January Muffins

January, in the northern hemisphere, means the dead of winter. With the dead of winter come three things:

  • Ridiculously, horridly cold weather
  • The urge to eat nothing but carbohydrates and thick soups
  • Bathing suit catalogues

I suppose it’s sort of nice to get the heads up on the whole “bathing suit season is approaching, believe it or not!”.  I would never believe it myself, judging by the measly 3 degrees showing on my Fahrenheit thermometer.  Actually, my thermometer is so cold it doesn’t even know it’s supposed to be showing 3 degrees.  I think the non-mercury liquid froze at around 9 degrees.  And I can’t even bring myself to type the temperature in Celsius because it sounds even worse.  All this before we even factor in the giant wind chill!

Brrr

So, naturally, I want to put my oven on and bake things that will cause my kitchen (and, shortly thereafter, my tummy) to be warm and cosy.  I want to make muffins, specifically.  But muffins and bathing suits are mutually exclusive once you pass the forty mark, which I did a few years ago.  So I have to be careful.

Coincidentally, a few weeks ago, I purchased a bag of frozen mango on my last Trader Joe’s run of the year.  I really didn’t have any plans for the mango, but a friend said she liked it and I felt like I would be better off with some in my freezer, too.  And there it sat.  Til today.

Today, I was getting vegetables out of the freezer to force my family to eat something, anything remotely healthy for dinner’s side dish and the mangos fell out of the freezer and onto my foot.  Frozen mangos hurt, even when they fall a relatively short distance onto one’s thickly-slippered foot.  There may have been some cursing.  There may have been some retaliatory recipe-searching.  You mangos, you’ll be sorry…

I decided muffins would happen, after all, and they would include mangos.  But I wanted to watch out for the muffin-top.

the dreaded “Muffin top”

So I searched the internet for a suitable recipe: one low in fat, low in sugar (or with no sugar), but with enough taste and homey goodness that it would satisfy my craving for some comfort food and keep away the winter blues.  I found a close candidate, a near-vegan version.  I added in an egg  (because I like egg in my muffins) and used a tiny bit of OJ to smooth out the puree, since I was using frozen fruit.  I macerated said frozen fruit with a bit of sugar, too.  And I upped the spices a bit and decreased the cooking time.

An hour later, three things happened:

  • My kitchen smelled wonderful
  • My tummy was happy
  • Those mangoes got their comeuppance

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January Muffins adapted from Alisa Cooks’ Honey-Vanilla Mango Muffin recipe

  • 2 cups of flour (I used whole-wheat pastry flour, as called for in the original recipe. )
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 (24 oz) bag of frozen mango chunks: reserve 1/2 cup and dice it finely, the remainder will eventually be pureed
  • 1 T sugar
  • about 1 T orange juice (or more, as needed)
  • 1/4 cup canola or other neutral oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Prepare muffin tins: I used 10 silicone standard-size cups, plus two 12-cup mini muffin trays with paper liners.  Hope that helps.

Sprinkle the T of sugar over the mango chunks that will be pureed.  Stir to incorporate. Let them stand in a bowl for 30 minutes or so, until they thaw a bit.  This will aid in the puree process.

Turn oven on to 350 degrees F.

Combine dry ingredients and spices, set aside.

Puree the mango (except for the reserved 1/2 cup) with a bit of OJ (I used about a T) in a blender.  When it is nice and smooth, transfer it to a large mixing bowl.  Add the oil, honey, egg and vanilla and blend well.  Stir in the 1/2 cup of diced mango.  Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (this is a basic law of muffin making!  overmixing makes muffins icky!)  Spoon into prepared muffin receptacles.  Bake until done.*

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* this, of course, depends on many factors:  the size of your muffin receptacles, the accuracy of your oven, etc.  I found my mini muffins were done in about 17 minutes.  The larger ones baked for about 23 minutes.  I tend to under-bake things, though, as I find they cook a little more as they cool.
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The original recipe suggests drizzling honey over the baked muffins, but I didn’t think it needed any.

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