But then they danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” (Jack Kerouac, On the Road)
When you’re planning a wedding and setting up your house, everything is about reaching a point of order, as if there’s some imaginary place in the future where each spoon is in its proper drawer, where there’s not stack of envelopes on the kitchen counter, the laundry is always folded, the floors always vacuumed, soft fresh guest towels nestled in a hall closet.
It’s easy to get carried away, to imagine that bowls and lids and drying racks are really important. It’s easy to start to forget that you (now I mean me) fell in love with a person who was free and just back from Maui and not all that concerned about refurbishing dressers.
As a few wedding gifts arrived this week, we felt so lucky–why would people get us all this stuff? What did we do to deserve all these presents? But we also had this moment where we realized that we were already happy, even without our perfect towels, and that was a good reminder.
In the nature of setting up house, I recently went on a baking kick. I think I was going in search of our “go to” recipes. I found some great ones, but along the way I realized that I rarely make the same thing twice–on to new frontiers! These blueberry muffins, in the spirit of Kerouac’s On the Road, felt very American, and also very appropriate for those last delectable berries before they go all pesticidey. This recipe is adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, and by “adapted” I mean that I added cream cheese filling to an already brilliant recipe. They test the recipes SO many times at America’s Test Kitchen, there’s usually no improving on them. As I’ve mentioned before, though, I can’t keep from changing recipes, it must have to do with my independent spirit, lol.
Blueberry Muffins Stuffed with Blueberry Jam and Cream Cheese, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, All-Time Best Recipes (2012)
Makes 10-12 muffins
Note: The changes I made to this recipe were– 1) Using whole wheat instead of all-purpose flour, as usual; 2) Omitting the, admittedly, very delicious sounding Lemon-Sugar Topping, and; 3) Adding (!) sweetened cream cheese filling. What!
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 ⅛ cups + 1 teaspoon sugar
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 Tablespoons powdered sugar or honey
Oven 425 F
1. Prepare oven: place oven rack in upper-middle slot. Grease 12-cup muffin tin, or use paper cups.
2. Make jam filling: Simmer 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar over medium heat, mashing with spoon or potato masher several times. Stir frequently, until berries have burst and the mixture is thick and reduced to about ¼ cup. (Recipe says 6 minutes, I did more like 10). Let cool to room temperature in separate bowl.
3. Dry ingredients: Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
4. Wet ingredients: Whisk eggs and remaining sugar, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in cooled melted butter and oil. Stir in remaining blueberries.
5. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients using a rubber spatula. Stir only until just combined. Do not overmix! There will be some chunks of dry flour.
6. Meanwhile whisk cream cheese and powdered sugar or honey until smooth.
7. Pour batter into muffin tins, filling about ¾ of the way, then scoop one teaspoon of blueberry jam mixture into each muffin, swirling with a skewer or chopstick. Use a spoon to fill each muffin with desired amount of cream cheese filling–I used about ½ or 1 teaspoon per muffin. Submerge cream cheese delicately, then add remaining batter, like a lid for each muffin. I had some leftover blueberry jam, so I swirled that around in the top layer as well. Don’t worry about being too perfect here–just make sure the cream cheese isn’t pushed all the way to the bottom of the muffin tins.
8. Bake 17-19 minutes, until tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. Cool and serve! Careful–that cream cheese gets hot.