Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Tale of Two Muffins: Orange-Peanut Butter & Carrot-Raisin

This month, I'm in charge of bringing breakfast for my lab-mates on Friday mornings. I like to break from the usual bagels or ho-hum store-bought coffee cakes, so last week I took a different route - homemade muffins. This is by no means groundbreaking, but it is rare that anyone makes anything with their own two hands for our TGIF meal. So just to make it extra special, I decided to make two muffins. One sumptuous, indulgent and surprising; one healthy, fresh and wholesome.

Orange-PB Muffins

Orange-Peanut Butter Muffins
Makes 12 servings

1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 large egg
1 cup fresh orange juice
1.5 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a standard-sized, 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In an electric mixer, beat together the oil, honey, peanut butter, orange marmalade, egg, and orange juice.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Gently beat in flour mixture into PB-orange mixture just until incorporated.
Divide batter among greased muffin cups. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in muffin pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

These muffins turned out quite deliciously. The oil and peanut butter give the muffin a smooth, moist texture. The peanut butter and orange are in harmony on your tongue, neither pounding you over the head with their individual flavor, but instead both blending into the background. These could also make a great cupcake with any number of frostings (off the top of my head I could think of vanilla, peanut butter, orange, honey, cinnamon, or chocolate, but the possibilities are endless).

Carrot-Raisin Muffins

Carrot-Raisin Muffins
Makes 12 servings

1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a standard-sized, 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices.

Using a standing mixer, beat applesauce, oil and eggs. Add shredded carrot and raisins and beat mixture until well combined. Stir in flour mixture just until incorporated. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups (about 2/3 full). Bake about 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

This may sound weird, but of these two muffins, the carrot-raisin were my favorite. Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge peanut butter fan. But when I think muffin, these beauties are what I imagine. The tops are rough and rugged, emphasizing the extra fiber from the whole wheat flour within. Instead of more oil, unsweetened applesauce makes the muffins moist. The carrot and raisin provide their own sweetness and nutrients to the mix. You could easily add some nuts or sunflower seeds to these. If you're so inclined, the addition of some rolled oats could make these into granola muffins. And for all of their nutritional good, they also play nice with your taste buds, imparting their fresh flavors.

Cupcake Courier

As an aside, I want to mention my newest kitchen acquisition - the cupcake courier. I've seen various people carrying these and they really are a good idea. I bought mine from Amazon. Not only can it carry three dozen muffins or cupcakes in three stacked layers, but as you can see from the picture, it even separates the layers with enough room to decorate the cupcakes. In the past I've used the disposable foil bake-ware from the grocery store, but even then you often can't get all of your cupcakes in one tin. It does take up some extra storage space in my house, but it's well worth it.

Both of these muffins are delicious in their own particular ways. When it comes down to it, even without getting into food preferences, these two muffins offered my co-workers their own ways for starting their Friday. If you need that boost of sugar and feeling of luxury on your lengua to trick yourself into finishing the week, then there's a muffin for that. If you like to start your morning feeling healthy and empowered, there's a muffin for that. Now I just need to figure out how to make a muffin that can wash the dishes.

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