The last word

boys cookingI have two sick kids today, just in time for all that good cheer. Still, we are baking – cookies, cakes, candies and biscuits! – and tomorrow morning we’ll have fresh homemade morning buns, per Jacob’s request. I’ve been playing with that recipe and plan to share soon – but in the meantime, here is one you might want to try instead.


It’s a soft-crumbed, not-too-sweet muffin, heady with nutmeg. It comes from Marion Cunningham, and she herself calls it The Last Word in Nutmeg Muffins. I wouldn’t dare argue. (But I would add that it makes a mean mini-loaf, in a mini-bundt or standard mini pan … )



I have been listening and listening to this stirring dulcimer piece, with thanks to my cousin Melanie for sharing it. As we finish all our elfing about, wrapping and ribboning, baking and tasting, packaging and shipping – in the midst of it, we wish you all the brightest and the most magical of nights. Our guys are angling to watch Polar Express again, and we just might let them – it’s rife with the sort of magic they love these days.

fancy edge

Thanks for hanging out with us at ItS, and thanks for reading. Merry, happy, beautiful, reflective, loving, and peaceful – peaceful – peaceful – we wish it all for you – and we’ll see you on the other side.




Last Word in Nutmeg Muffins
Slightly adapted from Marion Cunningham and The Breakfast Book 

These are quick and easy (even the nutmeg grating goes fast!). They are also delicious, a special treat on the breakfast table that has the excellent breakfast-table quality of being both familiar and just slightly unusual – not in a surprising (or “interesting“) way – but in a pleasantly unexpected way. The holiday gift you didn’t ask for but love best of all. Marion says it best: “Fragrant, creamy-crumbed nutmeg muffins, the best of their kind … perfect creations.” It’s rather true.

Just don’t think you’ll be able to get a perfect picture of them – once they’re out of the oven, little people with sticky fingers will no doubt be getting in your way. :)

2 cups all purpose flour (sub 1 cup whole wheat if you’d like)
3/4 cup sugar (we sometimes cut it down to 1/2 a cup with no problem)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 (or 2) whole nutmegs, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup heavy cream (we use 1/2 and 1/2)
3/4 cup milk
5 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 F and grease your muffin tins (or mini bundt pans, or mini loaf pans). (This makes one dozen standard muffins or two dozen minis).

Stir in a medium mixing bowl with a fork the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Beat the egg in a small bowl and add the cream, milk and butter. Mix well. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir until there are no flour streaks remaining – DO NOT OVER MIX. These muffins really have such a tender crumb, just make sure to mix only as much needed. (I tend to think of this as mixing slightly less than I think is needed.)

Spoon batter into muffin cups, and bake until “the rounded tops are lightly golden” (about 20 minutes, adjusting time as needed for mini or jumbo muffins – the ones pictured are mini).

Remove from the pans and serve warm, or cool on racks and freeze for later use.  Warm them up in the toaster oven before serving – or be like my kids and eat them frozen, straight from the freezer. Because, you know – happy holidays ;)

8 thoughts on “The last word

  1. Happy holidays H. family! I’m off to buy nutmeg(s?) to try this recipe – and the ‘egg nog’ cookie one too! Happy new year, and I will look forward to that morning bun recipe when you return.

  2. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas! I wanted to let you know that I tried out your recipe for gougères/cheesy-puff-biscuits for our Christmas dinner to have alongside chateaubriand, scalloped potatoes and asparagus and they were perfect and a big hit! I also have made your baked brie with dried cranberries/brown sugar/garlic/nuts for the past 5+ years now for the holidays (you had sent it to me in an email recipe exchange) and it might be my most requested appetizer from family and friends, and one that another friend of mine has incorporated into her holiday as well :) Thanks for sharing so many wonderful recipes!

    • Hi Alicia! Merry Christmas to you and Andy, too – sounds like an AMAZING holiday dinner – and what fun to hear that you have been making that brie recipe all this time! It is in our wedding cookbook, and actually originated with my sister in law Kate … Kyle and I had it at her house as an appetizer once about a zillion years ago, and were floored. Maybe I’ll pull it out this year for New Year’s Eve :) Thanks for reading and commenting and sharing. All the best for 2013! xo

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