1/4cup (1/2 stick)unsalted butterat room temperature
1cupvanilla sugar (see recipe in notes) or plain sugar
2teaspoonvanilla extract (double if not using vanilla sugar)
2large eggsat room temperature
2 1/2cupsfresh cranberriescoarsely chopped
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a muffin pan and line with parchment paper muffin cups.
Make the Spiced Sugar
In a small bowl, mix together the first quantity of sugar, the ground cloves, and the cinnamon.
Set this to the side to sprinkle on the vanilla-cranberry muffins later.
Make the Muffin Batter
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg, twice, in a large bowl. Set this to the side.In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and sour cream until smooth. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, blend together the butter, vanilla-sugar (or plain sugar), and vanilla extract on high speed until light and fluffy (about 7 minutes). Scrape down the bowl often during mixing.
Add the eggs to the mixture, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Blend on medium speed for 1 minute after you scrape down the bowl.
Add 1/3 of the flour mix to the bowl and blend on low speed just until the flour has been mixed into the batter. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.Add half of the milk mixture. Blend on low just until the milk is incorporated into the batter. Scrape down the bowl once again.
Continue adding the dry and wet ingredients, alternating each as before. Be sure to scrape down the bowl after each addition, and mix just until absorbed.
Fold in the cranberries using a large rubber spatula. Stir just until the cranberries are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Use a number 16 scoop (or a 1/4 measuring cup) to scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan.Sprinkle a generous pinch of the spiced sugar topping onto each of the muffins' surfaces.
Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are a nice, golden brown and they spring back when lightly pressed with a finger.
Once the muffins are baked, remove them from the oven and allow the pan to cool down for 5 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan.
You can enjoy them while warm, or allow them to cool completely.
The muffins will freeze magnificently for up to two months. Pack them into a freezer storage bag and freeze them for later. Thaw at room temperature 24 hours prior to eating.
To use dried cranberries, reduce the sugar in the batter to 3/4 cup.
If you prefer to use plain sugar, just double the amount of vanilla extract originally called for.
Vanilla Sugar (optional): Make 1 week in advance:
Split 1 vanilla bean in half lengthwise.
Fill a glass mason jar with 2 cups of granulated sugar. Push the split bean into the sugar, making sure to completely submerge the bean in the sugar. Cover the jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Allow the sugar to sit for 1 week for maximum flavor. Use as needed (no need to remove the bean).
Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Break or sift any large clumps of sugar prior to using.