January 6, 2017
We woke here in the Memphis area to about two inches of snow this morning. Snow is a beautiful thing and nothing is more exhilarating here than anticipating snow. The traffic was crazy yesterday and the stores bursting with customers in anticipation of the big event. Snow is not taken lightly around here. We revere it. We close our schools and businesses in respect to the white powder. We tuck in with our hot cocoa and keep our jammies on all day long. It is lovely – but usually short-lived and before it dies, it tends to get ugly by turning into extremely dangerous black ice. Nevertheless, for now it is white, fluffy, and lovely. We took this photo this morning.
It’s days like this, when we are all tucked in and still in our jammies that I think of my mom. She left this earthly home a few years ago. Her birthday was January 2nd. With all of the festivities ending, I forgot it almost every single year. Sometimes I would get an extra gift for her while shopping for Christmas gifts but I often even forgot to give her that gift as well. Usually, by the end of the birthday day I would remember and call her to let her know I would be by in the next day or so to celebrate. For some reason, this year on her birthday, I could think of nothing else. . .
Anyway, on days like today when I was a kid, we woke up earlier than usual to make sure school was closed and upon getting the good news jumped back into bed too excited to go back to sleep. Mom always made days like this special. Often she would bake something special for us before we went out into the Winter Wonderland to make snowmen or simply try to hit one-another with soupy snow balls—a thing that could not possibly happen because they generally would not hold together well enough to go very far. On most days like this, she would bake Peabody Vanilla Muffins to warm us through and make the day even more special.
Here is a photo of Mom from back in the day:
I love this vanilla muffin recipe so much that I serve it every year for my New Year’s Day brunch and this year was no exception. It is a universal pleaser for sure. I make mini-muffins but Mom made regular sized muffins. While she baked them, she would tell the story of how during the depression the Peabody Hotel served these muffins free with a 5-cent cup of coffee. I could always envision lines of people all dressed in layers of clothes, cold and hungry, waiting to get warm with a cup of coffee and these sweet muffins. She would remind us of how fortunate we were (and are today) to be warm and cozy.
I discussed the free vanilla muffin give-away with Kelly Earnest, Director of Marketing-Communications, The Peabody Memphis, and together we found one of the original articles listing the recipe. Lisa Jennings at the Commercial Appeal wrote the article and it listed two versions of the recipe. Kelly was also kind enough to send the current recipe that the Peabody uses today. The muffins are perfect served warm on a cold day or served at room temperature on any day.
Here is the recipe I have from back in the day when I copied it from the local newspaper. Please note that the mixing and baking directions for the first three recipes are the same.
Here are the recipes from the newspaper article:
Peabody Vanilla Muffins – Recipe Number 1 (This one is like mine.)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
1 cup milk
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
Peabody Vanilla Muffins – Recipe Number 2
½ cup butter, melted
2 cups milk
1 tbsp. vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
4 tbsp. baking powder
Mixing and baking directions for the above three recipes are as follows:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease the muffin tin well as these lovely muffins have so much sugar in them that they tend to stick so prepare the tins in anticipation of sticking.
Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl.
Mix wet ingredients together in another bowl.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the center of the well.
Mix everything together with a fork. Then fold a couple of times with a spatula to make sure no dry mix is on the bottom of the bowl. Try not to over mix.
Scoop batter into muffin tins until each tin is a little over half full.
Bake at 400 degrees 18 – 20 minutes. If you are making mini-muffins, you will need to reduce the cooking time to about 8-10 minutes.
Here is the current recipe from Kelly at the Peabody Memphis (thank you Kelly):
I used my original hand-written recipe above (or Recipe 1 from the news article) and made mini-muffins. Here are the steps:
Enjoy them with a pat of butter~
This recipe made 30 mini-muffins but if you fill the tins a little less you could probably get 36 mini-muffins. In the unlikely event that you have any leftover muffins, simply freeze them. It won’t be long before they call you from the freezer to warm them and enjoy them a second time!
Upon returning in from the cold day of playing in the snow, mom would have warm cocoa on the stove. This was no ordinary cocoa. This cocoa was made from scratch using unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, a dash of vanilla, and whole milk. I don’t have any whole milk on hand today (I used half evaporated milk-half water in today’s recipe) so I can’t come up with the exact recipe. But, I bet that if you put twice the sugar as cocoa (probably about 1 tablespoon cocoa and 2 tablespoons sugar), added enough milk (about a cup or so) to make it look like cocoa, heated it in a pan, and then added a bit of vanilla you could make this one on your own! In the event that you are like me and not a chef, I will come up with one and post it once the big thaw begins and I can travel safely to a store — probably in a day or two!