Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blueberry Almond Scuffins

I was trying to decide between making scones and muffins because both sounded equally good to me.  The tender buttery flakiness of a scone vs the cakiness of a was a tough descision!  I asked my friends on Facebook which they preferred and the poll was equally divided.  So I thought, why not do a hybrid of a scone and a muffin!  A scuffin! 

What was the worst that could happen, they didn't quite turn out and I would be left with a tasty mistake.  I decided to take my basic scone recipe and bake it in muffin tins, because doing so would change the texture slightly to make it more muffin like but still buttery and with the delicious qualities of a scone.  But what type to make?  My Dad insisted I make blueberry muffins...cutting the scone out alltogether.  This was no shock to me because one of my earliest memories was of my Dad making blueberry muffins on a weekend morning and enjoying them with breakfast.  Granted he was no baker, but I still loved them as a child and at least he was making an effort.  This weekend I decided to use his idea of including blueberries, but they are out of season right now in Minnesota and the ones that are available at the store are flavorless.  I could have gone for organic frozen berries, but I opted instead for the dried, because those I did have.  I thought the dried blueberries would be lovely with toasted almonds in the scones with a hint of lemon zest. 

The scuffins baked up wondefully and smelled heavenly!  One good thing about them is they took less time to bake, as they were a little smaller than my usual scones.  I did not wait long for them to cool before I popped one out of the tin with a knife and devoured it.  This is why I burn my mouth so many times, but not this time thankfully!  What I had created was every good thing about a scone and a muffin...still buttery and flaky, but also muffinlike, and a nice crispy top!  The flavor was wonderful with the blueberries and toastyness of the almonds with a hint of lemon!  It was a good thing I made a double batch because I had promised to share some and there would not have been any left if I had made a single!  Can't decide between scones and muffins, make scuffins!   

Blueberry Almond Scuffins
Makes 12

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup maple sugar, or granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick cold Earth Balance vegan butter, cut into chunks
1 cup cold full fat coconut milk (chilled in the fridge is best), mixed well
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 cup dried blueberries
coconut milk for brushing
turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 with the rack set at the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture starts to clump into pea sized pieces. In a small bowl, stir the vanilla into the coconut milk. Add the milk to the dough, and stir a few times, but do not overmix. The dough should hold together when squeezed, but still be clumpy. fold in blueberries and almonds until evenly distributed. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray, and drop the scone batter into the holes dividing evenly between them. Brush the tops with the coconut milk, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 12

Monday, January 17, 2011

Little Almond Poppyseed Muffins

My Mom has always told me about this really good almond poppyseed cake my Great Grandma used to make.  She described it as having a delicate but present almond flavor with a hint of lemon, and loaded with lots of wonderful poppyseeds in a moist dense cake.  This cake was a layer cake and was very beautiful with cream cheese frosting.  I have never seen this cake, because by the time I met my Great Grandma, she was in a nursing home and no longer baking wonderful cakes.  She has since died, and we do not have the recipe.  But all of those wonderful flavors in the cake sounded so good to me that I thought they would be perfect in a muffin!  The muffins would be much simpler to make, and a lot faster, but still just as delicious!  I decieded to make them in a mini muffin tin, because I like little cute things.  Not to mention that it is an excuse to eat much for portion control!  I was going to skip the cream cheese frosting this time however, since I didn't have any and simply sprinkle the muffins with turbinado sugar for crunch.  I my vanilla vegan muffin recipe but replaced the coconut milk with almond milk and added a good amount of almond extract for an heavenly almond flavor.   Also, I made sure to add plenty of poppyseeds and a little lemon juice, so it would be just as flavorful as my Great Grandma's cake.  The muffins smelled wonderful, and filled my kitchen with the aroma of almonds, somewhat remeniscent of a Christmas cookie!  I had to try a warm one right out of the oven and it was wonderful...bright almond flavor with crunchy poppyseeds in a moist cake!  I gave my Mom some to sample and she loved them, saying they had just as good of a flavor, if not better than her Grandma's cake.  My Mom has always been an almond lover though, so maybe she is biased.  Whatever the case, they were delicious, and if you would like to enjoy some as well try this recipe out!

Little Almond Poppyseed Muffins
makes 12 mini muffins

3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup maple sugar or granulated sugar
2 Tbsp poppyseeds
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp lemon juice or cider vinegar
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Spray a 12 cup mini muffin tin with nonstick spray in the holes.  Whisk flour, baking soda, sea salt, sugar and poppyseeds in a large bowl to blend well. Whisk oil, milk, vanilla and almond extract together in small bowl to blend well, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended. Whisk in lemon juice and stir quickly (pale swirls will be in the batter, which is the baking soda reacting with the vinegar, which allows the cake to rise since there are no eggs). Spoon the batter into prepared tins filling each 2/3 full, sprinkle each with turbinado sugar, and bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lemon Cream Pie Martini

It is the perfect time of year to use lemons in dessert.  Their sunny yellow color and bright tart flavor bring a bit of sunshine to otherwise cold winter days.  This is why I thought they would be perfect in a dessert like drink I was creating.  I was thinking some lemon cream pie sounded awfully good...but didn't want to go through the trouble of making one, so I put all the flavors of the pie into a cocktail!  Why not have my drink and dessert at the same time! 

I used coconut milk to make it creamy, and fresh lemon to give it that tart flavor along with vanilla bean syrup to sweeten.  The result was a delicious drink that brought a bit of sunshine to my taste buds!  If you wanted a non-alchoholic version, you could substitute some lite coconut milk for the vodka, and add a little more lemon.  Try this drink out to chase away the winter blahs! 

Lemon Cream Pie Martini
Makes 1

4-6 large ice cubes
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 oz Prairie Organic Vodka
1 oz lemon infused vodka
3 Tbsp vanilla bean syrup*
2 Tbsp full fat coconut milk
1 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
lemon zest for garnish

In a martini shaker add the ice, vodka, vanilla bean syrup, coconut milk, and lemon juice place top on shaker. Shake until well blended. Pour through a strainer into a chilled martini glass, garnish with the lemon zest and serve!

*Vanilla Bean Syrup:
Combine 1/2 cup agave nectar with 1/2 cup boiling water, and one vanilla bean split.  Stir to dissolve agave, and let sit to let flavor of vanilla bean infuse into the syrup.  After a few hours remove the bean.  Store in the fridge in a jar or bottle.