Last week I was planning on baking some muffins to ship to my grandmother, and the recipe I made totally flopped.  It had been a few weeks since I had sent her something though, so I was determined to get a package of goodies out to her within a couple of days.  I brainstormed a bit and remembered this recipe which I have wanted to try ever since I purchased Dorie’s cookbook.  This was perfect because I already had all the ingredients on hand (you probably do too!)  This is a very no-fuss muffin – just a basic muffin with streusel topping, flavored with allspice.  Dorie lists the lemon zest as optional but I think it was a unique counterpoint to the flavor of the allspice, so I would not recommend skipping it.  My grandma enjoyed them, as did the rest of us who sampled the leftovers.  I think these could also be great with some dried fruit mixed in, like raisins or cranberries.  Combined with some fresh fruit and yogurt, these would make a fantastic breakfast.  Enjoy!

Allspice Crumb Muffins
For the streusel:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
5 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

For the muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Center a rack in the oven.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.  

To make the streusel topping, put the flour, brown sugar and allspice in a small bowl.  Sift together with a fork.  Add the bits of cold butter and toss to coat, then use your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until you’ve got irregularly shaped crumbs.  Set aside in the refrigerator.  

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice and salt.  Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps.  In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla together until well combined.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently but quickly stir to blend with the whisk or a rubber spatula; the batter will be somewhat lumpy.  Stir in the lemon zest.  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Sprinkle some streusel over each muffin, then use your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes.  Remove the muffins to the wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Source: adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan