Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Perfect for Inclement Weather: Pretty Phenomenal Pumpkin (and so much more) Muffins

You guys. Do you know what these really are but just cannot be nominally? These are gluten-free spiced-pumpkin-teff-maple-flax muffins with an optional (over)dose of chocolate chips. These are also f^&#ing fantastic. I mean really. Sometimes - not that often anymore though - I even impress myself. And today was one of those times. Oh happy "inclement weather" day! This all came from a craving for something sweet (three cravings actually), a need for a thermostat reading greater than what my radiators could muster (hello oven), and my favorite thing about my kitchen self: some v. noteworthy resourcefulness (so noted).

Pumpkin muffin collage

Speaking of notes - I'm putting them up here to keep the recipe tidy - several of them, bolded for your reading pleasure.

1. I really really like the teff in these. Teff has a malty, nutty, sweet flavor that's great in muffins, pancakes, quick breads, and cookies. The Bob's Red Mill teff flour is v. finely milled as well, so it bakes up without any sandiness.

2. Sorghum's been my go-to base flour for gluten-free baking for a while; I prefer it to most rice flours.  It's mild in flavor (unlike quinoa), it doesn't go rancid overnight (unlike millet).

3. Teff? Sorghum? What are you on about? If you want to make them with wheat flour or a gluten-free mix, just use your flour of choice in place of the blend I used - ideally by weight (12 ounces), or measure 2 1/2 cups using a light hand. Omit xanthan gum if you're using wheat or a gf mix that has a gum in it.

4. Eggs vs. flax. Today, I used 2 eggs and 1/3 cup flax (as indicated in recipe). This was because I only had 1/3 cup flax meal, and I had some eggs, and we can all eat eggs these days. If I were making these with all eggs, I'd use 3 eggs. You need some good binders with all these gluten free grains and all this liquid. If I were making these with all flax, I'd use 3/4 cup flax, plus 2-4 tablespoons water. Start with 2 tablespoons, add more if the batter is too thick. You want a regular thick muffin batter. (See upper right picture.)

5. The truth about gluten-free baked goods: the tinier, the better. I made about a quarter of the batter into mini muffins. They're the best.

6. The other truth about gluten-free baked goods: they are way more perishable than wheat ones. So I'm going to keep a few of these in a tupperware for tomorrow, and I froze the rest. Reheat in microwave 30 seconds.

I know you want to see what the crumb is like. I sure did...


... pretty dang good for gluten-free (if a bit blurry). Dense but not chewy. (And I dumped a whole bunch of chocolate chips into the mix, probably way more than stated single cup.)

Like what you see? It's basically a riff on these banana-date muffins. Check 'em out.

Want a more traditional pumpkin muffin? Here you go.

Enjoy! Stay warm out there. xoxo

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (gluten-free, vegan options)
Yield: 15-18 muffins, ~48 mini muffins, or v. precisely: 12 muffins + 10 mini muffins

4 ounces (about 3/4 cup) teff flour*
4 ounces (about 3/4 cup) sorghum flour*
4 ounces (about 1 cup) potato, arrowroot, tapioca, or corn starch (I used 2 oz potato + 2 oz tapioca)*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup mild-flavored oil (I used melted coconut oil)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons molasses
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree (or 1 1/2 cups packed roasted pumpkin)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
2 eggs (or total 3/4 cup flax seeds + 2 tablespoons water - see note above recipe)
1/3 cup ground flax seeds (flax meal) (or one more egg (totaling 3) - see note above recipe)
1 - 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

* 2 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend (I recommend Trader Josef's) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine oil, molasses, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree, and mix until well combined, about a minute or two. Add eggs, if using, ground flax (see note above and add 2 tablespoons or more water with flax if you aren't using eggs), and apple cider vinegar. Mix on low-medium for 30 more seconds. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed until everything is well combined. Fold in chocolate chips with a spatula. Allow batter to rest for about 15 minutes. (This allows sorghum and teff time to hydrate a little more before baking, making for a better texture.) 

Grease your muffins tins. Measure out 1/3-cupfuls of batter into the muffin tin cups. Keep adding spoonfuls of any left over batter until they are all evenly filled. (They can be a bit more filled than regular egg-and-wheat muffins. Mine were pretty full.) Even out tops with the back of a wet spoon if you want them to look smooth on top.

For muffins: Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate muffin tin 180 degrees and bake 10 minutes more. 
For mini-muffins: Bake for 7 minutes. Rotate muffin tin 180 degrees and bake 5 minutes.

Allow to cool on a rack for about ten minutes before eating. They are good warm and just as good at room temp. They are sturdy yet moist (ew!), perfect for freezing. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

We wish you some Salted Brownies and a Happy New Year!

Happy 2015, friends! I hope you killed it at the gym this morning, and now let's talk about brownies.

Welcome to my website. I wonder who you are (other than Alicia) and how you got here (presumably by googling "no mayo tartar sauce" according to my analytics). For the first time in a long time, I just looked over my analytics this morning and they are fascinating. Lots of links from Russian porn sites (wtf?) and did anybody visit this blog before Pinterest (besides Lisa)? Despite the fact that commenting here has never been super popular (except to Nicole) (and seriously, it's okay, I get constant, ongoing feedback on my food and everything else I do and say all day long from my son and daughter), I've got some hits yo. My no-rise babka, sweet potato-black bean-cilantro stew, farmer's market quesadillas, burgers de Paris, pineapple-St. Germaine martini, best-ever nachos, and bacon fat + chocolate chip cookies recipes are evidently the most loved. But, strangely enough, Catfish Sandwiches with No-Mayo Tartar Sauce takes the cake (and Edith) by a long shot. I guess there are a lot of mayo haters out there. Happy to help.

I'm also happy to give you a recipe for these rich and salty brownies. They are adapted from my favorite cookbook, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, by my favorite NY Times columnist, Melissa Clark. Her recipe is called "Kate's Impossibly Fudgy Brownies with Chile and Sea Salt". My recipe is called "Edith's Version of Melissa Clark's Kate's Impossibly Fudgy Brownies with Cinnamon, Chili and Chocolate Salt." Quite a mouthful, I know. Say it five times fast. With a mouth full of brownie. (Also, I like to spell chili with an i because it is a pepper, not a country. But both spellings are technically permissible.)

Here's the deal: I use less sugar and more salt than Ms. Clark. She's got a sweet tooth - check out her rhubarb cake (it's crazy good, and craaaaaaaaazy sweet) - and I do too, but I like my brownies dark and deeply chocolaty and a little more grown-up than my crumb cake, so by considerably reducing the sweetness, we considerably accentuate the richness of the chocolate. (Note: use good chocolate.) (Also note: sugar + eggs is what gives your brownies that shiny, just-crisp top, so I don't recommend reducing sugar any more than I've done. But if you ignore this unrecommendation, let me know how it goes, because I am curious but not curious enough to potentially ruin a pan of brownies.) And, with respect to the salt, I just think using double the salt in baked goods is almost invariably advisable.

sprinkled with chocolate salt

Featured ingredient: Golden Fig Chocolate Salt. Buy some. Or make your own. Or just use another fancy flaky salt, but maybe halve the amount.

And finally, here are some pictures and the recipe.

brownie collagegooey perfection

Edith's Version of Melissa Clark's Kate's Impossibly Fudgy Brownies with Cinnamon, Chili and Chocolate Salt
Yields one 9X13" pan of brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces unsweetened or super dark (75% or greater) chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayene
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or 2 teaspoons vanilla + 2 teaspoons cardamom extract)
1 teaspoon chocolate salt or 1/2 teaspoon other fancy flaky salt (Melissa Clark uses Maldon salt)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13" baking dish with parchment paper. (This is theoretically optional, but you will thank yourself later for doing it. Alternatively, grease your pan well.)

In a microwave, melt together the butter and chocolate, checking after 30-45 second intervals, stirring until smooth. Stir in the oil. Allow mixture to cool for a few minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and spices.

Transfer chocolate to a large mixing bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar until there are no chunks of cocoa left and everything is well combined. Add the eggs and vanilla (and cardamom extract, if using); whisk until smooth. Fold in dry ingredients and gently stir until no lumps remain.

Scrape batter into lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle all over with the finishing salt. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating pan after 15. The top should be just barely set and shiny. (For impossibly gooey brownies, err on the side of under-baking!)

Allow brownies to cool completely in the pan before cutting. Enjoy.

P.S. Alicia, in case you have any extra pears, maybe your next baked good should be this Pear Crumb Cake.