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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Morning Glory Muffins

For Christmas my brother gave me an amazing cookbook - The Best of America's Test Kitchen: the year's best recipes, equipment reviews and tastings 2007. I'm an idiot and didn't know what America's Test Kitchen is but now I do. These are the guys who do Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country magazines, and the PBS show "America's Test Kitchen." They have a 2,500 sq foot test kitchen near Boston where two dozen test chefs work full time year round testing and perfecting recipes. Some have been tested 20, 30 or 40 times to get them absolutely perfect. Nice to have someone else do it since I hate nothing more than working hard to chop, puree, fold, and dice, and dirtying every bowl I have only to have a recipe fail.

So every time I flip through the book my mouth waters and I finally got around to trying a recipe tonight: Morning Glory Muffins. I was looking for something to use shredded carrots in, since I have half a bag leftover from making Rachael Ray's "Curry-in-a-Hurry Chicken Salad" (which by the way is really good, especially the mango chutney salad dressing...) a few weeks ago. Sometimes Ed is in a hurry out the door in the morning; it's nice to have muffins around that he can grab and go, so I'm always looking for good recipes to try. And so far the book has lived up to its name. These muffins came out perfect - great texture, not too dry nor too moist, fabulous flavor and extremely aromatic.

Before I give you the recipe let me just mention a few little changes I made to make them my own:
  • left out the coconut because I don't like it
  • 2 tsp instead of 1 tsp of vanilla - Dave taught me the great trick of always doubling vanilla in recipes
  • salted instead of unsalted butter just because that's what I had; didn't notice the difference in taste
  • added a dash of freshly grated nutmeg - I add it to anything I can
  • my oven runs hot so they were done in only 22 minutes
  • instead of raisins I used Trader Joe's "Golden Blend", which has dried golden raisins, cherries, blueberries and cranberries - YUM!

Morning Glory Muffins
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 carrots, peeled & grated (2 cups)
1 (8-0unce) can of crushed pineapple, drained and pressed dry with paper towels
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins

1. Adjust an oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375. Coat 12-cup muffin tin with spray or line with paper cups.
2. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop.
3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla until smooth. Gently fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined. Fold the carrots, pineapple, coconut, raisins, and toasted nuts into the batter.
5. Use a large ladle or measuring cup to divide the batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes.
6. Let muffins cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then flip out onto wire rack. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Let me know if anyone tries them!
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