Mandarin-Orange Cranberry Muffins

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Orange-Cranberry Muffin

These mandarin-orange cranberry muffins are a juicy, refreshingly fruity and not-too-sweet treat with a crunchy streusel topping.

Starting in January they appeared at our local Starbucks coffee shops here in Thailand. I was a little surprised at first, because I usually I associate the combination of orange and cranberry with Christmas time.

However, their Christmas special was a cranberry white chocolate muffin that I unfortunately never got to taste.

I didn’t want to let the opportunity for this season’s special pass up, so I tried one of these mandarin-orange cranberry muffins shortly after they appeared in the display for the first time.

Orange Cranberry Muffin

Once I tasted the first bite of this muffin I could see though, why it was not their Christmas special. This muffin is incredibly refreshing and juicy. The warm comforts of cinnamon and allspice – typical for Christmas baking – are completely absent.

The cranberries and mandarin-orange juice and zest give this muffin a really fresh and slightly tart flavor. There is only a little sweetness and a nice crunch from the streusel topping.

This muffin uses mandarin-orange juice and zest, the flavor and color are a little different from actual oranges – still citrus-y but a little sweeter. You can totally use orange juice and zest as replacement, but here in Thailand it is actually hard to find big, orange-colored oranges.

There are many varieties of mandarin-oranges. I mostly like to eat the tiny Chinese ones. However, the variety they use to make orange juice here is actually green from the outside. The inside is orange and they sell it as orange juice – to me it tastes like mandarin juice though.

Cranberry Orange Muffin

I got used to it now, but I remember my surprise when I ordered orange juice for the first time here and received mandarin juice instead.

You can see little dark specks in the picture with the bite taken out. This is the grated zest of green mandarin-oranges.

In recent years a favorite muffin recipe of my family has been Christmas Morning Muffins. They have cranberries and oranges juice – and are probably the reason I first thought this should be a Christmas muffin. But we have actually eaten it all times of the year.

Below I adapted our favorite family recipe to use mandarin-oranges, leaving out cinnamon and allspice and adding a crunchy streusel topping.

Mandarin-Orange Cranberry Muffins
Yield: Makes 12 muffins
  • 1-1/2 cups cranberries (dried or fresh)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (divided)
  • 2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp grated mandarin-orange zest
  • ⅞ cup mandarin-orange juice
  • ¾ stick (0.4 cups) butter, melted
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts optional
Streusel Topping:
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Coarsely chop cranberries and mix with ¼ cup sugar. Set aside.
  2. Place streusel ingredients into a small bowl and combine with you fingers until mixture is crumbly.
  3. Line a muffin tray. In a bowl combine flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and soda, salt and vanilla.
  4. In another bowl beat the egg and add mandarin-orange zest, juice and melted butter.
  5. Add dry mixture to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Mix in cranberries and optional nuts.
  6. Fill 12 muffin liners with the batter, sprinkle streusel crumbles on top and bake for 15-20 minutes until muffins are golden brown.
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  1. says

    No orange colored oranges? Green? Huh? That sounds interesting. I’m off to google green oranges and mandarins!

    And that’s one fat muffin. I love it! Mine always look kind of sad and pathetic. If your muffin right there had a personality, it’d be energetic and fun! πŸ™‚

    • Regina says

      You reminded me that I probably should have included a link to a pictures of these green mandarin-oranges. Will do right away!
      I love your personality characteristic of this muffin. I think it’s dead on πŸ˜€

    • Regina says

      Hey, Sally! Thanks for visiting and the lovely comment. You are right, these muffins are a great morning motivator πŸ˜‰

  2. says

    SAME! I never got round to sampling one of these muffins when they were all the rage over Christmas. I like the look of yours though, they are so inviting! Definitely added to my ‘must bake’ list x

  3. Tania says

    I was after a sweet recipe to use up uneaten mandarins, and found this one. It was a bit tricky converting it to Australian metric, but I managed… Thanks google. I added some cinnamon and nutmeg for extra spice, and they turned out well… And yummy!

    • Regina says

      Ahh…should I tell you something ironic Tania? I had to convert the German recipe from metric measurements!
      So glad to hear they turned out well though.

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