Tuesday, August 9, 2011

{TWD} Carrot Spice Muffins

When I signed up for the baking group Tuesdays With Dorie three years ago, there was a seemingly endless list of of names ahead of me in line to choose the weekly recipe from the book Baking; From My Home to Yours. But the day finally came for me to have a turn picking a recipe and playing virtual host to the group. I chose Swedish Visiting Cake, still one of my very favorite recipes in the book, and loved hosting the group for that week!

Never did I dream that I would have the opportunity to repeat the experience. But here we are, more than a year later, and there ended up being more recipes in the book than there are current bakers in the group. Through some sort of random selection process, some of us can choose a second recipe from among the remaining gems. It took me approximately a nano-second to select the Carrot Spice Muffins.

My husband and I (especially my husband) are huge fans of carrot cake (that was the flavor of our wedding cake 30 years ago!) and these muffins, according to Dorie, "have the spiciness of the all-American carrot cake...and...the cake's moistness" but in a breakfast-appropriate muffin version. Breakfast sweets are even more popular in our house than dessert ones - so this recipe had my name all over it!

I am thrilled to host this week and thank each person who baked the carrot muffins along with me. Sooner or later I will visit each of your blogs to check out the muffiny goodness.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- If you don't have Dorie's book, you are missing out on the best written, most deliciously conceived baking resource in print. Here's how you can get a copy of this book for your own kitchen:

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Barnes & Noble
Buy at Borders
Buy Indie

- You can scroll down to the bottom of this post to find the recipe for these muffins.

- No matter how much I'd like to have baked this recipe exactly as the inimitable Dorie wrote it, I was baking one of my husband's favorite sweets and he despises coconut, so I omitted it in my muffins. I added a couple of spoonfuls of toasted rolled oats instead.

- Had I added coconut, I would have used unsweetened flakes rather than that sweetened shredded stuff, and toasted them before stirring into the muffin batter.

- I used some carrots from my farm box. In addition to the fabulous flavor of these farm-fresh carrots, I love the variety of colors in the carrot bunches. The purple ones are my favorite: they are bright orange inside!

- In addition to the recipe's cinnamon and ginger, I grated some nutmeg and a bit of black pepper in with the dry ingredients.

- For most of the oil I used a light-flavor olive oil, but I used an ounce or two of regular olive oil also.

- For those who like the hearty nutty quality of whole grains, I think this would be a great recipe to replace some of the white flour for whole wheat. I used all white flour this time.

the verdict:

I love Dorie's assessment of this recipe: "...these carrot muffins...have enough spice and sweetness to keep you coming back for more, but not so much that you think you're eating dessert at the crack of dawn."

Even though Dorie was careful to design the recipe so that it would not be dessert for breakfast, my husband turned it around and had breakfast for his dessert. I baked these late in the day and when he came home from work they were cooling on the counter. Warm and fresh muffins make for a fine after-dinner treat!

Even with the extra spices I added, the muffins are lightly spiced. If you prefer a bolder flavor, you could probably double the quantity of spices.

And now, here's my husband's guest verdict:
First time I bit into one of the carrot muffins (warm from the oven, after dinner), a perfectly balanced taste and texture made my palate glow with a smile. Same thing even a couple of days later, if you store them correctly. These are not too dry, not too moist, not too greasy, not too sticky, not too sweet, but instead deftly walk a fine line though the minefield of mistakes that can yield unfortunate carrot related outcomes. They are my favorite.

I am thrilled to host this week and thank each person who baked the carrot muffins along with me. Sooner or later I will visit each of your blogs to check out the muffiny goodness. If you need the recipe, scroll down!

the recipe:

Carrot Spice Muffins
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
makes 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola, safflower or corn
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup shredded carrots (about 3, peeled and trimmed)
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/3 cup moist, plump currants or raisins
1/3 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted, cooled and chopped

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pans, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough - a few lumps are better than over-mixing the batter. Stir in the carrots, coconut, currants, and nuts. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Serving: These muffins are delicious warm, but they're even better after they've had at least half an hour to cool. Like many sweets with spice, their flavor intensifies with time.

Storing: These are best the day they are made, but still good (and even a little spicier) 1 day later - just keep them well covered overnight and, if you'd like, give them a quick warm-up in a 350-degree-F oven, or split them and pop them into the toaster. You can also wrap the muffins airtight and freeze them for up to 2 months; rewarm them the same way.


natalia said...

Ciao Nancy ! Thank you for the great choice ! I'm packing right now and packing my muffins' ingredients too !! Cannot wait to bake them in the countryside ! Grazie !

Cindy said...

Great pick Nancy. These were delicious. I toasted my coconut and used dates in place of the currents. I will use half whole wheat flour next time I make them. I like your addition of nutmeg, I added an extra half teaspoon of cinnamon. We had house guests when I made them and everyone loved them. I tucked a couple in a sack for my daughter on her drive home. The last two I sent to a dear friend recovering from surgery.
I think it's time to make some more. Can't wait to try some of the ice cream recipies on your blog. Have a great day.

Nickki said...

Brilliant choice! I love these muffins. Sadly I have not participated in TWD for some time now, but I do like to check in now and then to see what you are all making :-)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Carrot cake has and always will be a favourite!!!!

Flourchild said...

Thanks for hosting this week! The muffins are delicious.
My family loved them and I can't wait to make them again!

Unknown said...

I was so happy you chose these! Gorgeous carrots and muffins. I'd like to try them with olive oil next time - someone turned me on to a vanilla-infused olive oil which works well in baked goods, but I went with canola in mine. Excellent pick!

spike. said...

what a perfect recipe. Thanks so much for selecting it!

Nicole said...

Great pick this week! I loved the spices in these muffins.

Jeannette said...

What a wonderful host you are! :) I thought these were great! Tasty and fragrant. I love how your hubby described these cookies. It gave me an awesome mental picture of me walking through a minefield with muffins on the ground instead of mines ;)

thanks for the pick!!

Valerie Gamine said...

Nancy, your posts/TWD picks are always so informative. :)
I skipped this weeks recipe, but after seeing how great they look, and all the amazing reviews, I may have to buy some carrots!

Excellent post!

Anonymous said...

Such a great review and variation on these muffins. I will definitely be trying these soon.
I love your husbands comments too. Nice touch!

Jessica said...

I had high hopes of returning to TWD this week with your recipe but it wasn't in the cards! I am going to make them soon. I can't wait to see what Dorie does with a carrot muffin. And, oh, those carrots from your farm box look beyond perfect!

Jessica of My Baking Heart said...

Fab pick, Nancy - we loved these and I can't wait to make them again! :)

TeaLady said...

LOved these. So surprised they had not been picked before. Perfect with tea or coffee since they aren't real sweet. Lucky us (yes, me too)that we got to chose twice.

dorie said...

It's funny, I had thought that these muffins were already chosen -- so glad that they were left for you for your second-round pick. And what gorgeous carrots you had for them.

Delighted that you liked them!

Chats the Comfy Cook said...

Nancy,this is a great choice. I particularly like using oil. I rarely use butter except for cookies so this is a recipe for me. They were delicious. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to make a great muffin.

Carmelo said...

I had all the ingredients on hand except for carrots - so instead I used zucchini - these muffins were just as good - I now know how to use up all my extra zucchini - thanks.

Mary said...

I have a severe case of CSA carrot envy :). I love those purple carrots! Great pick. Great recipe.

Jaime said...

I thought these were just 'ok' but everyone else that had them LOVED them and could not stop talking about them! I guess I just expected something sweeter ;) even though they didn't wow me, it was a great pick b/c it was a wonderful crowd pleaser :)

margot said...

The muffins look great, Nancy, and so do those carrots! I'm glad that you had the opportunity to pick again. I always enjoy reading your recipe notes.

I tried a muffin this morning and having recently eaten quite of carrot cake (pretending they were muffins), I definitely agree with Dorie's assessment that they are not dessert, but are definitely sweet enough. A winner here.

Katrina said...

Always nice to try another muffins recipe. Thanks, Nancy.

Kayte said...

They look great...thanks for hosting, I will get to them sooner or later as we love carrot cake/carrot muffins, etc. I am still giggling about the Carrot Cupcake vs. Fresh Fruit Debate...I can so see that happening here as well at times. Get home, I miss you in the kitchen. Hugs.

Unknown said...

The carrots from your farm box are so stunning Nancy! Every time you post about items from your farm box you make me wish I subscribed to a CSA here. Until Shane learns to like veggies though, I don't think I can justify it.

Thanks for hosting this week! Shane's mom sent me an email just to tell me how very much they were enjoying these muffins after I shared them. It's pretty unusual for her to do that so these were clearly a big hit! I love J's review - he's got a way with words :)

Di said...

I love the carrot picture. =) I will definitely make these, but it just didn't happen here this week. I'm actually thinking that I might make them and post them for next week.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

muffins are great for dessert! i think i'll try using olive oil instead of grapeseed oil next time...i like the flavor of OO in baked goods. thanks for this pick...it's about time someone chose it!

Leslie said...

I'm embarrassed to just now get here to leave a comment on these muffins. They were such a favorite, just perfect (and wonderful with the coconut, FYI). Great pick!