Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Zucchini-Walnut Muffins with White Chocolate & Lemon Sugar

I have a confession to make. As much as I love all kinds of breakfast breads (coffeecake, scones, cinnamon rolls, yeasted-braids, muffins, etc), muffins tend to get the short shrift in my kitchen. It isn’t that I don’t like them. I do… I have posted recipes for many different kinds (all delicious). But to be honest, a standard muffin is just too small for my breakfast (I’m willing to accept the idea that the problem might be one of appetite, rather than muffin size…but I’ve chosen to approach this problem from the standpoint of blaming the muffin.) One would think the solution to this would be to just eat two muffins. But as it turns out, I think that two muffins are way too much. (Just call me Goldilocks…)
For several years now I have noticed pictures in cookbooks and magazines of muffins (and other miniature cakes) that had been baked in intriguing looking paper liners with large jagged, pointed edges. I didn’t think much about it other than that they were attractive. In any case I had never seen them for sale anywhere. 

Then, I saw them in use on a Bread Ahead Bakery tutorial for blueberry muffins. I was actually not being very attentive to the tutorial because I already have a blueberry muffin recipe that is the best (really). But when they began to fill the lined muffin tin with the batter, it became obvious to me that not only were these liners attractive, they made it so a standard muffin cup would hold more batter!

Several others watching at the time were asking about the liners and others who were familiar with them identified them as “Tulip” liners. As soon as the video was over I made a beeline for Amazon to search for Tulip muffin liners. A few days later my pack of 100 liners arrived.

I immediately made my blueberry muffin recipe, dividing it into 9 instead of 12 muffins. I could have made 8…but at the time I thought they looked quite full and I didn’t want to risk an overflow. I needn’t have worried. I got muffins that were tall and generously sized (but not too generous…). And as a bonus, because the liners are made with parchment paper, the muffins don’t stick at all (one of my pet peeves about the old-fashioned style of paper cupcake liners).

I now am able to use all of my delicious muffin recipes…and the standard muffin tins I already have in my cabinets…to make muffins that are just what I wanted: a muffin that is the size of 1 1/2 standard muffins. The only possible drawback to these lovely liners is that when you use them you don’t really get the quintessential “muffin top” (which I understand is the favorite part of the muffin for some people…). But since the “muffin top” portion generally wants to stick to the pan, this is not a drawback in my world.

Since muffins have been in the forefront of my mind, when I recently found myself with a glut of zucchini, a muffin was the first baked good I thought about making. I didn’t have a zucchini muffin recipe in my repertoire…so I decided to develop one. It is sort of a hybrid cross of Gina DePalma’s Zucchini & Olive Oil Cake and a Carrot & Apple Spice Muffin recipe that I posted a few years ago. I have added the white chocolate because I think zucchini requires a bit of extra sweetness and I didn’t want to add any more sugar to the muffin batter. I think golden raisins would be another great option. 

If you happen to have a few extra zucchini in your kitchen right now (a common problem in July and August), these muffins would be just the thing. Because they are muffins, they are quick to make and bake. They are also delicious: tender, sweet and spicy…with a tiny zing of lemon. And best of all, they are just the right size.

Zucchini Walnut Muffins 

3 T. granulated sugar
1/2 T. finely grated lemon zest

170 g. (1 1/2 c.) all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
3/4 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
65 g. (1/3 c.) brown sugar
100 g. (1/2 c.) granulated sugar
135 g. (2/3 c.) olive oil
200 to 225 g. finely shredded zucchini (top and tailed, but skin intact)
60 g. (1/2 c.) coarsely chopped/crumbled toasted walnuts
85 g. (1/2 c.) white chocolate chips (optional) 

Combine the sugar and lemon zest;  set the lemon sugar aside.

Place the next seven ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Set aside.

Place the eggs and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk to break up the eggs. Add the sugars and whisk until smooth. Add the oil while whisking constantly. Whisk until the mixture is smooth, homogenous, and thickened. 

Add the dry ingredients and fold in with a rubber spatula. When the dry ingredients are almost absorbed add the zucchini, walnuts & white chocolate. Continue to fold, just until blended.

Divide the batter among eight to twelve muffin cups (an ice cream scoop works well for this) that have been lined with “tulip” or standard-sized liners. You will get 12 with standard sized, 8 or 9 with tulip-style liners. Sprinkle the lemon-sugar over the batter. 

Transfer to a 350° oven and bake until golden brown, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean....about 25 to 35 minutes (depending on the size of the muffins). Let the muffins cool in the pan for five minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature. The muffins will keep well at room temperature (if stored air-tight) for a couple of days. Freeze them for longer storage.

Makes 8 to 12 muffins.

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