Cook's Country (May/June 2011)
We've been to our fair share of coffee shops. So we were already familiar with the glories of the Morning Glory Muffin before seeing them featured in the most recent Cook's Country.
If you're not familiar with them (several friends we've discussed them with over the last week haven't been), they're those beautiful, carrot-studded concoctions of fruit and nuts, typically filled with raisins, cinnamon, walnuts and pieces of carrot. They're like the breakfast equivalent of a Compost Cookie -- a little bit of everything thrown in.
Now, we're not usually muffin people. Breakfast around our house typically consists of protein shakes or oatmeal. On weekends we'll usually make some kind of eggs or the occasional pancake or waffle.
But the arrival of guests is a great time to break out of your breakfast tradition. So when Zach's mom visited recently, we seized on the opportunity to make muffins.
Making from-scratch muffins in the morning can be a bit daunting. We had planned to actually make our batter the previous night, and then bake them in the morning. But a mean game of Scrabble caused the night to get away from us. (We are so wild and crazy!) So we bounded out of bed the next morning and got to baking: a dangerous thing with little coffee in our systems.
These muffins are a tad more complex to make than other muffins. But we were happy to go to the extra effort after reading the accompanying piece about developing the recipe. The author, Sarah Gabriel, set out to create a better Morning Glory that has less fat (many recipes call for large amounts of oil), is less sweet (it's a muffin, not a cupcake) and whose finished product has lots of flavor, but avoids a common problem of soggy nuts and coconut pieces.
Some of the fixes here are pretty ingenious. Coconut and walnuts, for instance, are still incorporated, but after they're toasted they're pulverized into powder, which keeps them from getting soggy in the batter.
But this is also the only quibble we have with the recipe. We're used to Morning Glory muffins full of different textures -- packed with crunchy nuts, plump raisins and shreds of carrot and coconut. These muffins ended up a little more homogenized in terms of texture, which was a tiny bit of a letdown. But the truth is, those different textures can just as quickly become disappointments on their own. Too often, the muffins end up with soggy nuts, limp carrots and tired strands of coconut. The tradeoff here is worth it -- you may have a little less texture, but it's better all around.
We thought that these were excellent muffins. They're moist and flavorful, like a less sweet carrot cake. We especially loved the plump, golden raisins and bits of carrot (although we could have stood more of both). Slathered with a bit of butter and accompanied by a cup of coffee, they're absolutely dynamite.
Makes 12 muffins
Don’t throw away the juice from the can of pineapple; you’ll need it. To toast the coconut and walnuts, place them in a dry skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re golden, about 5 minutes. Cool before grinding them. We prefer golden raisins here, but ordinary raisins will work, too.
¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
½ cup walnuts, toasted
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and shredded
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups shredded carrots (2 to 3 medium)
1 cup golden raisins
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12-cup muffin tin. Process coconut and walnuts in food processor until finely ground. Add flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt and pulse until combined. Transfer mixture to large bowl.
Place pineapple and shredded apple in fine-mesh strainer set over liquid measuring cup. Press fruit dry (juice should measure about 1 cup). Bring juice to boil in large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. Whisk melted butter, cooled juice, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture until combined. Stir in pineapple-apple mixture, carrots, and raisins.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean, 24 to 28 minutes. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack. Serve warm. (Muffins can be stored in airtight container for 3 days.)