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the best things in life

Recipe: huckleberry muffins

I’m a day late posting because there was that solar eclipse event today. Jeremy and I had too much going on to afford more than a day trip, and as it turns out, making a day trip to Wyoming was going to take more than a day. So we stuck it out at home, which worked rather well for us. We got some heavy cloud build up about 30 minutes in and then it dissipated as we neared the maximum (probably because the reduced energy from the sun was no longer fueling cloud formation) and enjoyed mostly clear views of the eclipse through the end when the clouds reappeared. You can see where I had to shoot through a veil of thin clouds to get some of the earlier phases. I hope many of you were able to view the eclipse in one form or another! I had a much simpler setup than the last solar eclipse I photographed and it was super nice not to have to drive, worry about parking, or worry about the dog.

composite of the eclipse (maximum was 93% here)

jeremy adjusts the binocular projection

using the colander to project dozens of crescents

My parents returned to Virginia last week, but not before we celebrated my mom’s birthday at Flagstaff House in Boulder! I normally like to cook Mom a nice meal for her birthday, but after dining out, my parents requested a “simple” meal the next evening. Simple doesn’t mean it can’t be special. Since mushroom season has been booming and my mom LOVES mushrooms, I served cream of chanterelle soup, porcini and elk sausage tortellini in a beef and porcini brodo (recipe coming soon), and porcini pizza – all with fresh mushrooms I had foraged. I love that I can do that for her.

happy birthday, mom!

the stoke is high because dad has a 3-olive gin martini

The past week has been a blur of activity: mushrooms, bonding with my favorite people in the high country, visits from friends, learning new mountain biking skills, and that eclipse. Fall is merely a suggestion right now, but it’s getting louder each day. I hear children at recess now when the neighborhood used to be silent just last week. There’s a lot more traffic in Boulder as parents bring their freshman offspring to campus. Spots of red color occasionally dot the high meadows – leaves that are preparing for the end of the season. I know what’s coming and I’m giddy thinking about it: chanterelles, huckleberries, fall colors, crisp and cool evenings, and SKI SEASON. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here…

a half dozen moose lounging in the meadow, as they do

still finding elephant heads up in the high country

banjo and erin and a porcini – the start of a VERY good day

sometimes that splash of red in the huckleberry plants is a porcini

the dog days of summer

I’m trying to be optimistic over here. Twila told me that the huckleberries are going in Montana. My patches are running a little late, which can be good if the sun and rains continue to nurture them, or it can be very very very bad if an early winter cuts them off before they can ripen. You never know when you will have a good year or a bad year or a few bad years, which is why I don’t like to use up the previous year’s harvest until I know I have this year’s harvest in the freezer. The same applies to the mushrooms. While my fingers and toeses and noses are all crossed for a good huckleberry season, I’ve got a good recipe to use with fresh or frozen huckleberries. I actually tested two huckleberry muffin recipes four times and finally settled on this adaptation of Deb’s Perfect Blueberry Muffins. The biggest problem is getting muffins to dome nicely at my elevation, but otherwise, I quite love these muffins.

butter, huckleberries, flour, turbinado sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sour cream, lemon zest, sugar, egg

whisk the sugar into the melted butter

stir in the egg, lemon zest, and sour cream

I’m not really sure why my muffins always come out flat-topped, but these baked up a little less flat-topped than usual. I think that might have something to do with the sour cream. It seems to make cake behave much better at my altitude. The recipe is also dead simple, which I think anyone can appreciate. I mean, it’s not like we’re made of spare time, right? The basic method is to blend the wet mix, then blend the dry mix. I toss my berries into the dry mix because I only have access to fresh huckleberries for about 3 weeks of the year if I’m lucky, so I’m using frozen huckleberries. They aren’t too soggy when taken out of the freezer, but I find tossing them in the flour mixture helps to prevent excessive bleeding of berry juices.

blend the dry ingredients together

toss with the huckleberries

fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture

The resulting batter is really halfway between a batter and a dough. It’s thick. I find using a cookie dough scoop works best for filling the muffin tins and keeping muffin batter out of my hair and off my face (but sometimes it still finds its way there). Deb highly recommends topping each muffin with a teaspoon of turbinado sugar for the crunchy top it creates. I did that and found it to be a little too sweet for my taste. Jeremy thought it was fantastic. So you be the judge, but my preference is for a little less sugar on top.

a thick batter/dough

scoop the batter into the tins

top with turbinado sugar


Without a doubt, the flavor and texture of these buttery, fluffy muffins is delightful. I suspect that if you use huckleberries, your experience eating the muffins will be far superior to if you used blueberries. Don’t get me wrong, blueberries are GOOD. Blueberries can even be GREAT. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that they can be as incredible as huckleberries. Take an amazing little cake studded with jewel-colored huckleberries, topped with a sugary crunch, and you have got yourself the best muffin ever.

how could i say no to you?

a pat of butter makes everything nice

the best things in life are made with love

Huckleberry Muffins
[print recipe]
based on Smitten Kitchen’s Perfect Blueberry Muffins

5 tbsps unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
3/4 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups huckleberries, fresh or frozen (use blueberries if no huckleberries)
3 tbsps turbinado sugar (more or less as desired)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line muffin tins with 9-12 papers (depends on size of tins) or grease the tins. Pour the melted butter into a large bow and whisk in the sugar, lemon zest, sour cream (or yogurt), and egg until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until mixed. Toss the berries into the dry ingredients until coated. Fold the dry ingredients and the berries into the wet mixture until just combined. Scoop muffin batter into the lined muffin tins (up to the edge of the tin) and top each muffin with a half teaspoon of turbinado sugar (the original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, but I find it a bit too sweet). Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it. Remove from oven and allow the muffins rest in the pan for another 10 minutes. Makes 9-12 muffins.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

huckleberry scones huckleberry bread pudding huckleberry brioche huckleberry cheesecake ice cream

7 nibbles at “the best things in life”

  1. farmerpam says:

    :) Came here for some sun shots, I knew I could count on you for some great photos, thanks! And happy birthday to your lovely Mom, I also enjoy seeing their smiling faces.

  2. jen says:

    I’ve never had a huckleberry! All your recipes make me want to try them, though! These look divine. Thanks for sharing all your recipes.

  3. Jill Hyde says:

    I’m having a cup of coffee as I read, and oh my, those muffins look delicious! Love how you cross your fingers, toes and nose for foraging!
    We were porch painting in Salida during the eclipse. No traffic here. I especially enjoyed the marvelous shadows. I knew you’d post gorgeous photos!
    Neva girl has the life! xoxo, jill

  4. Kristin says:

    We were just in the totality zone, so we enjoyed the eclipse from our deck too. There was a thin layer of clouds during totality, but we could see the sun through them. The muffins look delicious…I kind of think they look healthier, and less cake-like when they don’t have a big dome. Or maybe that’s just me trying to convince myself.

  5. Sarah says:

    I love your huckleberry recipes! This one looks amazing. Right down to the purple baking cups. Wonderful

  6. Nan says:

    We (my astro-physicist husband and I) drove 10 hours, five each way, to view the totality! Absolutely amazing!! So worth the hassle and the drive. But It’s a far shorter schlep to go from state to state here verses your big country out there. We barely made it a day trip here in the lower mid-west/upper south. But still, amazing!

    Love the berry muffins, in genera, and huckleberry in particular. Hard to source here so my blueberry-loving family will have to settle. Thanks for the great recipes and for sharing a bit of your life with us who long for the high country but are stuck in the lower regions.

  7. jenyu says:

    farmerpam – Thanks! I almost didn’t photograph it at all (partly because of the clouds), but glad to know that others enjoy the shots :) I agree, it’s good to see my folks smiling!

    jen – You’re welcome! And you should definitely try to find some huckleberries to eat straight up. They are amazing!

    Jill – Thanks! Glad you are both enjoying time in Salida and didn’t look directly at the sun! ;) xoxo

    Kristin – Ha! Or maybe it’s you trying to make me feel better for not achieving the dome? So cool that you were in totality!

    Sarah – Thank you :)

    Nan – I think if we didn’t have to worry about Neva, it would have been a no-brainer. But Neva makes everything more complicated ;) xo

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