Cider Doughnut Muffins have all of the cozy flavors of a good doughnut—thanks to reduced apple cider, cinnamon, and nutmeg—with a lot less work.
If I had to pick just one Fall treat to enjoy from the first day of the season to the last, Apple Cider Doughnuts would win, hands down. ‘Tis the season where pumpkin spice everything reigns supreme, I know, but there’s nothing in the world like warm cider doughnuts. Lightly-spiced and enrobed in a light, crunchy coating of cinnamon-sugar, willpower doesn’t stand a chance in their presence. In a perfect world, my kitchen would be equipped with some sort of “Doughnuts on Demand” button so things like pajamas and uncoiffed hair wouldn’t stand between me and doughnut glory. Alas, such conveniences don’t exist. What’s a girl to do for a last-minute craving on a Sunday morning? Make Cider Doughnut Muffins!
I grew up just five minutes from a wonderful little cider mill that not only pressed its own cider, but churned out a steady supply of delicious fresh doughnuts daily. That is, until the mill closed (like my favorite deli; another college-break craving Fail). New Jersey has no shortage of orchards and farm stores that sell cider doughnuts, so I wasn’t at a total loss, but they were no longer seconds from my doorstep. I’ve made them at home a number of times, which is fun, but between the rolling, cutting, and deep-frying, they can be a bit of a process. As much as I love to cook, sometimes, I’m just in the mood for something a little simpler.
After stumbling across a recipe for Cider Doughnut Muffins on the Yankee Magazine website this past weekend, I have to say that I’m disappointed I didn’t discover the concept sooner! The muffins had all of the cozy flavors of a good doughnut—thanks to reduced apple cider, cinnamon, and nutmeg—with a lot less work. (Not to mention the calories. If I ate as many fried cider doughnuts as my tastebuds would approve, my wardrobe would stage a revolt.) The original recipe calls for standard-sized muffin tins, but I prefer them as mini-muffins. They come out kind of like doughnut holes, and the cake to cinnamon-sugar topping ratio is much more reminiscent of an actual cider doughnut.
Will these muffins totally replace traditional cider doughnuts in my heart? Probably not, but they were a delicious treat that I’ll definitely make again when I can’t get to the orchard or don’t want to deal with the work of frying at home. (My family and friends enjoyed them so much that by the end of the next day, the only proof I had of their existence was my catalog of photos and a trail of cinnamon-sugar on the countertop.) They’re great for a weekend breakfast, as a part of a Fall brunch buffet, or an after school snack for the kids. With a batch of these in the oven, maybe “Doughnuts on Demand” isn’t such a crazy thought afterall!
Cider Doughnut Muffins
Adapted from Yankee Magazine (September, 2014)
For the Muffins
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the Cinnamon-Sugar Topping
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Make the Muffins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, with rack in the center. Grease or lightly spray mini muffin tins (enough for 36 muffins).
In a small saucepan, bring apple cider to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer until cider is reduced to 1 cup, about 20 minutes, lowering heat as needed to maintain a steady bubble. Remove from heat and cool.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed until incorporated. Add vanilla and mix to combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the batter in three additions, alternating with the cooled, reduced cider (start and end with flour). Gently beat just to combine after each addition, scraping the bowl as needed. Divide batter evenly between 36 mini muffin cups.
Bake 10-12 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer pans to wire racks and cool for about 5 minutes.
Make the Cinnamon-Sugar Topping
In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon.
After the baked muffins have cooled for a few minutes (enough to handle), lightly brush the tops, sides, and bottoms with melted butter. Immediately roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat. Shake off excess and serve.*
*I enjoyed these muffins most the day they were baked, but they were still very good on the second day. I found that the tops became a little soggy upon storage from having been brushed in butter, but this was easily remedied by popping them into the oven (350 degrees) for a few minutes, just to lightly warm.