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Entries in Muffins (4)


Apricot Almond & Cherry Almond Muffins

The one problem I've found with my new job is that my route to work passes directly by my favorite bakery in the city, The Wooden Spoon.  If you live in Denver and haven't been in, its a must visit in the Highlands.  It's the only bakery I've found in Denver that rivals Flour in Boston.

But I digress.  The problem with passing The Wooden Spoon twice a day is that it is hard to resist the siren call of freshly-baked muffins, scones, croissant, and cookies.  Who wants to eat a Greek yogurt at their desk for breakfast when they could eat a mixed berry scone instead?  

After one to many visits to The Wooden Spoon, I took matters into my own hands and made muffins at home.  I wasn't looking for the healthiest muffins (if you want healthy and SUPER delicious, make these Carrot Quinoa Muffins), but something that I wouldn't feel guilty eating for breakfast and that tastes great.  This recipe is based on a Flour recipe from this cookbook, but I've made it healthier by substituting 0% Fat Plain Greek Yogurt and buttermilk for whole milk and creme fraiche and decreasing the sugar.  I don't think you sacrifice flavor at all and still have what Joanne Chang declares in her cookbook as "The muffin recipe to end all muffin recipes."  

I went a bit overboard at the farmer's market and had both apricots and cherries that needed to be used, so I made a double-batch of muffins.  You could omit the almonds, but they are a wonderful compliment to stone fruit such as apricots and cherries.  It turns out that this is because amonds and stone fruit are related -- if you crack open the pits of stone fruit, you'll find a soft, small kernel that looks, smells, and tastes like almond! However, don't eat the kernels as they may release a very small amount of cynanide into the body!

Apricot Almond and Cherry Almond Muffins
Adapted from The Flour Bakery cookbook 
Yield = 18-24 muffins 

A few notes.  First, this recipe is easily adaptable.  I made it both with cherries and almonds and you could easily subsitute other fruit.  For example, the original recipe is for a raspberry-rhubarb version (1 cup raspberries, 1 cup rhubarb).  Second, with the Apricot Almond Muffins, I filled the muffin tin as instructed to almost overflowing.  With the Cherry Almond Muffins, I filled each to about 3/4 full.  This yielded about 24 muffins and I liked the slightly smaller size.  However, if you want a big muffin with a huge mushroom-esque top, fill them to the brim!

3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 cups non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups diced apricots (approximately 5 apricots) OR 1 1/2 cups pitted, chopped cherries

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins (if you have 2), coat the non-stick cooking spray, or line with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until thoroughly mixed.  Slowly whisk in the sugar, butter, buttermilk, Greek yogurt, and almond extract until well combined.  Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold gently just until the ingredients are combined.

3. Gently fold in the almonds and the apricots or cherries until evenly distributed.  The batter may seem lumpy, but don't try to smooth it out.  The batter can be made up to 1 day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

4.  Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups 3/4 full.  This yielded 18 muffins for me.  The original recipe asks you to fill the muffin cups until almost overflowing.  I did this the first time around and it create quite a mess - I thought 3/4 full and getting a few extra muffins was the better way to go. 


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Our vacation last week kicked off in Aspen with an all-day trail run/hike around the Maroon Bells.  The views are dramatic and the peaks are steep... and we learned a lesson the hard way about winging it when trail running in the mountains and ended up on an adventure that lasted three times as long as we originally planned.

Thankfully, I had greedily stashed a delicious and filling pumpkin chocolate chip muffin in my backpack from the Aspen Farmer's Market earlier that morning.  The plan was to just peruse the market rather than to buy, but I couldn't resist the table of muffins and pastries.  I think about about hour four of running, Rob wished he hadn't resisted (don't worry, I set aside my only child tendencies and shared the muffin).

Pumpkin is one of my favorite foods.  I look forward to fall each year - pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin lattés.  After savoring the muffin on our Aspen adventure, I had to try my hand an recreating the muffins at home.  The recipe I used comes from the Baking from the Heart cookbook and the contributor of this particular recipe is Joanna Chang of Flour Cafe & Bakery in Boston fame (I've posted about her banana bread here).  These take a matter of minutes to put together and make a great treat for breakfast (yes, I'll eat a muffin which chocolate chips for breakfast... I can tell you are judging).

The only significant change I made to the recipe was inspired by this month's Fine Cooking magazine, which included an article on baking with olive oil.  While the magazine cautions against substituting olive oil for butter when the butter is to be creamed, I found that it worked extremely well in this instance - the resulting muffins were surprisingly light and flavorful.  If you'd prefer to only use butter, the original recipe called for only 1/2 cup.  Happy fall!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from Baking from the Heart
Yield = 1 dozen muffins 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup solid packed, canned pumpkin puree (1 15-ounce can)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Place rack in the middle of the oven. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non-stick vegetable spray.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ground spices, and salt.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and pumpkin puree in three additions, beginning with the flour mixture.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  

Fill the muffin cups evenly with the batter using two spoons or an ice cream scoop.  Place muffins in the oven and bake for about 18 -20 minutes, or until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean.  Place the muffins on a wire rack to cool.


Blueberry Muffins Two Ways


On our trip to Alaska earlier this summer, we made some wonderful new friends and were lucky enough to enjoy a few meals with them.  These friends are vegan and it was inspiring to see the amazing and delicious meals they have without including any animal products.  I've been trying to work in more vegetarian meals into our week and when I was perusing Gwenyth Paltrow's cookbook the other night I came across her two recipes for blueberry muffins.  She calls one "blythe's blueberry muffins" and the other "healthier version of the blueberry muffins".  Blythe's version contains the usual butter, eggs, sugar, milk and all-purpose flour whereas the healthier version includes spelt flour, soy milk, maple syrup and agave nectar.  I was intrigued... and I happened to have enough blueberries on hand to try both.  Taste test time!

Rob is my opinionated taster who lacks a filter, which I appreciate in the kitchen.  He sampled both of the batters for the muffins, as well as doing a taste test this morning.  I wish I could say that the healthier muffins won, but they didn't... that said, they were quite tasty and had they not been sampled before or after the full-fat version, I don't know that you would think they were anything but delicious!

I've made minor adjustments to both recipes.  For blythe's muffins, I used low fat buttermilk in lieu of 2% or whole milk.  In the healthier version, GP called for 1 cup whole spelt flour and 1 cup white spelt flour - I only had white so I used 2 cups of white.  Aside from a difference in taste, the major difference I noticed between the muffins was that the blythe muffins rose considerably more (and therefore were larger) than the healthier muffins... that is about it!  The Blythe muffins are pictured on the left above and the healthier version is on the right.

Blythe's Blueberry Muffins
Yield = 1 dozen muffins
Active time = 15 minutes; Total time = 45 minutes


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 eggs (preferably organic)
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries


 Heat your oven to 375°.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.  Whisk butter, eggs and buttermilk in a bowl.  Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in another bowl.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients; fold in blueberries.  Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Bake until muffins are golden brown and a knife comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.  Serve warm.

Healthier Version of the Blueberry Muffins

Yield = 1 dozen muffins
Active time = 15 minutes; Total time = 45 minutes


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup light agave nectar
  • cups white spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries


Preheat the oven to 375°.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.  Whisk oil, soymilk, maple syrup and agave nectar in a bowl.  Combine spelt flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients; fold in blueberries.  Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Bake until muffins are golden brown and a knife comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.  Serve warm.


Colorado Wildflowers & Baked Oatmeal Cups

I've written before about my inability to sit down at home to eat breakfast and it isn't something I am working to change.  It is what it is.  I strongly prefer to sleep an extra fifteen minutes instead of eating sitting down or making breakfast in the morning, but it is next to impossible to find healthy breakfast options on-the-go.  I always love eating oatmeal, but then you have to microwave it, get out the milk, find something yummy to mix into it.... you get the point.  I am lazy in the morning!  Enter this recipe for baked oatmeal cups!  Oatmeal on the go, pre-flavored and with fruit baked in?  Yes, please!

These couldn't be simpler to make.  Everything can be mixed in one bowl and you can adapt the recipe to include whatever fruit you have on hand and sweeten the oatmeal to your preference.  The oatmeal cups definitely taste healthy (like oatmeal does), but a quick 30 seconds in the microwave and you have a healthy breakfast that you can eat on the move.

We went on a beautiful hike today up Rosalie Peak in the Mt. Evans Wilderness west of Denver.  The wildflowers were spectacular, as were the views from the top of the peak.  We both started our day with an oatmeal cup... and both wished we had a few more on-hand as the hike dragged into its fifth hour and we were out of food and water!  We saw wild strawberries and roses, a marmot, white-tailed ptarmigan and a jack rabbit... and I managed to fall twice!  This is what we get for running where most people walk (and, let's be honest, I am klutzy).

A few thoughts about the recipe... first, definitely use paper liners for ease of eating and easy clean up.  Second, you can use any fruit you have available.  I bet these would also be great with slivered or sliced almonds or walnuts as well.  Third, substitute the milk for whatever type you like best - I used soy milk because we were out of skim milk and the oatmeal cups were great.   Fourth, I used only ⅓ cup of brown sugar... but if you've read any of my other recipes, we are a "less sweet is better" family.  Definitely increase the amount of sugar you use if you like a lot of sugar in your oatmeal.  Finally, these don't rise or increase in size during baking so feel free to fill the cups to the brim.

Baked Oatmeal Cups
Adapted from Door-to-Door Organics
Yield = 14 cups 


  • 1⅓ cups fresh cherries, pitted and chopped
  • 1 fresh peach, diced into ½ pieces
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (without any fruit).  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until combined.  Fold in the fruit.  Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray or insert a paper liner (recommended) into each cup.  Fill each cup 2/3 full (or a bit more if you'd like).  Bake the cups at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and no longer wet from the egg mixture.  Cool for at least 10 minutes, particularly if you do not use paper liners.