Some fruit just don’t last long once ripe. OK, perhaps many of them. Peaches especially, though. You might buy them a bit on the firm side, and within 2 days on your counter, your basket of peaches are bursting with flavour. In another half a day, they may be overripe and start to go bad. So what’s a girl got to do with ripe peaches? Bake with them!
Last year, I made one of my favourite cakes, a few times actually – especially when underbaked just slightly – Stone Fruit Tea Cake, with its heavy vanilla presence. I didn’t have enough peaches to bake that cake, as I have been pretty good about restraining myself from buying 3L baskets of peaches. However, I had 2 peaches and some blueberries to throw together these lovely muffins.
I was intrigued by these muffins when I originally spotted them on Very Culinary, who found them originally at Joy the Baker. She used raspberries and blueberries but I knew I wanted to use up some peaches. Peaches and blueberries are a wonderful combination, which I learned after making peach and blueberry salsa earlier this month. But what’s with this browned butter? I’ve never used it before but it sounded divine. Butter makes everything taste better and this seemed like a way to incorporate even more flavour into the batter. With a vanilla crumb topping that I had extra from Cranberry Buckle with Vanilla Crumb, these looked to be a very texture-tickling and flavourful dessert.
The muffins were delicious. I really liked the pieces of peaches and blueberries with the vanilla topping. These muffins were definitely more dense cake-like, and despite the fruit definitely not healthy. It didn’t stop me from gobbling them down with each meal.
I was salivating when I spotted these muffins at Eat Me, Delicious: maple, pecans and Ashley declared: “[These] are my new favourite healthy-ish muffins, and possibly my new favourite muffins period. I adore them.“ I made them, hoping to bring them as a dessert with ample leftovers for a friend who had just had a baby. I, obviously, didn’t read the next part where Ashely commented that these were dry like cornbread. I think the tip-off that these were not suitable for dessert was when Ashley said they were healthy muffins. Thankfully I ate one before I brought them over to my friend’s house, as these are not dessert muffins. They are healthy breakfast muffins.
Not too sweet, despite a half-cup of maple syrup, but crumbly and dry, likely from the half-cup of wheat germ and whole-wheat flour, these muffins are packed with a lot of good nutrients, but the texture was off for me. I’d prefer something a bit more moist and sweet. Granted, once I accepted their fate as breakfast muffins, ate them with a big glass of milk, they grew on me and I slowly appreciated their beauty.
And then I had to whip up another portable dessert for the new mommy.
This is the finale of my muffin trifecta: Wild Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins (to add to Spiced Yogurt Muffins and Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes). A combination of all great ingredients, spurred by a few lonely bananas that made it to the black, yet super sweet stage on my kitchen counter. While this muffin was incredibly tasty and filled with healthy ingredients, I don’t think I will be making muffins again anytime soon…. so many muffins from one batch lasting me a week or two, I think I am all muffined out for a while.
Chocolate … sticky, hot, messy, awful chocolate. Why hadn’t I thought of that? Chocolate – what a beautiful idea.**
Continuing with our muffin/cupcake theme, here a completely unhealthy (don’t let the zucchini fool you) but wonderfully decadent muffin (or is it a cupcake?), filled with chocolate (1 cup of cocoa plus chocolate chips!), made deliciously moist with zucchini with a hint of spice with cinnamon and allspice. I used half mint chocolate chip which added another interesting layer of complexity.
But what makes something a muffin and something a cupcake? I always figured cupcakes were more cake-like, more airy, less substantial, more dessert, whereas muffins were a bit more heartier. Basically, I had a general idea but not entirely sure… so I did a bit of research.
According to Cupcakes Take the Cake:
“The quick-and-dirty answer on this is that cupcakes have frosting, whereas muffins do not. However, in researching, I found an excellent formulaic definition of the difference courtesy of Diana’s Desserts: “A basic formula for muffins is 2 cups flour, 2-4 tablespoons sugar, 2½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 egg, ¼ cup oil, shortening or butter and 1 cup milk. When the fat, sugar and egg ratio in a recipe reaches double or more than this, you have reached the cake level.”
This recipe is from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook by Audrey Alsterburg & Wanda Urbanowicz and also found at 101 cookbooks. It is my submission for this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cinzia at Cindystar.
**Completely spoofed from Dexter.
This will be the beginning of my muffin mania. I have a love/hate relationship with muffins, as it can take a while to munch through a whole batch of muffins and sometimes I wonder how healthy they really are. So I went on a search for a healthier muffin. I found these Spiced Yogurt Muffins, which I adapted from the Novemeber 2008 issue of Food & Wine (and also posted here, here and here).
These spiced yogurt muffins were incredible straight from the oven. They were moist, light and fluffy with delicious spices infused into the batter. I recently won fresh and whole Penzey spices from Aimee at Sugared Ellipses and found it made a real difference, especially when the main star of the muffin are the spices.
The muffins were a bit sticky to the muffin wrapper while they were warm from the oven (nothing a spoon can’t fix), but the next day they fell apart more easily. Muffins are best kept at room temperature for a few days, else frozen after they were made. Putting them in the refrigerator makes them dry.
With only 140 calories (and 3 g fat) per muffin, I think they also qualify as healthy (unlike Starbuck’s Sunrise muffin that is almost 600 calories each!).
Over the holidays, we typically eat a lot of indulgent foods. The desserts, cookies, cakes, chocolates and all that.. but also delicious breakfasts. Muffins are relatively easy to make and these are no exception. What use is breakfast if you spend all day making them? Ricotta tends to add a nice light texture to baked goods and these were delicious with a light lemon flavour. I found them a bit on the dry side and I wonder whether that was because I used light ricotta. The recipe was adapted from A Year in the Kitchen, who adapted them from Rosa’s Yummy Yums. A perfect muffin which contrasted and complemented our overindulgences this holiday season.
Once I opened the can of pumpkin puree, I started to look for other ways of using pumpkin. I love the combination of cinnamon and pumpkin, so this was a natural muffin to make. I got a few cookbooks on squash from the public library and was drawn to this recipe. I found it in Pumpkin and Squash: Recipes from Canada’s Best Chefs by Elaine Elliot and Virginia Lee. The recipe was submitted by the now-closed Jakobstettel Inn in St. Jacob’s, Ontario (which still looks like a gorgeous place for a rural retreat and close to the wonderful St Jacob’s market), who promised moist, delicious muffins. The recipe was modified to include less sugar and less oil, and it was spot-on: a flavourful, unassuming moist muffin. I had to beg my mom not to eat too many before I could take a quick photo one morning. I actually have to give credit to my mom, who made the muffins for me as a surprise after a long day at work.
Lots of spices work well with squash (nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves) and I still have a few more recipes to share with the remainder of my pumpkin puree. In the meantime, go here to enter to win a slew of wonderful spices. Another giveaway can be found here. (more…)