This fourth installment of Muffin Mondays might be my best yet.
A series of serendipitous purchases gave me the ingredients to create a sweet and sophisticated muffin, one that rises above its more homely brethren and exudes an air of calm self-assurance. This muffin is damn tasty, and it knows it. If this muffin were a person, she’d be a Hamptons-going, slinky-gown-wearing, champagne-cocktail-sipping dilettante. But she’d also be grounded – her participation in philanthropic events would be genuine, and she’d donate that slinky dress to one of those centers that gives out free prom dresses to low-income teenagers. Basically, she’d be a kind-hearted, generous, lovable lady.
Who is she? Why, she’s a Cherry-Almond-Chocolate Chip Muffin, of course.
Exuding a sweet almond perfume, she’s filled with tart dried cherries and dark chocolate chips, ensuring that each bite offers a unique sensation and combination of tastes. You know you want her. So why don’t you make her?
Cherry-Almond-Chocolate Chip Muffins
(makes six good-sized muffins)
1/2 T ground flax + 1 1/2 T warm water
3/4 + 1 T C all-purpose flour
1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 C almond meal
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 t almond flavor (see note below)
1/2 t vanilla extract
2/3 C almond milk
Heaping 1/3 C vegan sugar
1/4 C sliced almonds
1/3 C dried unsweetened cherries
1/4 C dark chocolate chips (seriously, use the good stuff here – I got mine from the bulk bins at the co-op)
Preheat the oven to 350° and lightly grease a 6-muffin tin.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flax into the warm water and set aside. In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together and mix well. Add the wet ingredients and the sugar to the flax mixture and stir well, making sure all wet ingredients are mixed. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Mix until just incorporated. Fold in the almonds, dried cherries, and the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin – it’ll come up to the top of each well. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a thin knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Ingredient note: Oddly, my co-op only carries almond flavor, not almond extract. The main difference seems to be that the flavor is slightly thicker, as its base is glycerin (eek?). The brand I have uses natural almond essence, so I know that at least this isn’t a totally synthetic almond flavor. Small comfort, but there it is. Next time I’ll shop elsewhere – or maybe my co-op was just out of stock! If you make these muffins and use almond extract, you might want to cut down the amount given here.
There you have it. My most decadent muffin yet, one I know I’ll recreate in the future to enjoy again and again. I hope you will, too! These are best eaten warm with a smidgen of Earth Balance, when the chocolate chips are a little melty and soft. Mmm.
What’s your favorite muffin variety? Have you ever bought a lesser version of a food item (e.g. almond flavor instead of almond extract)?
Note: This is a scheduled post, because I’m currently in Italy. Apologies for any weirdness with auto-publishing!