A Muffin Named Desire was one of the first things I learned to bake at the small Italian trattoria where I worked just out of culinary school. Fortunate to be taken on as an assistant pastry chef, I was intrigued by all the pleasure this one simple muffin could give so many people. Chris, my mentor, taught me to fill the batter with rich sour cream , then lace it with cinnamon sugar and candied pecans. We baked them to golden perfection in an ultra hot pizza oven. The effect was incredible: eager customers burst through our doors first thing every morning to collect a cup of rich espresso and this pastry to start their day, desires fulfilled.
The trattoria is no longer there. I’ve moved on to life in the quiet of New Hampshire, but the flavors and smells of that bakery have followed me everywhere and continue to ignite my senses. This Muffin Named Pleasureis my update of the Italian pastry I came to love. Lighter than the original, yet no less desirous, I substitute buttermilk for sour cream, olive oil for butter, pine nuts for candied pecans and add blueberries along with a hint of peppermint flavoring for texture and an element of surprise. Less sinful than the original, equally moist and delicious, have this muffin for breakfast with steaming hot coffee or freshly squeezed orange juice. Or, save it for dessert, on the porch with a glass of cider and the setting sun. Your desires will be satisfied, your pleasures fulfilled.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, or on the porch in the evening, gathering flavors soon.
A MUFFIN NAMED PLEASURE
Yield: 12 Muffins
Ingredients and Equipment:
- 12 cupcake liners, preferably non-stick
- 1 muffin tin, for 12 cupcakes or muffins
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 & ⅓ cups buttermilk
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon pure peppermint extract
- 1 cup blueberries, rinsed, dried and tossed with a tablespoon of flour
For the topping:
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons flour
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 3 tablespoons butter olive oil
- ⅔ cup pine nuts
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.* (*If you have a convection oven, set it to convection. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven to preheat.)
- Line the muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the brown sugar, eggs, buttermilk, olive oil, vanilla extract and peppermint extract.
- Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients. Beat gently until just combined. Add the blueberries. Beat again, gently, to stir in the blueberries.
- Divide the batter equally between the muffin cups.
- In a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients. Divide the topping equally between each muffin cup.
- Place in the preheated oven, on top of the pizza stone if you are using one, and bake until the cupcakes are golden and fragrant. This should take about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Serve and enjoy.
Note: (If you do not plan to eat these muffins right away, store in an airtight container. They will keep up to 24 hours.)