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.
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.
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.