I’ve always thought of the holidays as the perfect time of year to create memories and traditions my kids will always look forward to in the coming years and long after they leave the house.  The start of Winter Break usually occurs a few days before Christmas and ends just after New Year’s Day.  My husband also takes the same two weeks off so we can just spend the break being together with our visiting family and friends.  It’s a wonderful tradition that I look forward to as much as the kids.

Now that Christmas is officially over and the presents have all been opened, we will spend the rest of the break lounging in comfortable clothes and eating leftovers.  But still, although I may not be baking anymore holiday treats, I do keep the coffee pot full and bake comfort food to feed our house guests (we had nine last night) staying with us during the break.  Good hospitality is my way of creating memorable moments.  Nothing says ‘we are glad you’re here’ more than the aroma of homemade bread and pastries wafting through the house.  I love seeing family and friends anxiously waiting for the baked goods to come out of the oven while sharing stories and laughing.

If you happen to be hosting family this week too, may I suggest baking these wonderful Carrot Muffins?  The recipe comes from James Beard award-winning celebrity chef, Tom Douglas.  His newly released New York Times best-seller, The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle (William Morrow, October 2012), will help you recreate some of the bakeries most popular recipes and other types of comfort food family traditions and memories are built around.  These carrot muffins, which I have made a multiple of times, have already become a favorite of ours and I hope they will become a favorite of yours too.

Recipe: Tom Douglas' Carrot Muffins with Brown Butter and Currants

  • Prep Time: 12 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 18 min(s)
  • Total Time: 30 min(s)
  • Servings: 12

Recipe republished with permission from William Morrow. Head note: The warm, nutty flavor of brown butter is a natural companion to the earthy Sweetness of carrots. Add currants, orange, and spice to create a muffin layered with flavor. First make the brown butter and plump the currants in simmering water so the butter and currants will have time to cool to room temperature while you mea sure out the rest of the ingredients. *special equipment: Muffin Pan, Paper Muffin liners, electric Mixer, 3- ounce ice cream scoop (optional)


    • 1 cup (2 sticks/8 ounces/227 grams) unsalted butter
    • 1⁄2 cup (2 ounces/60 grams) dried currants (Alice says dried cranberries works as a great substitute!)
    • 1⁄2 cup (4 ounces/115 grams) water
    • 1 3⁄4 cups (10 ounces/285 grams) all purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 3⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 3⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 4 large eggs at room temperature
    • 1 cup (7 ounces/200 grams) granulated sugar
    • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons grated orange zest
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 cup (5 ounces/142 grams/about 2 medium) peeled and grated carrot (use the largest holes of a box grater)
    • raw (turbinado), granulated, or crystal sugar and kosher salt as needed for sprinkling


    • 1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
    • 2. To make the brown butter, place the butter in a small saucepan over medium- high heat and cook until the butter solids are browned and smell toasty, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes or a little longer. Watch carefully so the butter does not burn. As the butter browns, the foam rises to the top and dark brown particles stick to the bottom of the pan. As soon as the butter is dark golden brown, pour it into a small bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature. (You can put the bowl in the refrigerator to cool more quickly, but do not let the butter solidify.)
    • 3. Combine the currants with the water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Simmer until the currants are plump, about 10 minutes. Remove the currants from the heat, drain, and transfer to a small bowl to cool to room temperature.
    • 4. Into a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and ginger together twice, then set the dry ingredients aside.
    • 5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, orange zest, vanilla, and salt. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium- high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. The egg mixture should begin to “ribbon” but not hold the ribbon. (In other words, when you lift the whisk, you will start to see a ribbon forming, but it will dissipate quickly.)
    • 6. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Without stirring, place the carrots and currants on top of the egg mixture. Then pour the dry ingredients on top and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold everything together. Finally, fold in the browned butter, combining everything thoroughly but gently.
    • 7. Scoop the muffins into the paper- lined muffin cups, dividing it evenly, using about 3 ounces, or about 1 ⁄3 cup, of batter per muffin.
    • 8. Lightly sprinkle about 1 ⁄4 teaspoon raw sugar and a pinch of kosher salt on top of each muffin. Bake until the muffins are cooked through and golden, about 18 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through the baking time. A wooden skewer inserted into a muffin should come out with a few crumbs clinging but no batter.
    • 9. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack about 10 minutes before unmolding.

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