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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Berries and Cream Breakfast Muffins

When the temperature dips below zero in March.
When your sister is laid up in the hospital post-appendix.
When you are inexplicably awake at 5am and don't have to be anywhere for three hours.
...why not make some muffins?

I promise you won't regret it. These are really, really good - not too sweet, and just a little different from your average muffin. The inspiration comes from Smitten Kitchen's Ricotta Muffins but these are totally different, mostly because I had to make do with what I had in my fridge. Like many great things, such as the wheel, Milk Duds and Post-it Notes, these muffins were born of necessity and small accidents.

Things the recipe required that I did not have:
- Ricotta
- Fennel (which is probably OK because I'm not a huge fennel fan)
- 1.5 cups of yogurt
- pecans

Things I had instead:
- Random mascarpone left over from a party (and seriously, what am I going to do with a tub of mascarpone? Make Cannoli?? Let's get real here. Cannoli is just not practical. It's what one leaves when one takes the guns, or so I've heard)
- Cinnamon and Vanilla
- 1 cup of yogurt and some whole milk
- Several jars of almost-finished jam
- Walnuts
- Sheer willpower

These ended up with some fillings that were quite random... a few had jam, a few had apple butter, and some had a bit of smashed up banana (left over from the half I didn't use in yesterday's oatmeal). The jam ones definitely turned out the best - both the apple butter and then banana got a bit lost (maybe I should have just used more)... and I imagine fresh fruit puree would be even better than jam. The tartness would add a nice touch.

Don't be afraid of the thick batter... these guys get nice and fluffy in the oven. Also do not fear the lack of eggs... it seems really weird to be making a muffin without eggs, but just have some faith and everything will turn out alright. Cross my heart.

Then, before it's even time for breakfast, you'll have a delicious snack to take to your sister in the hospital, and also your parents who are taking care of her. Just try not to eat all of them yourself before you leave the house!
Also, my sis is doing just fine - she went home today, the surgery was totally routine and she seemed great when I saw her this morning. No jumping for two weeks though, and no weights for almost a month which knowing her is going to be tough. With my sister and my dad, we are now 2 for 4 on Gorder family surgeries this year... let's hope it stays that way! OK back to the task at hand:

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
3 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda (I may have accidentally used 3/4 Tablespoon... so keep that in mind)
1 tsp cinnamon
1-1/4 cup plain, full-fat yogurt
1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla
Brown sugar to sprinkle over the top
Preheat the oven to 425 and toast the nuts until they are... toasted. Remove the nuts, reduce heat to 325.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda together to combine. Make a large well in the center and pour in the yogurt, milk and oil. Whisk the liquids together and gradually draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until imcorporated. The batter gets thick so you might need to switch to a wooden spoon or spatula partway through.

To prepare the filling: place the mascarpone in a small bowl, with the vanilla, stir together to comgine and keep stirring a little to warm it and make it more spreadable.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners, and fill each one about 1/3 full with batter. Deb suggests using a pastry bag or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off. I imagine this would have worked perfectly - however I had neither of these things in my kitchen so I went with the failsafe method of "spoon what you think is probably the right amount of batter into the muffin tin and then squoosh it down with your fingers until it covers the bottom." Worked like a charm.

Spoon a little less than 1 tablespoon of the mascarpone, vanilla mixture over the first layer of batter, and cover that with 1 teaspoon of your filling of choice: jam, fresh fruit puree, fruit butter, nut butter (ooh! just thought of that... that could be delicious). Spoon the remaining batter into the cups to cover the filling, and sprinkle walnuts and brown sugar on the top of each muffin.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are beginning to turn golden brown. Be VERY CAREFUL not to overbake these... the batter is naturally a very light color, so when they start to turn a little golden they are done. Finished. Etc.
Enjoy with coffee. Then bundle up in a thousand layers and head into the freezing cold.... I REALLY hope spring comes soon.


  1. This blog just keeps making me smile and smile and smile some more

  2. Was it the Godfather reference? It totally was, wasn't it.


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