Baklava Muffins

These muffins are chock-full of the nuts and spices I love in baklava, but the best part is the phyllo shells that hold them -- soaked with honey butter, they are sticky-crispy good.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 30 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 12 muffins
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Ingredients

Shells:

113 grams (4 ounces) (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

85 grams (1/4 cup) honey

6 grams (1 tablespoon) finely grated lemon zest

5 sheets phyllo dough (about 14-by-18 inches), thawed

Muffins:

113 grams (4 ounces) (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

120 grams (1 cup) granulated honey

99 grams (2 large) eggs

5 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract

1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) almond extract

241 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour

8 grams (2 teaspoons) baking powder

3 grams (3/4 teaspoon) fine sea salt

2 grams (1 teaspoon) ground cinnamon

1 gram (1/2 teaspoon) ground cardamom

Scant 1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) ground cloves

121 grams (1/2 cup) buttermilk, at room temperature

128 grams (1 cup) coarsely chopped pine nuts

128 grams (1 cup) coarsely chopped pistachios

64 grams (1/2 cup) coarsely chopped walnuts

Directions

Special equipment:
a 12-cup muffin pan
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), with a rack in the middle. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.
  2. Make the shells: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the honey and lemon zest and take the pan off the heat.
  3. Unfold the phyllo sheets and cover them with damp paper towels. Lay one sheet of phyllo on a work surface (keep the remaining sheets covered). Brush the sheet evenly with the butter mixture. Top with another sheet of phyllo and brush with butter. Repeat with the remaining phyllo, using all but a few tablespoons of the butter mixture.
  4. Use a pastry wheel or knife to cut the stack of phyllo into 12 equal rectangles. Press each rectangle into a muffin cup. Crumple the edges a bit so the phyllo doesn't lie flat but instead looks like ruffles around the edges of the muffin cups.
  5. Bake the shells until they just begin to turn golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Cool completely.
  6. Make the muffins: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a hand mixer), cream the butter and granulated honey on medium-low speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the bowl well. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix to combine.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves to combine. Add one third of the mixture to the butter mixture and mix to combine. Add half of the buttermilk and mix to combine. Repeat with another third of the flour and the remaining buttermilk, and then mix in the remaining flour.
  8. In a medium bowl, stir together the nuts. Remove 50 grams (1/3 cup) of the mixed nuts and set aside. Stir the remaining nuts into the batter.
  9. Scoop the batter evenly into the cooled shells (I use a No. 16 (1/4-cup) scoop, but you can also just eyeball it). Use the reserved butter mixture to brush the tops of the muffins, then sprinkle a few teaspoons of the reserved nuts on top of each one.
  10. Bake the muffins until the phyllo is very crisp and golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack, turn right side up, and cool completely.

Cook’s Note

You can find granulated honey in many grocery and health food stores -- check the health foods aisle or the sweeteners in the baking aisle; it's also sometimes sold with the sugar substitutes for coffee or tea. Or you can order it online. Note that some granulated honey is pure honey, and some is a blend of honey and sugar -- both work in this recipe, but the sugar-honey combo doesn't have as intense a honey flavor. Make Ahead and Storage: The muffins can be stored airtight at room temperature for up to 2 days. Why It Works: Par-baking the phyllo cups helps ensure the bottoms of the muffins are still crispy when the muffins are done. Granulated honey is a wonderful relatively new product -- the flavor isn't as intense as most liquid honey, and since it sweetens without adding liquid, it can be used in many places you'd normally use granulated or brown sugar. Pro Tip: If the phyllo dough is your favorite part, you can add a little extra. Double the amounts for the dough and the melted butter, and build a second stack of phyllo as directed. Cut it crosswise into 12 equal strips, about 1 inch wide. After you've formed the phyllo cups, arrange a strip shaped into a circle on top of each one; the dough should easily adhere to the top edges of each cup because of all the butter. For a crinkly finish, crumple the strips up a bit.

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