Monday, January 03, 2011

Carrot Cake Muffins...But Not Really

Sometimes I try recipes and discover that they are not entirely what I am looking for. Pretty soon I'm playing Mad Scientist in the kitchen, concocting my own. And, as I've said before, as long as you hold to the basic rules of baking and chemistry, you can do that.

My Grandmother used to make these super-moist carrot cake bars that were much-adored in our family. Someday I might actually share that recipe with you. But one of the things that was different about it was that it called for carrot puree (as in baby food).

Now, I'm sure you are wondering if I stocked up on enough baby food for Thing 2 to feed her until she left for college, but that's not entirely true. I just happened to stock up on a little extra of the stage 2 carrot puree because I knew I wanted them for Gram's carrot cake bars. I stocked up on sweet potatoes too to save myself the hassle of cooking, peeling and pureeing my own (you call it lazy, I call it valuing my time).

If, by chance, you want to make your own puree, boil your carrots down in plain old water until they are soft enough to mash with a fork, pop into a blender and remove any chunks.  Be sure to cool the puree before using in a recipe. Stage 2 baby food puree is about the consistency of applesauce but smoother.

That said, I wanted a carrot muffin recipe that used the carrot puree instead of using the carrots I have in the crisper (need those for chicken soup later this week). And raisins go well with carrots and are high in iron for the kiddies....and I have a bit of coconut in the pantry. Sounds like carrot cake, huh? Yeah, pretty much but, well, not. Because I didn't want them to be overly sweet like a cupcake and I certainly wasn't planning on icing them with cream cheese frosting. I just wanted the flavor components.

And here is what I came up with on the second try (the first being kind of rubbery, thanks to too much milk-see, I do research):

large muffin pans
Carrot Cake-ish Muffins:

Preheat the oven to 375. Spray and paper 12 large (think coffee house size) muffin cups (the next size down is called a standard size muffin cup, the size of a regular cupcake. Make sure you also spray the inside of the paper lightly so it removes more easily from the muffin later.

In a small bowl, soak 3/4 cup of raisins in hot water.

In a mixing bowl, blend together
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

Cream together before adding
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups carrot puree (or 3 4-oz jars)

Beat together until well blended, then scrape down the bottom of the bowl to remove any lumps of butter that may have stuck there.

In a separate bowl, mix together

2 3/4 cups AP flour (or whole wheat flour or any combination of the two)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 cup shredded coconut

folding in raisins
at the end of mixing
Measure out
1 cup buttermilk (or soured milk)

adding the buttermilk
Add one half of the dry ingredients to the bowl, pour in the buttermilk and then the remaining dry. Mix just until the ingredients come together before turning off the mixer and adding the raisins (that you drained the hot water from) to the bowl. Fold in with a rubber spatula, being sure to clean off any flour that is stuck to the sides of the bowl and getting the bottom of the bowl for any unmixed ingredients.

cinnamon sugar on top

Scoop into muffin cups, filling the cups 3/4 way up. If you are making large muffins, you should have 12 and if you are making standard muffins, you should have 16.

I sprinkled cinnamon sugar on the tops of my muffins for a little texture because the sugar caramelizes while the muffins bake, giving the top a crunchy, flaky top.

Bake large muffins for 18-22 minutes, depending on your oven. Smaller muffins will bake sooner.

Cool muffins on a cooling rack outside their pans before putting into any airtight container. I like that these have a distinct carrot flavor instead of being like a spice, any time I can sneak a vegetable into a kid's breakfast, I feel like a genius.


Anonymous said...

See after the first rubbery batch, I would have been done. Bet these are great with coffee.MMM....

Cara said...

I am so making these this week. I wonder...could I soak the raisins in rum? Mmmmm...

Mrs. V said...

Mmmm rum...yes indeed :D