If you have yet to travel into the beautiful world of brown butter, I highly suggest you make this recipe the first stamp in your passport.
Do it soon though, or it'll quickly ruin your 2012 diet plan.
Cinnamon Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs
makes 30-34 mini puffs
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing muffin cups
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 12 standard size or 30 miniature muffin cups, or line cups with paper liners.
Prepare coatings: In a small saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat and continue to cook it, stirring frequently, until brown bits form on the bottom and it smells nutty and heavenly. Immediately remove from heat and set aside. In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside as well.
Prepare puffs: Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a medium bowl and set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Mix in 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of buttermilk, repeating again and finishing with the flour mixture. Mix only until combined.
Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling only 3/4 of the way. Bake standard sized muffins for 20 to 25 minutes and miniature muffins 12 to 14 minutes. When finished, muffins will feel springy to the touch and a tester inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer them in their pan to a wire rack.
As soon as you fell you're able to pick one up, take your first puff and roll the top and upper edges in the browned butter. Don't be afraid to pick up the browned butter solids at the bottom of the saucepan; they're the dreamiest part. Let any excess butter drip off for a second before gently rolling the butter-soaked cake top in cinnamon-sugar. If you roll too firmly, or have too much wet/not absorbed butter on top, the sugar can clump off, which is heartbreaking. Transfer puff to wire rack to set and repeat with remaining puffs. Eat warm.
For an even more indulgent, doughnut-like puff: Make an extra two tablespoons of the browned butter and roll the whole puff in it and the cinnamon sugar.
Do ahead: Puffs are best within hours after they are baked. They can be made in advance and stored in a freezer bag until needed, too. Simply spread them out on a baking tray and reheat them until warm in the oven.
Seriously. Heaven. Since it's New Years Day, I figured I should definitely follow Deb's note for a 'more indulgent' puff and made the extra butter. I'm not sure why you wouldn't always do this (hello... it's browned butter, people), but I'm sure it does help with those few extra calories. I did have more than enough sugar-cinnamon, but ran short on the butter, even with the extra two tablespoons. Other than that, the recipe was easy, delicious, and will most certainly be making a repeat appearance.
Enjoy and Happy New Year!