apologies & the muffin challenge

I’d first like to start off this post with an apology.

I’m sorry.  I feel like I’ve abandoned my blog … but I haven’t.  I PROMISE!

I’ve just been ridiculously … insanely … exhaustingly … busy.

In the last month and a half I have …

must love food

  • celebrated my grandfather’s 90th birthday (extra-amazing & super special).

grandpa

snippets of the party

  • moved in with the manfriend (happy dance).
  • packed and unpacked boxes and boxes of books, kitchen equipment, clothing, shoes … books. More books. So many … hardcover books (aka über heavy to carry).
  • Oh! And I baked for these pretty awesome pop-ups in Magpie’s three Ottawa locations … you not only got to look at some stellar jewellery … and clothing (from Victoire) BUT you also got to nibble on some mini lemon and mini chocolate tarts.

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A-MAZ-ING?!

Holy heck ya! But also super tiring … especially when you add my regular 40 hour a week job into the mix.

I’m pretty darn exhausted.

But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been baking, taking pictures, editing them and then working on a post. It just means … it takes me a while to get it all done.

I think sharing my banana chocolate – peanut butter chip coffee cake muffin recipe might make it all ok though.

I mean … think about it. Bananas. Chocolate chips. Peanut butter chips. Tossed together and lovingly baked. A total winner … plus perhaps one of my favourite things.

banana chocolate - peanut butter chip coffee cake muffins

These muffins rock it something fierce.  I’m so glad that I decided to give this recipe a go for last month’s baking crew challenge.  When Tom & Aimée, Cory, Meredith and I decided to bake muffins for our March gathering … I think we all kinda thought “muffins!?  seriously.  how exciting” (insert sarcastic voice).

But I’m actually really glad that’s what we baked.

First off … I got to make something new … and something that I think will remain a staple in my baking roster … because frankly … these are divine.

Secondly … Meredith made these perfectly delightful rhubarb & ginger muffins (originally Jamie Oliver’s mother’s day muffin recipe).

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She sourced out some fresh rhubarb and the result was a muffin packed full of rhubarb and a generous amount of ginger.  I loved it.  I actually meant to make a batch of these for my grandfather’s party … (I ran out of time!).  Huge winner.  It’d be great with some strawberry curd stuck in the centre … maybe I’m just getting a little too fancy though?

Tom & Aimée decided to make one of my personal favourite recipes (and it was actually from my blog!) – pumpkin chocolate chip loaf became muffins.

tom & aimee's pumpkin chocolate chip muffin

This is a classic recipe for a number of reasons:

1.  It’s good.  It packs a punch of pumpkin.  Which really means it tastes like the absolute best thing in the world.

2.  Because you add chocolate chips to the mix … it doesn’t taste too healthy.  Or boring.  Nope.  These muffins are good.

3.  Pumpkin chocolate chip loaf is still the most popular recipe on my blog.  There’s a reason for it.

4.  It was the first thing I baked for the manfriend and I after our move.  New kitchen = must test the oven = pumpking chocolate chip muffins.

All in all, this was a successful, and super tasty baking crew challenge.  Everyone gets into a muffin making rut, and by challenging ourselves, we were able to present some tried and true classic recipes … but also added a few new ones to the mix.

I’d like to think that my banana chocolate – peanut butter chip coffee cake muffins are one of those new classics.

I’m also tempted to change it up a little the next time I make them.  I was thinking of drizzling caramel sauce in the centres and then only using the coffee cake topping for the top of the muffin (rather than layering it in the centre as well).  Thoughts?  Am I going too far?

Oh … one important note to make … don’t eat too many of these all at once.  You’ll probably want to.  The first one will taste so good that you’ll think … what the heck! why not?  Well … it just might make you feel a little ill … they are jam-packed with bananas (I used 7 in the recipe) … they also have a handful of chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.  And cinnamon-brown sugar.  These are intense.

banana chocolate – peanut butter chip coffee cake muffins

ingredients:

3 c. flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 c. butter, room temp

2 c. sugar

2 eggs

2 1/2 c. mashed fully ripe bananas (6 or 7)

1 tsp vanilla

1 c. sour cream

coffee cake topping:

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Heat your oven to 350 F.  Spray your muffin pans with non-stick spray.  I don’t use liners for muffins … I don’t know why … it’s just not something I do.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda together.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  About 5 minutes at medium speed.  Scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat everything until incorporated.

Add the bananas and vanilla, mixing well.

Add the flour mixture and the sour cream to the batter: alternating between each addition, starting and ending with the flour.  Mix well.

Fill each muffin tin with a tablespoon of batter.  Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the coffee cake topping.  Cover with more batter.  Sprinkle with the rest of the coffee cake topping.

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Bake for 22 minutes … or until the top of the muffins bounce back when gently touched / or your toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to sit in the pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Then remove and allow them to cool completely.  Or seriously … just dig right it.  These are too good to wait.  PLUS this recipe is a winner because you get over 3 dozen regular sized muffins AND 1 dozen large muffins.  Think of the amount of mini muffins you could get?!

Oh … and on another note.  Although Cory didn’t participate in the baking crew muffin challenge … we did have another guest.

Tom & Aimée recently got FENTON the cutest little fella ever … and so after eating muffins, we all sat down and hung out with him.

Isn’t he adorable?

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rhubarb beignets

This recipe is my ode to two people I heart.

Marysol Foucault (Edgar & Odile) and Patricia Larkin (aka Trish) (The Black Cat Bistro).

I heart them both.

Marysol will sometimes just send me a link to a blog or a recipe with a note that says “i thought of you”.  As a girl who loves loves LOVES food – especially baked goods – it’s like getting a virtual hug.

I’ve been hanging out with Trish a lot recently … she’s taught a few LCBO food events and I’ve been her assistant … I just heart being able to listen to her talk food and share her ideas and her tips to people.  Plus she shares her recipes (and is as equally in love with Downton Abbey as I am).  Loves it! 

So … you might wonder … how does a rhubarb beignet recipe become an ode to two people?

Easy!

Marysol introduced me to, and makes, the MOST INCREDIBLE lemon beignet in the ENTIRE world.  That’s right people.  Edgar, in Gatineau, Québec has the greatest lemon beignet in the entire world.  And Trish introduced me to, and makes this insanely amazing rhubarb curd.  Rhubarb AND curd … LOVES. LOVES. LOVES.  Absolutely brilliant.

I decided that since I heart the two things (and people) so much … I needed to combine them.

Hence … the rhubarb beignet.  A light fluffy cupcake, stuffed with rhubarb curd, bathed in lemon juice and coated in cinnamon sugar.

DEE-LISH.  Seriously tartly delicious.  With a hint of sweetness.  I am totally in love with this recipe.

The rhubarb recipe is thanks to Trish and the cupcake recipe is thanks to Marysol (she also shared it when she appeared on must.love.food. the *lemon* episode).

rhubarb curd

ingredients:

3 c. chopped rhubarb
3/4 c. sugar handful of strawberries or raspberries for colour (optional – I have also used cranberries)
juice from 1 lemon
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
7 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
pinch of salt

Place the rhubarb, juice of the lemon, sugar and water in a small pot and simmer gently until the rhubarb is soft.  Keep an eye on your saucepan and stir the fruit from time to time … the first time I made this, the heat was a little high and the fruit stuck to the bottom of the pot.  Once cooked down and thickened, remove from heat and blend into a smooth purée.

Whisk egg yolks, sugar and salt in a bowl that can be used for a double boiler (either a glass or metal bowl).  Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisking the egg mixture until warm.  Gradually add the rhubarb purée, stirring vigorously between each addition.

Once the consistency is rich and thick, remove from heat.  Put through a sieve immediately and cool with plastic wrap directly on top of the curd.  Set aside in the fridge while you bake the cupcakes.

Marysol’s basic cake recipe:
 
ingredients:
 
1 egg
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
  
Heat your oven to 350 F.  Spray your muffin tin with non-stick spray … no need to use cupcake liners for this recipe. 

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, using a whisk attachment, beat the egg, sugar and oil.  Start at a low-speed and increase the speed, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.  

In a measuring cup, mix the buttermilk and vanilla.  
 
Alternating between the flour and the milk mixtures, add them to the oil – egg – sugar batter (flour / milk / flour / milk / flour).
 
Increase the speed of the mixer once the flour is completely incorporated, creating a smooth batter.  Once smooth … stop mixing!

Spoon the batter into your muffin tins.  Bake for about 17 minutes for large cupcakes.

Once baked, remove the pan from the oven, and turn the muffins out onto a wire rack immediately.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Time to pull out your rhubarb curd.  This is when I spoon it into a squeeze bottle.  A piping bag works too.  Basically … you just want something with a tip that you can stick into the bottom of your cupcake, allowing you to fill the centre with rhubarb curd.

Once the cupcakes are full of rhubarb curd love (that’s right … rhubarb curd is LOVE) … you need to bathe them in fresh lemon juice (I used 2 lemons for this … obviously this depends on how much juice your lemons yield).  Marysol taught me that the *best* way to do this is to put your hand into the lemon juice (palm side down); wet it, and then pat the entire cupcake surface with your wet hand.  The perfect amount of lemon juice gets soaked up … without overly saturating the cupcake.

Then roll the *lemon juiced* cupcakes in some cinnamon sugar.  The sugar will hold thanks to that lemon juice … plus it adds an extra zing to the cupcakes.

I heart these beignets.  Actually … I LOVE them.  I purposely didn’t use up all my rhubarb … I need to be able to make another batch of curd soon.  It’s just too good to resist.

must.love.chocolate

*apologies for the delay in posting this blog … I hope that if you tuned in last Sunday this brings back happy chocolate thoughts … and if you missed the episode … perhaps you’d like to tune in on Saturday at 1 pm for the rerun … and don’t forget to watch the “decorating” of the mousse cake

must.love.food. was all about chocolate this week.

Dark chocolate ganache.

White chocolate ganache.

Ganache covered almond marzipan sponge cake.

Lemon white chocolate chocolates.  With a twist.

If you wanted a little insight into chocolate … I think this episode was for you.

When I first started “story boarding” must.love.food., I knew, without a doubt, that I wanted to do an episode with Justin Rogers.

Justin is my chocolate guru. 

He is creativity and fun and talent all rolled into one. 

And he has a wicked sense of humour.

I think that the episode demonstrated that … as well as Justin’s attention to detail.

I guess you need to be that precise when you make something not only delicious … but oh so beautiful.