November 19, 2011

Mettlesome Muffins

Robin, 18 June 2011, ‘Really Ratbaggy Weather and Suitable Distractions’

1 egg

3 T butter

¾ c strong tea

1/3 to ½ c honey:  this is going to vary both with how sweet you want your muffins and how runny your honey is.  I’m always going on in my recipes about how individual ingredients vary.  Honey more so than most.  Honey is actually fairly tricky to bake with, but muffins are pretty accommodating.

Melt the butter, let cool;  beat the egg, add the honey, then the tea, then the melted butter.

1-2 c wholemeal/wholewheat flour.  You want about 1 ½ c flour total, but if you want to use some white flour to lighten it, use up to ½ c.

½ c (dry) oatmeal

1 T baking powder

If you like cinnamon (I often put cinnamon in my tea), you can add 1 tsp ground

Mix all this dry stuff together, then stir in quickly to the wet.  I recommend using a whisk.  It’s true that lumps will (probably) bake out, but they make me nervous.†††

Plop in about 12 muffin cups, which you’ve either buttered first or put paper muffin cups in.  About 20 minutes at 400°F.  They should puff up beautifully, and the tops should be pretty hard.  And if you wanted to brush them, when they come out of the oven, with a little honey thinned with a little water, that would be good too.  If you want to you can run them back in the oven again for just about a minute more, to get a nice crackly effect from the honey wash.

††† I personally think the whole ‘don’t overbeat your muffin batter’ is kind of a bugbear.  But it’s true you beat only minimally, unlike a cake batter, say, where you want to see the batter change colour.

Minty fudgy brownies

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 14 Aug 10

Adapted from some cookie book that once belonged to a roommate… Biggest changes – I use more/different chocolate, add mint chips, and take out some of the sugar.

6-8 oz semisweet chocolate (regular chocolate chips work fine)
3-4 oz dark chocolate ( >60% cocoa preferred)
2-3 oz mint chips (Guittard is the only brand I’ve found, but there may be others – tend to be easier to find around Xmas time)
1/2 c butter (I usually use just a little bit less)
1 – 1 1/3 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
1 1/4 cup flour
1 t vanilla
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°.

Put butter, chocolate and mint chips in a saucepan on low heat. Let it all melt together (taking the time to let it melt into a really smooth mix is better than being impatient and letting it stay a little chunky). Remove from heat.

Add eggs and vanilla, mix well. Add sugar and salt, mix well. Add flour and baking powder, mix well.

Pour into a greased 13×9″ pan (or if you really want thick brownies, I have done this in a 9×9″ pan a couple times and it worked). Bake about 25 min – you want it to look *just* barely unfinished when you take ’em out of the oven. Have some patience and let them cool and set.

Cut ’em up and eat.

Mild variation – Either leave aside some of the chocolate and mint chips, or in addition to above measured quantities – mix some chips into batter with the flour, so then you get little chocolate chunks in the brownies.

The better the quality of the starting chocolate, the better the end product. It was quite startling how much of an impact this makes, the first time I discovered this.

I also make brownies with just semisweet (more or less the original recipe), or 50:50 mix of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate (depends on the audience). When I first added mint chips, I did 50:50 semisweet chocolate and mint, but discovered that using quite a bit less mint chips had almost as much impact, and allowed the brownies to be chocolaty-er. But proportions really depend on who I’m making the brownies for.

I also experimented with using chocolate chips and peppermint extract at one point when I couldn’t find mint chips, then I dropped and broke the bottle one day before I figured out the correct amount of extract, and discovered mint chips at the store a couple weeks later, and stocked up.

Chocolate, Cranberry and Almond Muffins

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 13 Aug 10

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 oz butter
3/4 cup milk
1 heaped tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips (preferably dark chocolate!)
1/2 cup almonds
1 cup cranberries, chopped roughly

Heat oven to: 180C/355F/Gas Mark 4
Makes 12-16

– Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix well.
– In a larger bowl, cream the sugar and the butter.
– Add the chocolate chips, cranberries and almonds and mix slightly, being careful not to squash the berrries too much.
– add the milk and then the flour mix.
– stir together until mixed, but do not over work.
– Spoon into muffin cases
– bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top
– cool on a rack for as long as you can keep your fingers off them!


Dawn Flambe Surprise Muffins

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 12 Aug 10

I thought I’d better make up the recipe to go with the name (seems right, for Sunshine, to make up a recipe). After some thought I decided it would work better to flambe muffins, or a mixture on top of muffins – so I took a stock muffin recipe and fiddled with it a bit – changing spices, quantity of butter (increased by half) and amount of sugar (reduced – I know, Sunshine wouldn’t have, but I like the effect). Oh yes, and adding fruit, pecans or walnuts, and chocolate.

So, muffin mix:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons (tsp) baking powder
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 cup chopped canned peaches (fresh would probably work even better but I’m working with what’s in the cupboard mid-winter)
1/4 to 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate (I used 60% cocoa)
zest of one mandarin (this really lightens up the flavour, so to speak)

Mix wet ingredients, add dry ingredients and stir through fruit, choc and nuts at the end just before putting into muffin tins – with paper cups so you can remove and flambe them with ease. Bake at 200 degrees C for 20 minutes. Try not to eat them before applying flambe mix (this is tough, I lost three to sampling before getting the mix on).

So, while the muffins baked, I made a quick sticky fruit mixture to flambe. This turns out to be the tricky bit (for someone who hasn’t done much flambe cooking anyway). I wanted to use raspberries, but only had peaches and a mixed berry combo with black currants, raspberries and blueberries. Actually the blackcurrants gave the mix a lovely zing that contrasts well with the muffins.

Berry flambe mix
1 cup berry mix
1/4 cup peaches
3 tablepoons soft brown sugar (molasses sugar might be a good substitute)
75 grams butter
brandy or amaretto to flambee

Melt together in a saucepan until berries are mushy but still holding their shape. Remove from heat, stir through liqueur of choice – I found some apricot liqueur, but brandy or amaretto would also work well.
Apply about a tablespoon of mix to each muffin just before it is consumed, making sure there is a small hollow in the middle of the mixture to contain the alcohol, and light! (Don’t eat until the flames have gone out of course). … I should mention that it took several goes for me to get the brandy to light. So much for instant vampire flambe.

Honey Cake

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 11 Aug 10

1/2 cup honey (I’d recommend a light honey: clove or orange blossom)
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, warm
Additional flavorings optional (i.e. vanilla, citrus zest)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together honey and butter. Mix in eggs. In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.
Alternate mixing in a portion of dry ingredients with the warm milk until you have a smooth batter. The alternating is to keep it from lumping, which it will!
Here is where you would add any flavorings you desired.
Pour into loaf pan or an 8-in cake pan or cupcake pan, which ever is your preference. (Personal note: I’d not recommend the loaf pan, it tends to be too deep and the cake doesn’t always bake through but sometimes it does come out wonderfully…it’s finicky). Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the top is firm when tapped.

Bloody Doomsday Chocolate Raspberry Swirl (Vampire) Muffins

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 11 Aug 10

300 gr’ dark chocolate
200 gr’ butter
1.5 cups white flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
pinch of salt
1 tbsp brandy (or liqueur of choice)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (the real thing!)
1 tsp. baking powder
chocolate chips (optional)
raspberry preserves

Melt 200 gr’ chocolate, butter and sugar until smooth. add brandy (I used Drambuie cause I have no brandy at home just now) and vanilla. Add eggs gradually, then flour, salt and baking powder. Mix until smooth. Break apart the last 100 gr’ of chocolate into chunks and mix in.
Pour mixture into muffin tin (I use silicone), then swirl a bit of the raspberry preserves into each muffin. Bake for 20-25 mins at medium heat and enjoy!

A second option is to sprinkle the chocolate chips after swirling the preserves in, or to bake the mixture for 10-15 mins and only then add the preserves by injection. I made a couple of fang holes and filled them with the preserves. Just a suggestion – everything works here.

Ellen Donald Mount’s Pound Cake

Abigailmm in ‘Sunshine Contest – Round 2’, 9 Aug 10

nothing extreme here, no two or three cups of heavy cream. “Cake” in our family basically means this cake.

2 cups sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) butter (REAL BUTTER, preferably unsalted)
6 eggs
1 tsp. lemon extract (almond also works)
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
2 cups flour

Butter and flour a tube (angel-food) cakepan. Helps to have the kind where the center lifts out, or cut parchment to fit the bottom.
Preheat oven to 350°F

Cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Add lemon extract, then add eggs one at a time, beating 1 minute on high after adding each egg.

Add flour and nutmeg, mix on low just until blended in, pour the fairly thick batter into cakepan, and bake for 50-60 minutes. Don’t open the oven to check till at least the 50 minutes is up. It should rise up, cracking the first crusting, and then bake and set so that toothpick comes out dry. Sometimes for no discernible reason it falls down again. Never mind, it tastes just as good.

It was offered for sale by the slice at our Unitarian Fellowship’s fundraising craft sale in the 50s. One woman, seeing the nutmeg, said, “Mrs. Mount, you’ve got weevils in the flour.” Grandmother was livid – “It’s the NUTMEG!” I don’t remember if there was any later fallout from this – it had been a gracious gesture for my Presbyterian grandmother to make these cakes for that free-thinking group her daughter had gotten mixed up in. But ever after, someone tends to ask me if I remembered to put in the weevils.

Old Fashioned Blueberry Cake

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 8 Aug 10

The best way to eat blueberries…..

Preheat oven to 350

3 C flour
2 C sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 C berries
2 eggs
1 C milk
1/3 C veg oil
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients (except berries) in large bowl with electric mixer until fully combined. Fold in berries, Spread evenly in 9 x 13 pan.

Top with 1/2 C sugar, 3/4 tsp nutmeg (combined), sprinkle evenly over batter

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes

This comes out somewhere between a cake and coffee cake is best enjoyed for breakfast with coffee or milk or an afternoon snack with tea.

Other berries can be substituted, raspberries and blackberries are especially good and the note from my mom says to try strawberries. I haven’t yet as I love strawberries so much they rarely sit around long enough to be baked.

Betty’s Butterscotch Brownies

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 8 Aug 10

Betty was my Mom. That was actually the name she was given at birth, and she always hated it when people thought it was short for Elizabeth. Her childhood friends used to call her “Lizz” just to watch her steam!

I have come to dislike dark chocolate because it’s likely to give me migraines. When you begin to associate a taste with pain, it stops tasting quite so good. Mom was excellent at coming up with goodies I could happily eat.

These are chewy brownies, not the soft cake kind. This recipe probably originally came from a can or box or some other kind of label, because a lot of Mom’s recipes did, but I have no idea what. At any rate it’s been modified: among other things, the original called for 1/4 cup oil but I replaced half of it with yogurt.

Do not get the bright idea of using “butterscotch” chips in these. Commercial “butterscotch chips” are awful. We tried it: we know. The flavor called butterscotch is actually a combination of molasses and vanilla and caramelized sugar, so it’s there already when these ingredients are mixed.


2 Tablespoons cooking oil (flavored oil would probably be yummy)

1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt

1 packed cup of light brown sugar (OR: 1 cup white sugar, 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses. Yes, TEAspoon, it’s strong stuff. I usually do it this way because I don’t bake that often and brown sugar solidifies into concrete if you keep it around too long.)

1 egg

3/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 by 8 inch pan.

Blend oil, yogurt and brown sugar. Add the egg.

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt thoroughly (the recipe originally said to sift them, but my Mom was a maverick and declared that she never bothered to sift flour and could never see any difference). Add blended dry ingredients to wet ingredients.

Add the vanilla and nuts.

Pour into greased pan and bake for 25 minutes. Makes 16 at about 140 calories each (by my calculation).

Key Lime Cheesecake

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 8 Aug 10

My Key Lime Cheesecake is an unbaked cheesecake, so it’s not for anyone who’s leery of uncooked eggs. I’ve been making this for the past 9 years and no one has ever gotten sick from it, so …

I’ve adapted this from several cheesecake recipes that I found online.

Use a 9-inch pie pan.

Crust – I use a standard graham cracker crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
1 c graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbs white granulated sugar
1/4 c butter, melted

Mix the cracker crumbs and sugar in the pie pan, pour in the melted butter and mix thoroughly, then pat into the pan; it’ll be a fairly thin crust, the idea is to have just enough to hold in the cheesecake. Bake for 5 minutes and let it cool.

1 envelope (or 2 1/2 tsp) unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup key lime juice
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup white granulated sugar
8 oz tub-style cream cheese
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp key lime zest
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups whipped cream

1. In a medium saucepan, dissolve the gelatin in the key lime juice for 3 minutes. Add 1 cup sugar, the zest, and the 2 beaten eggs.

2. Heat on stove at medium heat, while stirring, and cook for 10 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Slowly add the lime mixture and beat on low until smooth. Refrigerate the mixture until it’s thoroughly cooled, stirring it every 10 minutes.

4. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy or until soft peaks form. Slowly add the 3/4 cup sugar until incorporated.

5. Fold the egg white mixture into the chilled lime-cream cheese mix, and pour into the prepared crust.

6. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

7. Spread whipped cream over the cheese cake before serving.

If you can’t find fresh key limes, use the bottled key lime juice and grate the zest of a regular lime.

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