Blueberry Cacao Nib Cinnamon Crumble Muffins

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Once again, I find that apologies are in order for neglecting this blog and everything that comes with it. Life seems to have a way of colliding with itself and filling time with things to do! Summer is the busiest time at the studio, and with a small staff and lots of weddings, I’ve barely had a chance to breathe. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we are almost to the end of the season! Thank goodness; I have to start thinking about holiday cooking…

Today’s post is brought to you by summer fruit and busy mornings. Muffins are the perfect single-serving-sized bites to eat while you’re rushing out the door, or simply when you want to limit yourself to one serving instead of an entire 9×13 pan of blueberry coffee cake (which I may or may not have consumed in one sitting before). They are also incredibly easy to make, they cook consistently, and they bake much faster than coffee cake or banana bread style breads.

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I’ve had a bag of cacao nibs in my cupboard for the longest time, but haven’t had the guts to use them. They can be incredibly bitter if not used right, since they are basically straight cocoa beans after they’ve been shelled, but before they’ve been processed into what most supermarkets would call “chocolate.” I thought a sparing amount in these muffins would be a perfect balance to the sweetness, but would also pair with the acidity of fresh fruit.  They also added a perfect little crunch to enhance the texture.

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Frozen berries work just fine, but I prefer to use fresh fruit in most of my baking when possible. There tends to be a lot more moisture when you de-thaw something than when using it fresh, and I’ve found that especially with blueberries, they keep their form much better throughout the mixing and prep process.

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Now one of the best things about this recipe is the cinnamon crumble top. Seriously, I would eat the tops off of all of them if I had the guts to. I never thought that cinnamon went super great with blueberries, but this definitely changed my mind. It’s not too strong or prevalent, so it’s just the perfect amount to (again) give some diversity and interest to a common breakfast food.

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Blueberry Cacao Nib Cinnamon Crumble Muffins

Batter:
– 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
– 3/4 C brown sugar
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 1/3 vegetable oil
– 1 egg
– 1/2 almond milk (or regular milk)
– 1-2 C fresh blueberries
– 1/2 C cacao nibs (optional)

Topping:
– 1/2 C white sugar
– 1/3 C flour
– 1/4 C butter, melted and cooled
– 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400* and line muffin pan with liners.

1. Mix together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry, as well as the blueberries and cacao nibs, and mix gently.

2. Spoon into muffin tins and sprinkle with topping mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the middle clean. Enjoy with a glass of milk or a cup of fresh coffee.

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