Butterscotch Crumb Muffins

Butterscotch Crumb Muffins

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening (such as Crisco),
    cold and cut into 4 pieces
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 cup butterscotch baking chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position oven rack in center of the oven. Line muffin tins with papers or grease and flour muffin tins.

In a large bowl, combine flour and brown sugar until no lumps remain. Add shortening and cover with the flour/sugar mixture. Use a pastry blender or your fingertips to gently combine until the mix resembles coarse bread crumbs. (This may also be done in the food processor using a few short pulses of power. Do not let it run or the shortening will melt.)

Reserve 1/2 cup of the flour/sugar mixture and set aside to use as the crumb topping.

To the remaining flour/sugar mixture, add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Using a fork, combine well. Add buttermilk and beaten eggs. Using a large spoon, mix briskly until thick and batter takes on a sheen. Fold in butterscotch chips.

Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of reserved crumb topping mixture over the top of each muffin. Gently tamp down topping into batter.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until tests done with a wooden pick. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For mini-muffins: Do not add butterscotch chips to batter before filling mini-muffin cups. Instead, fill cups 2/3 full, then gently press 3 butterscotch chips into each mini-muffin before adding crumb topping. Bake for about 14 minutes until edges are lightly browned.

Yield: about 16 large muffins or 60 mini-muffins