I woke up on Sunday thinking about carrots. I don’t know why. As luck would have it, we happened to have some in the root cellar, courtesy of the CSA. We had eaten a fabulously indulgent dinner the night before at Astier (more to come on that, I promise), so we weren’t particularly hungry, but I thought something healthy might help overcome the guilt that always seems to follow an especially gluttonous evening.
Carrot muffins sounded like the perfect antidote. I wanted crunchy nuts, rich molasses, and whole grains. A glance through my bookmarked recipes yielded nothing like what I was looking for, but a molasses and whole wheat muffin recipe from Paul Prudhomme by way of Cooking Books and a zucchini bread from 101 Cookbooks via Hopie’s Kitchen looked like good starting points. Of course, Prudhomme’s recipe had no carrots (nor eggs, which I found troubling, and what looks on paper like WAY too much baking powder), and the zucchini bread had no molasses, though I did like the idea of incorporating crystallized ginger into the mix.
Flipping back and forth between the recipes trying to figure out the correct amounts of baking powder and soda was giving me a headache, and I was getting steadily hungrier. Ultimately, I guessed at the leavening amounts since I was changing the recipes so drastically anyway. Enough math and chemistry, it was time to start baking! Neither recipe had as much whole grain as I wanted, so I threw in some rolled oats for their heart-healthy properties, and I thought that the sweet crunch of hazelnuts would compliment the carrots and ginger nicely (also, that’s what I had lying around). While mixing up the batter, I realized I didn’t have any milk, so in a very WWPPD moment, I added cream. And then a little more.
I don’t have a regular muffin pan, but I do have some silicone molds in about the same shape. Trouble is, I hate the way things baked in silicone molds come out with weirdly rubbery exteriors. (Custards are an exception, as are pudding cakes and their saucy ilk, but anything with more flour than liquid comes out strangely.) Lacking muffin cups, I fashioned some out of squares of parchment paper, which worked better than I expected or even hoped.
The apartment filled with the homey, warm-spicy scent of freshly-baked muffins, Nick returned home from the market, and we had ourselves a nice, healthy breakfast. And then we put butter on it.
An excellent breakfast, these muffins are full of wholesome grains and vegetables, plus protein and healthy fat from the nuts. (I use hazelnuts, but pecans or walnuts would be good, too.) Try the muffins warm with a pat of butter – hey, a little fat is essential to getting the maximum amount of vitamin A out of those carrots!
½ cup / 80 g whole wheat flour
1 cup / 150 g all-purpose flour
½ cup / 60 g rolled oats
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp / 90 g sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. fine sea salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional – DO NOT use the pre-ground stuff!)
3 oz. / 75 ml water
¼ cup / 50 ml molasses
1½ oz. / 40 ml milk or cream
1 cup / 140 g grated carrot (from about 3 medium)
¼ cup / 50 g finely diced crystallized ginger
½ cup / 40 g roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts, plus some for garnish
Cassonade or turbinado sugar for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Wrap the grated carrot in paper towels to draw out some of the moisture. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Avoid those silicone things at all costs.
- Using a whisk, combine the flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl.
- In a measuring jug, combine the water, molasses, and milk or cream. Whisk to dissolve the molasses, then whisk in the egg.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the molasses mixture. Stir gently with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until batter is evenly moistened. Fold in the carrot, ginger, and nuts.
- Fill the muffin cups ¾ full and sprinkle the tops with more nuts and/or cassonade.
- Bake 30-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking time. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool until you can handle them, then remove to a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftover muffins will keep 2 days on the counter, covered in foil or plastic wrap.
Makes 8 large muffins.
Originally published on Croque-Camille.