Ahhh. Autumn. As soon as the leaves begin to change, I grow hungry for anything spiced with cinnamon and ginger, enriched with pumpkin, and laced with brown sugar. Many of the foods I love this time of year are not necessarily the healthiest choices. Fatty, sugary, white flour-y: everything my intestines hate. So that leaves a girl baking her own treats.
Today I made Autumn Magic Muffins. They're packed with autumn flavors like tangy cranberries, molasses and warm spices. Not too sweet and not too rich, they're perfect with a cup of coffee for a mid-afternoon break.
Now, most of the time when I make a muffin, I err on the side of health, mixing up super-low-fat, low-sugar, high-fiber treats. Okay. Make that hockey pucks. But today's muffin creation turned out nicely. It's a little fattier than I prefer, but the combination of corn oil and fruit purees created a tenderness that was much appreciated. You could jazz up these babies with some walnuts or raisins, and if you're really feeling crazy, substitute egg nog for the soy milk. Jinkies!
They are good with or without a smear of butter (or in this case, Earth Balance).
Autumn Magic Muffins
Makes 16 muffins.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare standard-sized muffin tin with liners, or grease and flour.
Combine in saucepan:
8 oz fresh cranberries, washed and picked over
1 golden delicious apple, cored and diced
1 Tb water
2 tsp sugar (the berries will be tart--you can add another tsp of sugar if you want)
Simmer until berries pop and the chunks of apple are very smushy--you're aiming for the consistency of applesauce. Remove from heat. Stir in:
1/2 C corn oil
1 Tb molasses
2 Tb brown sugar
1/2 C pumpkin puree
Allow apple-cranberry sauce mixture to cool to room temperature.
While the apple-cranberry sauce cools, whisk together in a large bowl:
1 C whole wheat flour
1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C sugar
1 Tb baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg)
When apple-cranberry mixture is cool, stir in:
1/2 C soy milk or soy nog (you can use moo milk/nog if you prefer dairy)
Then add liquid ingredients to the dry, folding carefully until dry ingredients are absorbed. Be gentle! Muffins made without eggs can get leathery if over-mixed.
Fill cups of muffin pan about 2/3rd full. Bake 12-16 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.