I look forward to purchasing a big loaf of panettone on December 23rd, because it makes really delicious and special French toast for Christmas Eve breakfast. This year I’ll be breaking that tradition because I’ve found something even better! These panettone muffins are divine and they hold all the distinctive flavor panettone is known for. I’m hooked!
Fiori di Sicilia is the distinctive flavor to which I’m referring. It’s hard to describe the exact taste because there are many different notes – vanilla, orange, cream, lemon, something mildly floral. Fiori di Sicilia means ‘Flowers of Sicily” and there’s nothing else like it. I highly recommend purchasing a bottle if you plan to make these muffins. They won’t be the same without it. You can find the extract at kitchen supply shops like Sur La Table or online.
The muffin batter bakes up so soft and fluffy, which is the perfect blank canvas for rum-plumped fruit. The usual mix-ins for panettone are candied orange, citron, lemon zest, and raisins. While shopping for dried fruit I found this mix, and the additions of tropical fruit like papaya and pineapple really appealed to me. They were wonderful in this recipe!
I used some mini panettone papers for the muffins and they cooked up tall and lovely just like a loaf panettone. A regular muffin tin and paper liners will work fine, too.
I used Swedish pearl sugar on these, even though it’s not a usual panettone ingredient. The sugar makes the crust a hint sweeter and gives it a crunchy texture. You can find pearl sugar here, and in the international section at most US grocery stores. Coarse sugar would also be nice and would make a crunchable muffin top.
Begin these one day ahead because the dried fruit needs to hydrate in the rum overnight. You may use orange juice in place of the rum if you prefer.
Yields about 1 dozen
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 1/2 cup (230g) chopped dried fruit mix
1/4 cup (60ml) rum or orange juice
1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup (130g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia
2 1/4 cups (270g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup (160ml) whole milk
1/4 cup (35g) pearl sugar or coarse sanding sugar
Place the dried fruit and rum (or OJ) in a large bowl and stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to stand overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners, or use 12 free-standing mini panettone cups (see blog post).
Place the butter oil and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until well combined. Beat in the eggs and Fiori di Sicilia.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture alternately with the whole milk; begin and end with flour. Stir in the fruit and any liquid that remains.
Spoon the batter into the prepared liners or cups. Sprinkle the tops with pearl sugar. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the muffins are golden on top and a toothpick tester inserted into the centers of the muffins comes out clean.
Transfer the muffins to a wire rack and let the cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.