The sweet se­cret be­hind th­ese spiced-pear muffins

Whangarei Report - - BITE - El­lie Krieger makes 12

Lately I’ve been play­ing around with date sugar in my kitchen, and I’ve be­come in­creas­ingly sold on it as an al­ter­na­tive sweet­ener.

Be­cause date sugar con­tains the fi­bre, min­er­als and an­tiox­i­dants of the whole fruit, it of­fers a more health­ful al­ter­na­tive. This kind of sugar doesn’t work as a re­place­ment in all gran­u­lated-sugar recipes, though. Be­cause it does not dis­solve eas­ily, it is not suit­able for stir­ring into drinks or as a caramelis­ing agent, and its sub­tle yet dis­tinct date flavour won’t work with all dishes.

But I can vouch for the fact that date sugar is de­li­cious when blended into smooth­ies, as well as in pan­cakes and waf­fles, ba­nana bread and oat­meal cook­ies. And it works won­der­fully in th­ese warm spiced-pear muffins. (It acts more like a dry in­gre­di­ent in recipes than gran­u­lated sugar does, so I have found it best to re­duce the flour in a typ­i­cal recipe by 1⁄2 cup for each 3⁄4 cup date sugar used.)

PEAR SPICE MUFFINS

If you sub­sti­tute reg­u­lar dark brown sugar for date sugar, in­crease the flour to 2 cups, re­duce the ap­ple­sauce to 1⁄2 cup and whisk in the brown sugar with the liq­uid in­gre­di­ents.

In­gre­di­ents

1⁄3 cup canola or other neu­tral-tast­ing oil, plus more for the pan

1-1⁄2 cups whole-wheat pas­try flour

3⁄4 cup date sugar or packed dark brown sugar

2 tsp bak­ing pow­der 1⁄4 tsp bak­ing soda 1⁄2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cin­na­mon 1⁄2 tsp ground gin­ger 1⁄4 tsp ground cloves

2 large eggs

1 cup unsweet­ened ap­ple­sauce 1 tsp vanilla ex­tract

1 cup low-fat but­ter­milk 1 medium firm, ripe pear, peeled, cored and cut into 5mm pieces

1⁄2 cup chopped pecans or wal­nuts, op­tional

Method

Pre­heat the oven to 200C. Lightly brush the wells of a 12-muf­fin pan with oil.

Whisk to­gether the flour, date sugar, bak­ing pow­der, bak­ing soda, salt, cin­na­mon, gin­ger and cloves in a medium bowl. Whisk in the third cup of oil and the eggs in a mix­ing bowl un­til well blended, then whisk in the ap­ple­sauce and vanilla ex­tract. Stir in half the flour mix­ture, then half the but­ter­milk; once those are in­cor­po­rated, add the re­main­ing flour mix­ture and the re­main­ing but­ter­milk, stir­ring un­til just in­cor­po­rated. Gen­tly stir in the pear and the nuts, if us­ing.

Di­vide the bat­ter evenly among the wells of the muf­fin pan. Bake (mid­dle rack) for 18 min­utes, un­til a tooth­pick in­serted into the cen­ter of one of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool (in the pan) on a wire rack for 15 min­utes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them be­fore serv­ing or stor­ing. —

Wash­ing­ton Post

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