It's no secret that my husband is a bit of a picky eater. The list of things he refuses to eat is quite extensive, although it is shrinking these days, thanks to careful disguising of certain ingredients (ahem, like squash) and a general force-feeding of things I think he ought to just get over and eat. This boy will learn to have a well-rounded palate if it's the last thing I do! But despite some of the hiding and even arguing I have to do to get him to eat anything outside his comfort zone, one food I can always count on him eating are pears. Fruits aren't always high on his food-priority list, but rest-assured, if pears are in the house they will get eaten! So imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon this recipe for pear muffins.
Admittedly, pear muffins were not something I had ever heard of. Banana, blueberry, even apple muffins, sure... but pear? I was instantly intrigued. And within one bite, I was also instantly satisfied! These muffins are amazingly moist, and perfectly spiced... almost like a chai latte in muffin form. They're also very hearty, with robust chunks of tender pear and crunchy walnuts. Usually one muffin is just enough to take the edge off of a hungry stomach, but these guys are downright satiating! I can't wait to come home from work to one of these bad boys every day this weekend... you know, provided the picky boy doesn't eat them all first. :)
slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma: Muffins
yields about 16 muffins
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, chopped fine with a food processor, blender, or coffee grinder
1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil or walnut oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
beans from inside 1 vanilla bean (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or, if not using vanilla bean, use 2 teaspoons of extract)
2 pounds (about 4 or 5) firm, ripe pears, coarsely chopped
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 16 standard muffin cups with butter or shortening, or line with paper cups. Fill remaining muffin cups half-full with water to prevent warping.
2. For the topping, combine the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
3. For the muffins, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla beans, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, stirring just until moistened. Small lumps in the batter are okay. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the chopped pears and walnuts. Take care not to break up the fruit; do not overmix.
5. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops of the batter with the topping mixture, dividing evenly.
6. Bake until golden and springy to the touch, about 20-25 minutes. Take care to rotate the pans halfway through, to ensure even baking. A toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin should come out clean. Allow the muffins to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then unmold. Serve warm or at room temperature, as desired.