Crumb Topped Caramel Zucchini Muffins

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Crumb Topped Caramel Zucchini Muffins with a swirl of Dulce de Leche hiding inside and a buttery, crunchy crumb topping. 

Featured Image for post Crumb Topped Caramel Zucchini Muffins

Today’s post is a guest post from a long-time Barbara Bakes reader and a sweet, virtual friend. Carol shares my love of baking and lucky for us, offered to share one of her new favorite muffin recipes. 

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It’s summer here in New England. For me, that means it’s vegetable garden time. Fresh vegetables are coming in by the basketful.

One of my favorites? Zucchini-that wonderfully versatile squash that is a blank canvas for so many fantastic recipes. We love it in savory dishes, and I have SO much fun experimenting with new recipes for zucchini bread and muffins. I keep a “flavor idea” list going all year so when inspiration hits, I jot it down so I won’t forget it when zucchini bread baking time rolls around. So far, I’ve created over 20 different zucchini muffin and bread recipes-and the list just keeps on growing.

One of my goals this year was to incorporate caramel into one my new recipes. Swirls or pockets of caramel in zucchini good would that be?

Delicious…but a little tricky. The caramel would have to be thick enough to suspend in the batter-too thin and it will melt away. Caramel ice cream topping tends to be a little on the thin side. What to do? After a little experimenting, I found that Dulce de Leche is the perfect consistency to get the end result I wanted. I know you can make Dulce de Leche from scratch using sweetened condensed milk, and I can’t wait to try that, but for these, I used a can of Dulce de Leche found in the Latin section or near the sweetened condensed milk at the grocery store.

Crumb Topped Caramel Zucchini Muffins with a swirl of Dulce de Leche hiding inside and a buttery, crunchy crumb topping.

Now on to the topping. I will admit-crumb topping has been my nemesis. I love love LOVE a semi-thick glorious crumbly coating of it on muffins, quick breads and coffee cakes, but I can never seem to get the end consistency I want. It either is too fine, stays in big clumps or melts into a solid layer and doesn’t look at all like those perfectly topped crumb cakes I adore. I’ve tried cutting in butter, melting the butter, using one kind of sugar, you name it…nothing seemed to work….

Until now. I was so happy to finally find a recipe that gave me the perfect end result I was looking for. The secret? Letting the topping mixture DRY on parchment paper, then crumbling it with your fingers. I will say, I had my doubts when it was in the bowl….I thought OH NO NOT AGAIN. I did as directed and low and behold, as the moisture evaporated from the melted butter, the mixture became glorious crumbs that you could leave in large chunks or crumble into smaller pieces for your topping.

Crumb Topped Caramel Zucchini Muffins with a swirl of Dulce de Leche hiding inside and a buttery, crunchy crumb topping.

Ohhhh are these muffins heavenly. They’re like mini coffee cakes-with a hidden flavor surprise. The buttery crumb topping is a wonderful contrast to the soft tender muffin-and those pockets and swirls of caramel just send these over the top.

I couldn’t be more pleased with the end result of my latest kitchen experiment. I see many more wild and crazy flavor combinations for zucchini bread and muffins in my future. My list keeps on growing just like the zucchini in the garden. If you’re a caramel fan and have zucchini busting out of your garden, I hope you’ll give these a try.

Thanks so much for inviting me over to guest post, Barbara. I always have fun visiting with you and your readers.


Featured Image for post Crumb Topped Caramel Zucchini Muffins
Yield: Makes 12 jumbo muffins

Crumb Topped Caramel Zucchini Muffins

Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caramel extract
  • 2 cups unpeeled shredded zucchini
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (4 serving size) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14 ounce) can Dulce de Leche


  1. For the crumb topping, stir together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until well combined. Whisk in the melted butter. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the flour just until everything is combined. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. As the mixture dries, crumble it into coarse crumbs with your fingers. Set it aside while making the muffin batter.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 12 jumbo muffin cups. Set the pans aside.
  3. Shred the zucchini using the large whole side of a box grater. Place the shredded zucchini in a mesh strainer to drain while assembling the other ingredients.
  4. For the muffin batter, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla, and caramel extract until well blended.
  5. Gently squeeze any excess moisture out of the shredded zucchini, then stir it into the egg mixture.
  6. In a medium bowl. whisk together the flour, vanilla pudding mix, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg/zucchini mixture and stir just until combined.
  7. Divide half of the muffin batter between the prepared muffin cups.
  8. Spoon a generous half of the can of Dulce de Leche into a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for a few seconds just until the caramel warms a little-that will thin it slightly and make it easier to drop off a spoon. Give it a stir to make sure it's warmed all the way through.
  9. Place a generous teaspoonful of the caramel in the center of the batter in each muffin cup. Gently swirl the caramel into the batter. A metal skewer used for trussing and tying a turkey or chicken to roast works great for this.
  10. Top with the remaining muffin batter. Spoon another teaspoonful of Dulce de Leche on the center of the batter and swirl.
  11. Sprinkle the crumb topping over each muffin.
  12. Bake @ 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  13. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each muffin and gently remove them from the pans to a wire rack to cool completely.


CRUMB TOPPING: Source: slightly adapted from Damn Delicious

Thanks Carol for sharing your recipe! I was anxious to give it a try, so I made my own Dulce de Leche in the pressure cooker and made Crumb Topped Caramel Zucchini Bread using your deliciously decadent muffin recipe.

Collage of Pressure Cooker Dulce de Leche and Crumb Topped Caramel Zucchini Bread

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