Mexican vanilla would make these sublime from BetterBaking.com - they are getting used to my creative vanilla recipes at this point!). This recipe makes tiny, not too sweet, pop-in-in-your mouth, mini muffins that are somewhere between a sweet muffin and a cake texture. If you also have ambrosial vanilla paste to swirl in, all the better. If not, scrapings from a vanilla bean (gourmet shops often carry them) will do. If you want to try this ASAP, you can use all-purpose flour; otherwise spring for the cake flour for yet an even more tender muffin.
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cups cake flour *
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, preferably Mexican vanilla
1 cup warm milk
Scrapings of a vanilla bean or, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla paste
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract **
* stir the pastry flour before scooping and measuring
** For the syrup, believe it or not, a heavier, artificial vanilla would work well – for that emphatic vanilla taste but all natural is always, better of course.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray 24 mini muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray and/or paper liners or 14-16 regular muffins cups. Place on the parchment lined baking sheet.
In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well blended. If using vanilla bean, cream the scrapings of the bean in with butter.
Blend in eggs and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients and add milk as batter is getting mixed, on slow speed of mixer. Scrape down the bowl often to make sure al is evenly incorporated. By hand, fold in vanilla bean paste.
Spoon into preparing muffin cups, filling each ¾ full. Bake until lightly golden brown, 17-20 minutes for little muffins, 20-24 minutes for larger ones, or until muffins spring back when lightly pressed with fingertips.
Meanwhile, for the Vanilla Syrup, gently boil sugar, corn syrup and water for 5 minutes. Cool to almost room temperature and stir in vanilla. Brush each muffin with vanilla syrup twice and let stand.
Makes 24 small muffins or 14-16 larger ones.
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