Blueberry Season + Muffins = Win

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Last week, my fiancee's father returned from a trip to Northern Florida with a veritable bushel of wild blueberries purchased from a roadside vendor. These things were amazing -- monstrously big, ripe, and practically bursting with juice. For the next few days, we had blueberries on everything: in our cereal for breakfast, blended with banana into smoothies, and turned into fab, rustic blueberry muffins.

I particularly loved the muffins because they were unlike normal blueberry muffins. Nabbing a recipe from my favorite tattered cookbook -- the Internets -- the muffins we made came out crisp and chewy on the outside, with a soft, fluffy center. This was thanks to the ultra-thick batter, which was more like cookie dough than anything else. And utilizing a few tricks, the blueberries inside the muffins stayed whole, leading to confections that serendipitously exploded with juice when you bit into them. Can you say, "explode with juice?"

Since right now is perfect time for blueberry perfection, you should be able to pick up amazingly ripe berries from your local grocer. Those blue globes go great in everything from salads to pancakes, but I have a soft spot for these muffins. We added a secret ingredient to them that's sure to go great with the berries: Goat cheese. And if you recreate this recipe, you also get the added bonus of licking the bowl a la chocolate chip cookies (thanks to the thick batter). That alone makes it worth the effort.

Rustic Blueberry Muffins
Makes 10 muffins 5 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup of soft goat cheese

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest (a few drops of lemon extract works as well)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries

To start with, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Creme the sugar and butter together in a large metal bowl -- I like to use an electric or stand-up mixer, but if you don't have one, good ol' fashioned elbow grease works fine. Add the egg and mix thoroughly, then add the lemon zest, sour cream, and goat cheese and mix again. Pass the flour, salt, powder, and soda through a fine mesh sifter, then pour about half of the dry ingredients into the batter. Mix thoroughly, then add your blueberries. Two tricks for the berries: To keep the blueberries from crushing as you mix them, make sure they're very cold -- you can even freeze them slightly, which won't cause any problems in the cooking process. Secondly, if you roll your blueberries around in flour prior to adding them, they won't burst as much during cooking! You'll get rich, full berries that explode with juice. Yay!

Finally, add the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix until the batter comes together into a thick dough.

Prep a muffin tray with non-stick spray, then scoop in your batter, evenly distributing it so as to make 10 muffins. Note - most muffin recipes will tell you not to fill the sections more than 3/4 of the way full, because the dough will rise as it cooks. But unlike muffin "batter," I found this dough has less of a tendency to go nuts and spread all over. So make mutant muffins if you want -- it's all in good fun!

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until the tops are nice and crusty. For serving suggestions, I recommend splitting the muffins in the middle, toasting then, and patting with a little bit of butter. A cup of coffee on the side does quite nicely too. Enjoy!

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.

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