When did allspice get voted off the Spice Island? It is a delightfully warm spice that lends its flavor profile to both sweet and savory dishes. Allspice berries have a unique flavor reminiscent of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves with hints of juniper and black peppercorn. But do not mistake allspice as a blend of baking spices cleverly marketed by large spice companies. Oh no! Allspice is a berry of Jamaican extraction and is a spice all on its own. It is a beloved spice in such traditional holiday favorites as mincemeat, pumpkin pie, and eggnog. It is also used in Jamaican savory classics such as jerk seasoning and Jamaican beef patties.
Mimi's Kitchen first discovered allspice as a part of pumpkin pie and apple pie spice blend. The Kitchen began playing with making its own spice blend and discovered that a hint of black pepper is a beautiful addition to warmly spiced fall sweets. That led to a little research which led to more research which led me to dreaming I was on the island when in reality I was sniffing spice bottles and baking pies in my own kitchen. All that to say allspice (not a blend of baking spices) is delightful and definitely worthy of a place of honor on your spice shelf.
After discovering allspice I went on a baking binge and soon discovered Allspice Crumb Muffins in my much loved Dorie Greenspan book title Baking with Dorie. After a couple of trial runs I changed her recipe ever so slightly by ramping up the allspice and browning the butter used in the muffin. Browning the butter adds a nutty toffee flavor to baked goods. It takes a few minutes to brown butter but it is worth the effort.
These little breakfast muffins topped with an allspice laced streusel are warm in flavor and pair beautifully with a hot morning beverage or a late afternoon tea.
Allspice Streusel Topped Muffins
For the Streusel
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, and allspice in a small bowl. Add the bits of cold butter and toss to coat, then use your fingers or a fork to work the butter into the dry ingredients until the clumps of butter are coated with the spice and flour mixture. Keep the streusel cool by placing it in the refrigerator while preparing the muffins. This made be covered and refrigerated for up to three days.
For the Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, browned and cooled
2 large eggs
¾ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375° F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
Brown the butter by placing it in a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. As it melts swirl the butter around the pan. Keep swirling the butter over the heat until it is light brown in color and smells nutty. The butter will go from brown to burnt quickly so watch it closely! Set the browned butter aside until ready to use.
Sift the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, allspice, and salt into a large bowl.
In a small bowl whisk together the browned butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and gently stir with a rubber spatula just until mixture is combined but still lumpy.
Divide the batter evenly among cups in the prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle streusel over each muffing, gently pressing it into the batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing muffins to the rack to cool completely.
Steep a pot of your favorite tea and enjoy with the muffins. I especially enjoy Ceylon tea with these beauties.