Recipe Review: Pear Ginger (Walnut) Muffins

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Miss Fats has been lazily loaving around her winter workshop baking.  Friday mornings were once a scheduled place for baking experimentation in sweet breakfast delights.  However the cold and apathy has resulted in a continuous slew of breakfast loaves week after week for her regular Friday meetings.  While Miss Fats is relatively sure folks are satisfied with a blackberry lemon pairing, or carrot cake crumble, there’s something a bit lifeless about the loaf object that doesn’t make for baking blog fodder.  So she apologizes to all of you who came here to today to hear about the variations of spice cake that have come out of Miss Fats kitchen (she knows you’re all incredibly disappointed).

In an effort to liven her baking efforts (and frankly, get her blogging again), Miss Fats finally tried out Food52’s Pear Ginger Walnut Muffins by Ms T.  These little guys have been mocking Miss Fats from her Pinterest for months now.  Every week she goes to browse the bounty of breakfast snacks collected on her board, and each week assumes she’ll give this muffin a try.  But she’s been damn lazy; and the idea of portioning out twelve whole muffins on a Friday morning just seems like too much (see what this damn vortex does to people?  Can’t even scoop muffins anymore #notarealproblem).  But February brought a little break in the weather (high 30s have never felt so good), so she rode that heat wave right to muffin town: time for something shiny and new.

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In order to cut down on morning baking, Miss Fats went ahead and made the pear ginger sauce the night ahead.  Ms. T’s instructions were relatively easy to follow, however she found that she needed to cook the sauce for quite a bit longer than the specified 15-20 minutes.  Maybe Miss Fats was dealing with some juicy pears, but hers sat stewing for a good 30-40 minutes.  This was fine, because she just let them hang out while she went about her business.  The sauce simply sat overnight waiting to be muffined the next morning.

As per usual, Miss Fats refused to use more than one bowl for these baked goods.  She simply began with step three, using a whisk instead of an electric mixer.  The dry were added to the wet and produced a thick thick batter of gingery goodness.  Obviously, after a bit of tasting, she upped the salt by about half a tsp.  Now Miss Fats isn’t rolling in walnut-money so she ended up leaving out the nut action.  The muffins baked up in almost exactly 20 minutes, which combined with the ten minute cook time (thanks to sauce prep) made for the ideal morning baking project.

The real beauty of these muffins is their outsides match their insides: mainly they’re both aesthetically pleasing and truly tasty.  Their plump, slightly crisp muffin tops provide the perfect shell for the tender, moist crumb inside.   The sauce only partially broke down the fruit, leaving tender chunks of spiced pear throughout the muffin.  The ginger flavor is subtle and frankly the pear flavor is nonexistent.  However these muffins are more about the gentle flavor and homey texture of a fresh, moist breakfast treat.  While Miss Fats is usually a fan of bolder flavors, she recognizes that not everyone wants kick in the face first thing in the morning.   These ginger pear muffins are the perfect hit of spice and sweet to sit along side a big cup of coffee on a cold morning.  She will definitely be making these again.

Now the real question is how can Miss Fats mix this thing up?  She wonders if there are variations on this sauce-muffin action that can exploited for future breakfast baking projects.  She supposes that any hearty fruit that lends itself to a fruit butter or mash would be appropriate.  That means apples, peaches, and rhubarb had better watch their backs.  Miss Fats is coming for you.

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buttery lemon cream cheese coffee cake: two ways

IMG_0093Miss Fats has spent the last six months on a breakfast baking experiment.  She’s never been much of a morning sweets baker (except for a scone here or there), but her coordinating duties have called for a plethora of breakfast baked goods.  Each week, she’s been trying out essentially a new recipe (though there’s been a couple of lazy repeats) and in the past week she hit a high: lemon cream cheese coffee cake.

Diptic (1)She tried this recipe out two weeks ago as a muffin and it was a huge hit.  So when last Saturday demanded a breakfast sweet for a brunch crowd, she went for it in giant coffee cake form.  This recipe is adapted from one that’s been making the rounds on pinterest and the original can be found here.  Miss Fats has made a couple of adjustments that are crucial when switching between the cake and muffin.  Just follow these tweaks and soon you’ll be in tasty lemon heaven.

IMG_0079Buttery Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake Muffins:
adapted from coffee crumb cake with lemon cheesecake filling
makes 12 large muffins

Filling:
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened (must be soft!)
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt

Cake:
1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
healthy pinch of salt

Topping:
1/4 cup butter softened to room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs sugar
1/3 cup flour
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tin with liners or grease.  Make the filling: cream the cream cheese and sugar on high until they are well incorporated.  Add the egg yolk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest.  Mix until well combined.  Note: this step can easily be done ahead of time and the filling stored in the fridge.

2. Make the cake:  cream the butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add the eggs, sour cream and vanilla and beat until well incorporated (may look a little grainy but it will come together).  Carefully add the flour, baking powder and salt, mixing until incorporated.  The batter will be VERY thick.

3. Assemble the muffins: spoon about 2 tbs of cake batter into each muffin tin, doing your best to spread it across the bottom.  Add about 2 tbs of the filling on top.  Finish off the tops with the remaining batter.  This was a little difficult.  Miss Fats had to use her fingers to make sure the cake batter covered the top of the filling (if it doesn’t quite cover and there’s some filling squishing out of the top: do not worry).

4. Make the topping: mix the flour, sugars and salt in a small bowl.  Add the butter and using your fingers, break up the butter into small bits to create a crumb-like texture.  Sprinkle a generous amount of the topping over each muffin.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out relatively (may have a bit of cream cheese filling on it) clean and the tops are crispy and golden.

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So you’ve basically got the recipe for this in coffee cake form, however Miss Fats recommends a couple of changes:

  1. Use the same filling recipe Miss Fat’s has listed above, but double the lemon.  The original recipe makes way too much that can’t really fit in the middle given the thickness of the batter.  Plus eff lemon extract: use a real lemon!
  2. Multiply the cake recipe by 1.5.  You need more cake batter than both the muffin and original call for: 9×13 is a damn big pan!  Plus this makes for a thick and delicious cake.
  3. Follow all the instructions as listed above: the only change is the assembly (which is actually easier in cake form).  Spread half your batter into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan, followed by all your filling (Miss Fats recommends leaving a 2 inch boarder around this spread), and finally the rest of the cake batter.  Use those fingers to cover the delicious filling.  Using the same topping recipe, spread all over top.  Bake for approximately 50 minutes.

IMG_0151Miss Fats was a total failure documenting the filling action, but she hopes you’ll just trust her and go make this crazy tasty recipe.  Plus its a way better surprise when you take that first bite into a hot coffee cake muffin.  Just you wait.

IMG_0098Monster muffin reminded Miss Fats of a creamy blonde kitty.  So here’s a little guy to go with your morning cake:

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when life gives you failed cheese curds, make muffins

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Following Miss Fat’s second attempt to make homemade mozzarella, she was left with about 10 cups of messy, disgusting-looking failed curds and whey.  Despite the fact that it looked like vomit (see above), she was hell bent on not wasting another half gallon of milk.  So Miss Fats thought she’d try to save the situation and adapt a recipe she had sitting around for cottage cheese muffins.  They ended up to be delightful little snacks.  Enjoy the recipe below for all your future cheese making fails.

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Cheese Fail Muffin Recipeadapted from cottage cheese muffins recipe
makes 5 muffins
the spices used below can easily be altered: choose whatever you like!

1/2 c. cheese curd mess
1/2 c. almond meal
1 heaping tbs. flour
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
2 tbs. whey from cheese curd mess
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch chili powder
pinch red pepper flake
pinch thyme

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin pan with liners.

2. Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl (yep. it’s literally that easy.) Spoon into prepared muffin pan, fill approximately 3/4. Sprinkle a little parmesan cheese over top.

3. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Miss Fats enjoyed these so much that she saved a disgusting jar of cheese fail for future muffins!

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