen muffins cups with some to spare.)

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until thoroughly combined. Slowly whisk in the sugar, butter, milk, crème fraîche or sour cream, and vanilla until well combined. Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold the batter together until they are just combined. Gently fold the berries in until evenly distributed - the batter may be slightly lumpy but resist overmixing to smooth it out. The lumps will disappear during baking.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, it will make enough to fill two standard muffin tins to the brim.  Bake for 25-30 minutes (the original recipe said 30-40, but that seemed like way too long for muffins, mine were baked through at 25 minutes). Let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

These muffins taste best on the day they are made, but can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days.

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