Muffins hold a special place in my heart—several years ago I told my famous “love muffin” story on this blog, and every so often, have shared another version of the original. I make a muffin for nearly every holiday, going with the flow and flavors of the season. To me they are a special gift—the personal, just-the-right-size cake, yes? You can make them super healthy with bran and protein powders, or gluten-free for special diets or—in the case of this muffin—extra special with fresh seasonal fruits and extravagant splurges.

This muffin is a good example of perfect flavor balance—there’s a tart burst of cranberry against sweet floral perfume of vanilla and orange in every bite. To take this confection over the top (Often the point of a holiday cake, yes?), there is the unexpected splash of Grand Mariner…Fa La La La La!

I often give this muffin as a gift, as fresh as I can deliver them. They will keep several days in the frig, and heat up nicely in just a few minutes in the oven. The reheat actually creates a lovely sugar crust on the top that is my favorite part. So if you are still hunting for that last gift, hunt no further…let’s get baking!

[amd-yrecipe-recipe:179]

While these muffins are, at least in my opinion, extra special, they are not extra sweet. So if you are thinking “cupcake”, think again. They are rich, well balanced and incredibly floral, which—again in my opinion—is way better than sugary sweet.

If you are ready to embark on more holiday baking, try my Raspberry Thumbprints or cherry almond muffins, both of which are gluten free. Or maybe you are in the mood for my gingerbread Christmas Cake—our family favorite. However you sweeten up your holiday, may you enjoy peace and joy in every bite.