I got stuck with the dessert portion of our office potluck. I’ve seen Top Chef enough times to know that the teammate who makes dessert is usually the one eliminated. Dessert is a biggie. It’s the closer.

Our theme was Chinese New Year. The only dessert I could remember eating from a Chinese restaurant, besides a fortune cookie, was Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts. I’ve made doughnuts in the past and the thought of making them on a work night seemed too daunting. Then I remembered my “12 Recipes” blog post. One of my 12 recipes to make for 2012 was Smitten Kitchen‘s Cinnamon Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs. I’m a sucker for anything named “sea salt” or “brown butter”.

They were extremely easy to make and I loved the miniature size. I may have thought they were one of the best desserts I’d ever tasted but the true test came during lunch the following day.

You can probably guess the outcome. They were a HUGE hit. I’m talking major adjective dropping. Words like “phenomenal” “oh my god” and “nom nom nom” were being tossed around the room.

I think I’m making another batch tonight.

Cinnamon Brown Butter Puffs



2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons unsalted butter


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

pinch ground nutmeg

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a miniature muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare coatings: In a small saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat, stirring frequently, until brown bits form on the bottom and it smells nutty.

Immediately remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Prepare puffs: Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a medium bowl and set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Mix in 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of buttermilk, repeating again and finishing with the flour mixture.

Mix only until combined.

Spoon into prepared muffin cups. Bake miniature muffins for 12 to 14 minutes.

When finished, muffins will feel springy to the touch and a tester inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer them in their pan to a wire rack.

As soon as they’re cool enough to pick up, take your first puff and roll the top and upper edges in the browned butter.

Let any excess butter drip off for a second before gently rolling the butter-soaked cake top in cinnamon-sugar.

Transfer puff to wire rack to set and repeat with remaining puffs. Eat warm.

For an even more indulgent, doughnut-like puff: I had leftover brown butter at the end I refused to get rid of, so I dunked and rolled the bottoms as well. I highly recommend doing so!

Source: Smitten Kitchen