Last night’s reading before bed: Brunch: 100 Recipes from Five Points Restaurant, whose acquisition I blogged about just the other day. I drifted off to sleep on a cloud of eggs baked with black beans, lemon-ricotta pancakes, and these glorious muffins. And when I woke up this morning, I knew what I had to do: I had to bake.
While S continued to snooze, I creamed together butter and light brown sugar, added eggs and vanilla, then flour, then spices and baking soda, and finally the star ingredients: applesauce, walnuts, and raisins. The instructions themselves were a bit unusual—in most cases it’s a simple matter of combining dry ingredients and wet ones separately, then mixing them all together, but as you’ll see in this case it’s more of a one-at-a-time proposition. Until I stirred in the applesauce, in fact, I was a little worried—it’s quite a stiff, muscular batter, too stiff for my silicone spatula (though all the spices had me swooning just from smelling it). I had to call in the big guns, a heavy-duty plastic spatula that doesn’t give an inch. Once the applesauce went in, though, the batter became very nearly fluffy. And the end result: scrumptious! These are some of the best muffins I have ever made: exquisitely tender, bursting with flavor, moist, satisfying… I could go on and on.
A couple of notes: Since it’s my kitchen and I’m on a perpetual diet, of course I tinkered a bit with the recipe. I used less butter and more applesauce and egg whites in place of one egg, and since I got a Penzeys delivery yesterday, I added ¼ t. of cardamom. Also, the book says this recipe makes 12 muffins or 24 mini-muffins; I had so much batter left after filling my 12 muffin cups that I also made 12 minis. Not sure exactly what happened there, or how to reduce the quantities to make only 12, but they taste so gall-darned great we don’t mind having a few more than we expected!
Adapted from Brunch: 100 Recipes from Five Points Restaurant
Makes 12 full-size muffins PLUS 12 minis (or 18 full-size)
¾ cup light brown sugar
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, preferably at room temp [I used 6 T.]
2 eggs [I used 2 egg whites + 1 whole egg]
½ t. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. ground allspice
[I also added ¼ t. ground cardamom]
1 cup natural (or homemade) applesauce [I used 1 ¼ cups, in place of some butter]
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
1 cup golden raisins [I used regular brown ones]
Preheat oven to 350. On high speed, cream the sugar with the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer; give the machine 3 to 4 minutes to incorporate the sugar into room temperature butter, and 5 to 8 minutes for colder-than-room temperature butter. Grease the muffin tins with cooking spray.
Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture and beat for 30 seconds to incorporate them. Mix in the flour. Stir in the baking soda and spices last, then gently fold in the applesauce, walnuts, and raisins.
Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full and set the tins in the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes [my mini-muffins took 22, and the full-size ones took 25], until the muffins are light golden brown and firm to the touch. Unmold and serve warm or at room temperature. Best the day they’re made, these muffins will keep overnight or up to 24 hours, stored in an airtight container.