Citrus Almond Muffins are the perfect way to bring a little sunshine to a cold wintery morning. These muffins are made using sugar that has been infused with citrus flavor for an added flavor punch. The recipe also includes olive oil instead of butter for a bit lighter texture.
Citrus Almond Muffins are light and bright but also sweet and satisfying!
The idea for these muffins came from our trip to Mexico last month. I know, I know. You’re probably thinking that muffins and Mexico have absolutely nothing to do with each other. You may be a little bit right but just hear me out.
Chris and I had a 7-course tasting menu at a restaurant in San Miguel that frankly wasn’t our favorite meal there with the exception of the second to last course, the palette cleanser of all f*cking courses. For the 6th course, the restaurant served a mandarin orange sorbet with candied sunflower seeds. It was incredibly simple but also oh-so-delicious.
The flavors were harmonious. Sweet, sour and nutty flavors were all so well balanced, making the perfect bite. This flavor combination of nuts and citrus was stuck in my head from that point on.
Fast forward a few weeks, Chris and I then attended another tasting menu dinner, but this time it was here in Oklahoma City. This meal was outstanding, and I could have written a whole post of several of the menu items, but to stay on point here, one of the courses was a lemon custard with smoked almonds.
Again with the citrus and nuts! This time I was determined to not let this inspiration flavor combination escape me. So I started brainstorming how to use citrus and nuts together in a recipe that wasn’t an exact replica of the dishes I had.
The idea finally came to mind that these bright, fresh and earthy flavors would be amazing for breakfast! Citrus Almond Muffins are an awesome expression of this flavor combination.
I chose to use both lemons for their sharp, acidic quality and mandarin oranges for their sweet, floral notes. The combination of lemons and mandarin oranges with the toasted almonds is subtle but so delightful.
The recipe includes some other somewhat unique ingredients for muffins: olive oil and cornmeal. I tried this recipe with butter, and the muffins were a bit too heavy in texture. The olive oil preserves the light feel I wanted from the recipe. The cornmeal not only gives the muffins a lovely yellow color but also a nice texture.
Last, I finished the muffins with a simple lemon glaze to emphasize the citrus notes and bring a little added sweetness.
I don’t know about where you live, but this winter has been quite cold and gray here in Oklahoma so these muffins are a welcome ray of light. Citrus Almond Muffins will bring a little sunshine to your morning routine no matter what the season.
Give this easy recipe a try and let me know what you think in the comments section below!
Microplanes are the only choice when it comes to a fine grater. Perfect for zesting, this tool is a must in your kitchen.
Citrus Almond Muffins
- 1/2 C white sugar
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange mandarin or navel
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 C honey
- 1/2 C olive oil
- 1/4 C whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1.5 C all purpose flour
- 1/2 C cornmeal
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 C sliced and toasted almonds*
- 1/2 C powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 lemon
- 2-4 Tb whole milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
To make citrus-infused sugar
- Before starting the recipe, you’ll need to make citrus-infused sugar. This step really makes a big difference in the citrus flavor of the finished muffins. I’ve found the citrus to be a little puny when I didn’t use an infused sugar. Don’t worry though, the sugar can sit for as little as an hour and still be effective.
- Zest 1 orange and 1 lemon with a Microplane (if you don’t have one, check out the link above) and add the zest to 1/2 C of white sugar and mix well with a fork until the zest is evenly distributed throughout the sugar. Set aside for a minimum of an hour of up to 48 hours.
To make muffins
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin pan very well with baking spray or line the pan with liners. I like to forego the liners so I get the lovely golden brown edges that will stick to the liner if you use them, but no doubt they make cleanup much easier.
- Add the eggs, infused sugar, and honey to a large mixing bowl. Using a stand or hand mixer, whip the mixture with a paddle attachment for about one minute until the mixture turns a pale yellow color and smooth texture. Turn off the mixture and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Turn the mixer back on to medium-low and slowly drizzle in the olive oil with the mixer on. Once all the oil has been combined, turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl again.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients including flour, cornmeal, baking powder and soda, and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside. Juice the lemon and the orange into the same liquid measuring cup used to measure the olive oil. Be sure to remove any seeds.
- Add the vanilla and almond extracts to the juices. Last, add the milk and stir to combine. You don’t want to leave the citrus and milk sitting for too long or the mix will get a little clumpy. Just have everything ready to combine, and it won’t be a problem.
- Turn the mixer back on to low speed and add a third of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. As soon as you can’t see any dry ingredients in the mix, add half of the citrus juice and milk. Once the liquid has been absorbed, add another third of the dry. Then the last half of the wet, and finally, the last third of the dry. This technique of starting and finishing with the dry ingredients is common in cake recipes to ensure the ingredients are well combined without overmixing.
- Turn the mixer off as soon as the last batch of dry ingredients is incorporated. Using a spatula, scrape down the bowl and finish mixing by hand. Once the batter is smooth, add the sliced almonds and fold them gently into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Fill each cup up 3/4 of the way. The muffins will rise quite a bit so don’t fill to the top. Bake for 17-19 minutes or until the edges are browned and the top of the muffins are firm to the touch.
- Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before glazing. The warmer the muffins are, the more the muffins will absorb the glaze. If the muffins are cooled completely, the glaze will sit on top as pictured.
To make the glaze
- Add 1/2 C powdered sugar to a small mixing bowl. Zest the remaining lemon and add all the zest to the bowl. Next, juice the lemon into the powdered sugar, being sure keep the seeds out of the mix.
- Using a whisk, combine the sugar and lemon juice. Add the whole milk 1 Tb at a time, whisking well after each addition. Stop adding milk when you reach a pourable consistency that still has some viscosity. It should be the thickness of molasses or a thick syrup. If the mixture gets too thin, just add a touch more powdered sugar. Last, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
- Drizzle the muffins with lemon glaze and enjoy!