Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Famous Muffin Recipe

Recently, in a Facebook exchange, I mentioned a muffin that I have been making at this time of year since the beginning of time. Even though I am a health and fitness fanatic and do not support the consumption of junk food, I also remember, often, the time my friend said to me:

"We live for a very short time. We're dead for a very long time. Eat the fucking cookie."

So, for me, in my life philosophy, I have come to realize that life is too short to do the holiday season without a spicey baked good, now and then. It is ALL about moderation. So, yeah, come the holidays I bake my own baked goods and give them away, saving one (maybe two) for Pat and I to have. Then, we make up for it by training extra special hard.

Yesterday, I had to make some pumpkin bread and some banana bread to give someone. So I bought individual mini loaf pans, made four of each and gave them all away, saving one banana and one pumpkin for Pat and I to share. Moderation, m'dears.

Well, when I mentioned this famous recipe that I have been making for two decades, my friend, Sean and some of his Facebook friends asked me to post the recipe. Never one to disappoint, I have typed it up and posted it below.

Here is the interesting point I MUST share as a health and fitness fanatic. I was making these this week as a test run for Thanksgiving. I am taking them to a dinner being hosted by my girlfriend who is alergic to wheat. So I made them, for the first time, with gluten free flour. Pat and I both agreed: they tasted better than they do with wheat. So even though the recipe below calls for regular flour, I am suggesting that you try it with:

BOB'S RED MILL WHEAT FREE GLUTEN FREE ALL PURPOSE BAKING FLOUR. It can be used with a 1:1 ratio to replace normal flour in your recipes. It does require (for the science of baking) a little assistance in the form of BOB'S RED MILL XANTHAM GUM. There is a chart to tell you how much xantham to use. If you replace your regular all purpose flour with this two ingredients, using the 1:1 ratio and the xantham chart, you will find no difference at all: except you are wheat free (always a good thing, health wise) and that they taste lighter and better.

Makes 12 Regular or 48 Miniature Muffins.

Miniature muffins go further but regular size are more fun to eat; after all, you can only fit so many chocolate chips and sliced almonds into one mini muffin...

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place 1/2 cup sliced unblanched almonds on a baking sheet or pie plate and bake about five minutes until they are LIGHTLY toasted. Don't let them burn! It ruins the taste and texture--also the look. Nothing nastier than biting into a muffin and seeing a black almond. Tan to light brown in colour is the goal. Toaster oven will do, too. Remove, slide off and let cool. Grease your muffin cups. Or use baking cups--foil or paper will do. I tend to just use Pam Cooking spray but I, occasionally, lose the chocolate chips on the bottom of the muffin to a greedy muffin pan that won't let go...

Thoroughly mix the following in a large bowl:
1 2/3 (One and two thirds) cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Break 2 large eggs into a different bowl.
Add 1 cup plain pumpkin (half a one pound can--I use Libby's and make sure it is pure pumpkin and not the pumpkin pie mix. It is possible to grab the wrong can. See: Solid Packed Pumpkin) and
1/2 cup butter (that's one stick--and use butter; if you are going to do calories, might as well go for the real thing--my nutritionist says real butter is ultimately better for you than substitutes, anyway).
Whisk these up until they are well blended.
Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips (I use semi sweet--milk chocolate chips don't have QUITE the RIGHT texture or taste for this muffin) and almonds. By the way--make sure your melted butter has cooled a little before doing this because the heat from the butter can melt your chocolate chips, ruining the ultimate outcome of the muffin.
Once the wet mixture is blended, pour it over the dry mixture and fold just until the dry mixture is moistened. Scoop, spoon or pour the batter into cups.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes.
The texture, when done, should be puffy and springy to the touch.
Remove and empty the pans onto a rack to cool.

Now. The book in which I found this recipe says you should make these one or two days ahead for best flavour. I have found that I like to let the muffins cool and eat one warm with a glass of cold milk. However, they are just as good at room temperature later in the day. They are also good if stored in plastic and kept for later. I have found that when they are kept for later and everything inside the muffins has reached its natural consistency, the sponginess of the muffins, the crunchiness of the almonds and the soft-yet-firmness of the chocolate chips makes for some great textural fun for the mouth. This is one of my most popular recipes and, while the breakdown of ingredients is true to the book MUFFINS by Elizabeth Alston, I have noted, herein, my own observations over years and years of making this treat.



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