Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Elusive Starbucks Raspberry Muffins: Take 1

Regular readers of Lavender Blue may recall that a while back, I posted a reader poll requesting input from all of you on which item from the Starbucks bakery counter I should try to recreate. The winner was the Low-fat Raspberry Sunshine Muffin. I really love these buttery tasting, slightly citrusy muffins studded with lush lumps of juicy red raspberries. It is really hard to imagine they are low-fat, because they don't have that gummy, awful "I have been lightened up" taste that many diet baked goods seem to take on.

Having made a similar, albeit full fat version of these muffins many times before, I confidently thought I could use my old standby recipe as a model, and then consult my cookbooks and online resources to find ways to remove the fat and at the same time, get as close to the flavor and look of the actual Starbucks muffins as I could. My main influences this time were my favorite recipe for raspberry muffins and a low-fat muffin I found on Eating Well's website here. I entered everything into my trusty Mastercook program and crunched numbers until I was able to get the fat and calories down to 6 grams of fat per muffin and under 200 calories, which is about what the actual Starbucks muffins supposedly contain.

When converting the recipes, I wanted to stay away from whole wheat flour, as I was fairly certain Starbucks does not use whole wheat in their version. I also tried to incorporate certain flavors I had detected while sampling their muffins, namely lemon zest, yogurt, a hint of orange flavor, and of course the raspberries. My results came out ok, but I am not quite there yet. The flavors were close and the muffins looked very similar to the Starbucks version, but the texture was way off. Mine were a bit too springy and spongy, clearly a diet muffin. My daughter knew in a second that these were not the real thing. So, I still need to work out the proportions.

In case you are curious, here is the recipe I came up with:

Not Quite There Yet Starbucks Raspberry Sunshine Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

Dry ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp dry buttermilk powder*
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients: (I think this is the main area that needs work)
1/2 cup water*
2 large eggs
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
3 tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp lemon flavoring
1/4 cup orange juice

1 lemon, zest of (reserving some of the juice for the topping)
1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries, unthawed (this amount was way too much, I'd use only 3/4-1 cup next time)

2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp granulated sugar
lemon juice, as needed to mix ingredients together

Preheat oven to 400 F and line 12 muffin tins with paper liners (Starbucks uses large squares of folded parchment that have radiating points).

Mix together the dry ingredients in one large bowl and make a well in the center. Mix together the wet ingredients and then pour them into the well you made in the flour. Stir just enough to combine, leaving a few small lumps but no dry patches. Gently fold in the fruit.

Fill the muffin tins with the batter. Combine the flour, butter and sugar for the topping using a fork or pastry blender, adding a small amount of the lemon juice for flavor. You just want to get crumbs here, not a paste, so do not overwork this. (This was one of the areas that needs improvement, as I had trouble getting this to form nice crumbs, perhaps due to having my butter a bit too soft.) Sprinkle a little of the crumb mixture over each muffin. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the muffins are puffed and golden on top, and a toothpick tests clean. A word to the wise: Allow to cool before eating or the hot, molten berries will burn your tongue!

*NOTE: I used buttermilk powder + water this time, however next time I would just use real buttermilk or just more yogurt.


  1. I love that you do this Heather!! They look good, even if they are not quite like the ones you are aiming for. I am sure you will crack it eventually!!

  2. Glad to see you back up and running. The muffins sound delicious.

  3. Thank you both so much for your kind words. I will try my best to keep posting regularly. Sometimes life has a way of throwing a wrench at you, and in my case it feels like I got tossed the whole toolbox. Things will get better eventually, I hope.. I know.. I hope.. well, we'll what see happens over the next few months.

    Before I know it, this thank you note will become a blog post on its own ;)

  4. Hi again Heather. I know you are going through a rough patch right now but I've got a happiness award waiting for you over at my blog. It was sent to me by Jane who writes a lovely blog about her experiences in the Midlands. I thought you might like it. I've also made mention of your blog address so my readers can get to know you.