Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Apricot-Almond Muffins

A surprise filling of apricot jam awaits inside each of these tasty little muffins. The trick is to make sure the batter completely covers the jam in the middle, so your muffins set properly. Look for jam sweetened with fruit juice, instead of (potentially bone-char filtered) sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed vegan brown sugar
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1 cup vegan buttermilk*
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons vegan sugar
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
1. In a bowl, combine the apricot preserves and almond extract; set aside.

2. Lightly spoon both flours into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine the flours in a bowl with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Make a well in the center of the mixture and set aside.

3. In a second bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and Ener-G eggs.  Add the buttermilk, canola oil, orange rind, and vanilla extract, stirring well.  Add the brown sugar mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

4. Spoon 2 tablespoons batter into each of 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.  Divide the apricot mixture evenly in the center of each muffin cup.

Note: Don't spread the jam to the edges, or it will seep out during baking instead of staying inside the batter. It should just be a dollop like so:


5. Top with the remaining batter.  Sprinkle the muffins evenly with 2 teaspoons sugar and the sliced almonds.


6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes - the muffins should spring back if touched lightly in the center.  Run a knife around the outer edge of the muffin cups and remove from the pans; transfer to a wire rack.


*To prepare the buttermilk, place 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a measuring cup and fill with plain non-dairy milk to equal 1 cup.  Let stand for 5 minutes to clabber (sour) the mixture before adding to the recipe.

Nutrition Info:
12 servings (1 muffin), Calories 209

Tasting Notes:
Tasty, but I definitely wanted even more jam in the center (what little there is mostly bakes into the surrounding batter). I think the trick would be figuring out how to have even more jam without it leaking out during cooking. Alternatively, you might try piping jam into the muffins after they bake, more like a cream-filled cupcake. The toasted almonds and sugar on top were quite nice. These muffins are definitely best served warm.

Rating: 
3.5

Update:
For fun, I decided to try these muffins with a different jam. Trying to think of a flavor I rarely cook with, I settled on the organic Concord grape jelly from Cascadian Farm.


I worried a tad since this jelly was much runnier in consistency than the apricot preserves in my original, and didn't stay in the center of the muffin cups. However, it didn't prove to be a problem during baking, as you can see from the final product:


The bold flavor of the grape jelly was much stronger than the apricot, so I ended up liking this version better.

I also used the opportunity to gently press the almonds into the tops of the muffins before baking this time. This makes a big difference when it comes to helping the almonds set in place, as otherwise they fall off when removing the muffins from the muffin pans.

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