In just one week’s time I came across three references to a new cookbook called Whole Grain Morning, by Megan Gordon. So I had to find out what all the fuss was about. I went to my local big box bookstore and there it was!. Thumbing through it, I found so many interesting recipes for breakfast dishes, all including a variety of grains, that I had to make it mine. It is a well-known fact that your morning meal is the opportune time to load in most of your whole grain needs for the day. Gordon gives many delicious ideas in her book for doing just that. This recipe for pear and hazelnut muffins is only the first of what will most likely be many recipes that I make from this book.
Muffins can be a fusion of many flavors and ingredients, some you wouldn’t think to put together, but somehow they work. And sometimes a muffin will be sweet and cake like resembling dessert. I keep some funny little rules in my head to make the distinction whether a muffin should be breakfast food or eaten at another time, like afternoon tea. The rules that run through my head go something like this:
Whole grains and oats = breakfast
White flour = cake
An egg or two = breakfast
Lots of eggs = cake
Natural sweeteners = breakfast
White sugar = cake
Unsaturated fats = breakfast
Butter = cake
After running through the ingredient list I tally the marks and make a determination as to whether I can pull this off as breakfast. When in doubt or the marks are equal, throw in some bacon, and that definitely swings it over to the side of breakfast. 😀
The Pear and Hazelnut Muffins from Megan Gordon’s beautiful book came out strongly in the breakfast category with oats, whole wheat flour, fruit and nuts. It might have remained there, except for the fact that I added some chocolate. It seemed to me that when you say the words, “pear and hazelnut”, together, something seems to be missing–add the words, “chocolate chunks” and now it becomes a complete sentence. Oh, oh, I guess I need to add chocolate to my list of ingredients acceptable for breakfast. Try as I might, I can’t help tinkering with a recipe. If you’re happy with the recipe sans the chocolate, go for it!!!
Whether you have these for breakfast or dessert, you won’t have any regrets. The combination of ingredients produces a complex flavor that’s far beyond what you would expect to be having for breakfast — grated pear, toasted hazelnuts, vanilla, butter, oats and, yes, chocolate chunks all tangled together in a crunchy muffin that tastes amazing even a day or two after it is baked.
PEAR AND HAZELNUT MUFFINS
Yield: Theoretically, 12 muffins, but I got 18.
- 2 small-medium pears
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cooled slightly
- 2/3 cup natural cane sugar, such as Turbinado, or light brown sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (can replace this with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon)
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips (optional)
1. Heat oven to 425*F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line it with papers.** Have a second tin ready in case you need it,
2. Peel, (if you desire, or can be skipped) pears, then halve and core them. Grate pears on the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl. You should have about a cup, grated. Note: I got this much with just one medium pear. Stir in the melted butter, sugar, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until combined.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices, salt, all but 1/2 cup nuts, and chocolate chunks, if using. Gently fold this dry mixture into the wet batter until just combined; do not overmix.
4. Fill muffin cups almost full and sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup nuts. ( I overlooked this step, and added all the nuts to the batter, so my pics do not show any nuts on top of the muffins,)
Place muffins in oven and immediately reduce the heat to 375*F. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out batter-free.
5. Cool muffins in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Muffins will keep for 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container.
**Point of information: I just bought these parchment paper muffin liners for the first time, and they were wonderful at keeping the muffins from sticking to the paper. The liner removed cleanly with no torn muffins or crumbs clinging to the paper. P.S. I get no compensation for this unsolicited plug.
SOURCE: Whole Grain Mornings, Megan Gordon