Saturday, July 19, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake...First Thing in the Morning

Muffins! Mmmmm. I think muffins are one of my favorite inventions. Cake for breakfast!! Well, it's not like the idea of a regular cake or cookies or brownies being meant for dessert has ever stopped me from eating one or three for breakfast, but with muffins I at least have the satisfaction of knowing that they're meant for breakfast. Someone, who I don't know, but I definitely love, deemed chocolate chocolate chip muffins most-important-meal-of-the-day worthy.

So I have always loved muffins. Growing up, I remember them only as a part of dinner. Onion and cheese muffins. Yum. I don't think we did breakfast muffins, though. Maybe that's why I'm a little obsessed with muffins now. Back in the day when we were living in the good ol' US I would buy muffins from bakeries and at the grocery store. Now that we live a bit too far from those bakeries, I must make my own.

I have been in constant search of good muffin recipes for years now. You may remember that I like chocolate. Particularly chocolate baked into stuff. Well, apart from the (mediocre) apple cinnamon muffins that I've always made, I have generally concentrated my efforts on finding good recipes that contain that addictive substance. Chocolate muffins. Peanut butter chocolate chip muffins. Banana chocolate chip. Cinnamon chocolate chip. You get the idea.

But there's one problem. I want my muffins to be pretty. I understand the whole "it's what's inside that counts" and everything, but I can't help judging a muffin by it's appearance. I like them to be pretty. AND I want them to taste good and be sweet enough and not to be too dry or too light and fluffy. I have found three muffin recipes that I like enough to make over and over. And I'm going to share them with you.

The first one is for chocolate yogurt muffins which I found at Cookie Madness, where Anna bakes something new A girl after my own heart. These are just a good, basic double chocolate muffin. I've tried probably 8 different double chocolate muffins and these are my favorite. They're pretty, just dense and sweet enough and even David, who isn't a big muffin or chocolate fan, likes them.

I also decided to grow up a bit and try using fruit in my muffins, making them slightly healthier. We had some raspberries we couldn't eat fast enough so I baked some into these raspberry-topped lemon muffins, which I found at Smitten Kitchen (where she will tell you where she got it). These were not so very pretty and a little bit more like a cupcake as far as sweetness and lightness, but my-oh-my did we like them. I don't eat a lot of raspberries plain, but I adored them in these muffins. It's a little backwards in that all the sweetness in these muffins is in the lemon part and all the tartness is in the raspberries. I loved getting a raspberry in these 20 times more than I ever loved getting a chocolate chip in any other baked good, ever. Yes, this is still Lisa speaking. Next time I make them I will quadruple (or so) the amount of raspberries. I'll make more than 12 muffins and just stuff them full of raspberries instead of just setting them on the top. Too bad it's after 11pm because I sort of need to go to the farmers market and get some and make these NOW!

And now for my final muffin. I think I saved the best for last. I found this one at Sugar Plum, where Emiline, whose name I love, makes up all her own recipes. When I first started reading food blogs, I didn't get how everyone could just post a recipe from a cookbook on their blog. Now I sort of think that it's a bit like an advertisement for the book, in a way, but Emiline feels the way I did, and only posts recipes she's written herself, which is awesome. I've made a number of them and they're really good.

So I had a jar of cherries that were about to get old and David had been begging me to let him drink the juice from them (?) and I remembered that Emiline had posted about these bada-bing muffins with ginger-oat streusel so I decided to make them, substituting my jarred cherries for the fresh ones it calls for. I also didn't have (and never have had) any crystallized ginger, so I omitted it, and used oil in the muffin instead of melting butter. They were FANTASTIC. Ugly as ever a muffin was (sorry Emiline!), but so extremely tasty. We love them. I pack these with extra cherries, too.

So if you happen to have read all the way through this post, it is very likely only because you care about muffins. So if you do, and you have a favorite muffin recipe you'd like to recommend, I would love you forever if you told me about it in the comments. And I mean forever.


sarah k. said...

A few months ago, I started craving carrot cake and muffins at the same time, so I searched around and found a recipe for spiced carrot muffins. I tinkered with it a little, added some applesauce, some coriander and lime peel and ginger (more ginger). I made the frosting with cream cheese and lime juice, with added lime peel. Oh my, they were fantastic. They were also some kind of freakish healthy, since they were whole wheat, with extra bran, soy milk instead of cow, and I think maybe no oil. I can't remember. But you would never have guessed from how they looked, because they looked like cupcakes. They weren't whole wheat looking. Oh yeah, instead of eggs, I used ground flax seeds, which act as a binder, adding that over the top extra fiber. I think I might have to go make some. They were even good for breakfast, though a little sweet.

Nathan said...

I am always on the search for good muffin recipes. I am excited to try these. I make bran muffins a lot (I'll email the recipe if you are interested; Can you get bran cereal over there?). I have a recipe that makes a huge batch and you can keep the batter in the fridge for a couple weeks and bake whenever. I also love lemon raspberry muffins. I got a recipe of of allrecipes for them. I will have to compare them to yours. I know it does use more raspberries than just a few on top. So good.

Erin said...

Actually, Nathan is not always on the search for a good muffin recipe. I doubt he has ever made muffins. In fact he always complains that they are basically like eating cake and I tell him to just accept that they are not healthy and enjoy it. I see that you also have a bunch of blueberries from your sidebar. Do you have a perfect blueberry muffin? I have tried many recipes. The last I made were hardly sweet which Nathan liked and made them more acceptable as breakfast fare. But I think I could go for some more decadence.

KC said...

I love, love, love muffins, and yours look so good. Can you ship me some from Poland? :)

Anna said...

Thanks for trying the chocolate muffins! That is one of my favorites because the muffins turn out more like *muffins* rather than glorified cupcakes :).

I will have to try some of your other ones here.

Lisa said...

Sarah--Mmm. Those sound exceedingly delicious! I must do a carrot version!

Nathan and Erin!--From now on there will always be an excess of !!!! when I address you, or at least Nathan. You guys are great. You're like the perfect married couple. I had a good laugh reading Erin's take on Nathan's comment.
Nathan--I LOVE bran muffins. I once made the type you are talking about (my first time using a shortening type product in Poland--and there is bran cereal) and I really liked them but nobody else would eat them :(
Erin--I actually did make muffins with some of these blueberries. I made the "to die for blueberry muffins" from allrecipes and we liked them a lot. They were pretty and they have a nice struesel type thing. The topping was a little sweet so I think I would switch the amounts of sugar and flour (and I omitted the cinnamon) but the muffins themselves were the perfect amount of sweetness for me. I may post about them some day, since they're so pretty and I'm sure the kids will be getting lots more blueberries.

KC--Some of each are in the mail. :)

Anna--(though you probably won't be coming back to read this...)I'm feeling all famous having you comment here! And I actually found the malt sandwich cookies I mention in my sidebar from your site as well. Ooooo yum. I think I'll go get one out of the fridge right now...

Nathan said...

Lisa, I don't bake muffins; I'm not on the hunt for good recipes; and I DO think they are an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. Sure, I'll gorge on them if Erin bakes them, but I really do prefer that they not be so sweet. Heaven knows I have plenty of other sweets in my diet.

Erin accidentally posted on my account and then replied from her own.

I think having our picture next to our posts makes it so hard to imagine anyone else saying what's there--even if those words are rather implausible.

We'll have to be more careful with our accounts!!!

As for perfection in our marital joshing, I guess the scales come off now. You'll have to go back to acknowledging that you and Greg have that one all sewed up.

Lisa said...

Ha ha ha ha! I guess I AM funny! I've been told that before, but now I realize that I AM! And thick. After reading Nathan's (the real Nathan's) comment it took me about a half an hour (while feeding a baby and washing some dishes)to switch from what I thought in the first place and to understand the explanation of what really happened. What is my deal? Maybe I've really been counting wrong all these years and I actually AM 82?

I actually just did the exact same thing on my cousin's blog (The Scotts)--so I totally should have gotten Erin's mistake-- except that I forgot to switch accounts the second time, so it looks like both comments are coming from Grzegorz. I really am losing it. I should change my blog title to "Watch Me Gradually Lose it" :)

Emiline said...

Ha ha! They were really ugly! You're right about that. I tried to make them look pretty in the picture, but oh well. I wish they had more of a "dome" to the top.
But I'm glad you liked them! Sounds like you have a real passion for muffins.