I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and loved ones! Just in case you have some leftover cranberries laying around from this weekend or maybe plan to purchase some for Christmas, I have an idea for them! These lighter cranberry and almond muffins are a great way to use up those extra berries and also look so festive as we head into Christmas time!
The base of this recipe was taken from this Blueberry Breakfast Cake I published this summer. What makes this recipe special is the addition of buttermilk into the batter. I normally don’t have buttermilk on hand, so I always “sour” my own milk. To do this, you take half of a tablespoon and vinegar and mix it with the milk. So simple! Then I let it sour while I prepare the remaining ingredients.
The first thing you’ll need for this recipe is fresh cranberries. I don’t know if you have ever tried a raw fresh cranberry, but I do NOT recommend it. They are very, very tart, and not very pleasant to my palate. That’s why whenever you see a recipe for cranberry sauce, it contains a ton of sugar. Cranberry sauce definitely needs it to balance out that tart flavor.
So, balancing the tartness of the cranberries was a big priority in this recipe. I took a few routes to help balance out the sweetness:
- Sugar. Of course, this is absolutely necessary to have in a muffin batter anyway, but you definitely need it with cranberries.
- Balanced Amount of Cranberries. At least, in my opinion, you can’t put as many cranberries in a muffin as you can blueberries. So I had to play with the amount to get it just right. I settled on just a cup!
- Rolling Fresh Cranberries in Sugar. This is a little trick I thought of when looking at my blueberry cake recipe. To keep the blueberries from turning the batter blue, you roll them in a bit of flour. I decided to do that with the cranberries to help prevent the color change but also to give a little extra sweetness.
- Complimentary Flavor. I began to search for a flavor that would complement the cranberries well and settled on almonds. I love almond flavoring any time of the year, but I think it is especially festive during the holidays.
To add the almond flavor to the muffin batter, I used almond extract. This is readily available in the baking section of your local grocery store, and it’s a good idea to pick up a bottle to have on hand to help with holiday recipes. I replaced the vanilla extract with almond and it provides a delicious hint of almond to the batter.
Instead of using almonds in the batter (almonds aren’t the lightest in macros), I sprinkled the tops of the muffins with slivered almonds before they baked. It adds a little crunch to the otherwise soft muffins.
The last thing I did to add almond flavor to the muffins is making a sweet little glaze. I took just 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, some milk, and 1/2 tsp of almond extract and whisked it together to make a sweet topping for the muffins. And who doesn’t love a glaze on their baked goods?
To enjoy one of these muffins, the macros are rounded to 1F/36C/4P, or 168 calories. Just for curiosity sake, I calculated the macros for a similar muffin and they wound up to be 14F/39C/6P or 308 calories per muffin. This recipe saves almost half the calories and SO much fat. I promise you aren’t sacrificing taste either! The only thing that is different is the texture, but I personally think it’s worth it to save the fat grams and calories. If I’m serving this for breakfast, I’ll pair these muffins with egg whites, turkey bacon, or even non-fat Greek yogurt to add some extra protein.
Lighter Cranberry & Almond Muffins
- 8 g distilled white vinegar
- 110 g 1 % milk
- 125 g Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
- 210 g sugar, divided (1 cup + ~1 Tablespoon for coating the cranberries)
- 1 egg (or 1 tsp oil + 2 T water + 1 tsp baking powder to replace the egg)
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 210 g flour (1 and 3/4 cup)
- 100 g fresh cranberries
- 12 g sliced almonds
- 30 g powdered sugar (1/4 cup)
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 T milk
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin by spraying it with cookin spray. Set aside.
- Combine the vinegar and milk in a small bowl. Set aside, and allow to "sour" for a few minutes.
- Combine Greek yogurt and sugar until evenly mixed. Add in the egg and almond extract and mix until combined.
- Combine cranberries with 10 g of sugar in a small bowl. Coat cranberries with sugar and then set aside.
- To the wet ingredients, add 105 g of flour (half), baking powder, and salt. Stir until completely combined, but do not over mix. Then add milk and vinegar mixture and remaining flour (105 g). Stir until completely combined, but do not over mix. Fold in cranberries.
- Divide batter into the 12 muffin tins. Sprinkle a gram of sliced almonds over each muffin. Place in preheated oven. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Then, without taking the muffins out of the oven, turn down the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for an addition 10-11 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
- While the muffins are cooling, whisk together the glaze ingredients until completely smooth. Drizzle over completely cool muffins. If freezing some of the muffins, do not glaze until ready to serve.