Meyer lemons seem to be everywhere these days. Splashed across food blogs, heaped into bins at the market, even tucked unexpectedly into a ridiculously delicious squid salad that I ate on Friday night (at a restaurant that was, in a word, perfect). And a trio of the small, sunny lovelies were tucked into a bowl full of citrus on our kitchen counter, throwing off their gentle perfume, for almost a week before I figured out just how I would use them.
I considered letting them stand in for standard lemons in a bundt cake or a tart or lbars, but in the end I settled on a breakfast option: muffins. I hadn’t made muffins in a while and I’ll tell you why: Kevin’s been sneaking one into his order at the shop across the street, when he goes to pick up coffee on Sunday mornings. And these little treats he smuggles home are so good I just hadn’t bothered trying my own for a couple months.
Until yesterday. That’s when I put my homemade muffin hiatus to an end and put my meyer lemons to work. I did take a couple tricks from the Vella muffins I’ve come to love—I used a sturdy, basic recipe and punched it up with the faint spice of fresh and ground ginger and the sweet zip of meyer lemon juice and zest. I also tucked a tiny nugget of chilled cream cheese into the center of each muffin (another Vella trick, which lends a creamy tang to each bite) and topped each muffin with a spicy-sweet sprinkle of sugar, cinnamon and ground ginger.
The result was a moist, fragrant muffin that has me wondering how I went so long without homemade muffins. And how I let those meyer lemons languish on the counter for so long! What about you all? Have you been making use of meyer lemons while they briefly grace us with their presence? How so?
Meyer Lemon-Ginger Muffins, Stuffed with Cream Cheese
For the Muffins:
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 equal pieces
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon meyer lemon, zest
2/3 cup plain yogurt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed meyer lemon juice
2 teaspoons freshly-grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla
For the Topping:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Preheat oven to 375. Line 12-cup muffin tin with muffin/cupcake liners. Place the cream cheese in the freezer.
In one large bowl, whisk together the flour through lemon zest. In another large bowl, whisk together the yogurt through vanilla. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.
Fill each of the 12 muffin liners about 1/3 full. Nestle one piece of the chilled cream cheese into each partially-filled muffin cup. Cover the cream cheese pieces in each muffin cup with the remaining batter.
Mix the sugar, cinnamon and ginger to create the topping. Sprinkle the mixture evenly between the 12 muffins.
Bake 17 to 19 minutes, until puffed and golden. Transfer to a wire wrack to cool.