Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Perfect Pear Muffins with Sweet Whipped Cinnamon Butter

Breakfast really is for champions. It's the meal that starts the day, starts your body, starts your mood. So, why not make something that nourishes you and makes you feel good, inside and out?

The other morning I had a craving to bake something. My fridge was nearly empty save for some eggs and my variety of gluten-free flours. The freezer had a few items, but nothing breakfast-worthy. And I certainly wasn't in the mood to throw on some clothes just to run to the store while hungry. That's never smart.

So, I did what all hungry people do - I created something with what I had.

I scoured around until I realized I had a couple of cans of pears, plenty of gluten-free flour, the aforementioned eggs, and the basics to make what has become a new favorite - pear muffins.

These little nuggets of yummy muffin-ness teetered, as all muffins do, in the relatively unhealthy realm. I had to make them a little more nutritious if I was going to justify basically eating a modified cupcake for breakfast. Now, in all fairness, my muffin recipe contains half the amount of sugar of most cupcake recipes and I had a solution for the inevitable oil that's usually used heavy-handed: applesauce.

Applesauce as a substitute for oil is an old trick bakers have used to keep baked goods moist and delicious without all the extra added fat and calories. Now, mind you, I am not against fat or calories - we need them both. But, since I had been eating sweets (see Oreo Cupcakes - A Sweet Surprise) in the past week and my fridge truly was bare and devoid of better nutrition, I had to make sure these were actually going to be good for me, as well as delicious.

So, with the mix of protein-rich millet flour and fiber-heavy brown rice flour, alongside heart-healthy applesauce and some yummy pears (as well as edging out a few calories by using water instead of milk), I knew this would be a winning breakfast combo. A great way to start off my day!

And maybe my mid-afternoon too.

Happy eating!

Perfect Pear Muffins with Sweet Whipped Cinnamon Butter

Makes 12 muffins

3/4 cup millet flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp xanthan gum or karaya gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup water, room temperature (or lukewarm)
1/4 cup applesauce (all-natural with no added sugar)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 can pear halves, drained and chopped into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with papers, silicone liners or cooking spray.

2. In a stand mixer, combine the millet flour, brown rice flour, cornstarch, sweet rice flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and nutmeg using the paddle attachment. Add water, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined.

3. Remove bowl from mixer and add diced pears. Fold pears into batter with a spatula just until combined. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, each about two-thirds to three-quarters full. If you have extra batter, you can either make them into mini-muffins or save for another batch.

4. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few crumbs on it (mostly clean). Remove from the oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to finish cooling on a wire rack. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Sweet Whipped Cinnamon Butter

1 cup butter, softened, or natural margarine of choice (I used half Soy-free Earth Balance and half Smart Balance Heart Right Light)
1/3 cup Marshmallow Fluff (I prefer the original brand due to its simple ingredients)
2 tsp powdered sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1. In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, cream the butter or margarine until soft, creamy and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the marshmallow fluff, the powdered sugar and the cinnamon. Whisk on low to combine, then switch to high to incorporate some air, 1-2 minutes. Serve with Perfect Pear Muffins and enjoy!

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