Happy Monday! I’m particular happy this Monday as there are only 4 weeks of work left before the Christmas holidays!! Not that I’m counting down or anything. I’ve started to feel particularly Christmas-y as of this weekend…I even cracked out my festive jumper on Sunday. It was probably a step too far but I love it so much and it was Christmas present last year so there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to wear it in the new year.
I’ve also started to think about what gifts I’m going to make this year. Vanilla extract was on the list a while ago but I’m too late for that one. Last year I made jars of popcorn, granola and cookie/brownie mix. Possible gifts this year are jams and chutneys, bags of sweets or festive shortbread. For some reason I’m feeling particularly craft this year, so there might even be an attempt at making my own Christmas cards, but I’ll have to see about that one.
Aaanyway, that’s enough Christmas chat for now. Here, as promised, are some pear laden muffins! Pear, cranberry and some – delicious as a snack in their own right – walnuts. I was concerned that the fresh cranberries could be overly tart in the muffins so before adding the walnuts to the mix, they are roasted in cinnamon sugar which makes them super delicious.
The cranberry does give a bright, kick to the muffins but the sweet pear along with the subtle spice of the earthy walnuts perfectly counterbalances it. A generous sprinkling or sugar and some extra walnuts gives a lovely crunch and texture contrast too.
These muffins were a surprising hit with my workmates , but maybe that was just the free cake on a Friday morning. As one colleague suggested they would made a great breakfast over the festive period. They are quick to put together in the morning if you were up for it, or they could be wrapped and frozen after baking then defrosted overnight to be popped in the oven to reheat in the morning.
I just love fresh cranberries in cake batter, they are so bright and cheerful (and Christmas-y!!)
Just look at them gleam…I think I’ve been watching too many Nigella repeats on the Food Network.
Pear, Cranberry & Roasted Walnut Muffins
adapted from Food.com
Makes 12 muffins
For the walnuts:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp oil
For the muffins:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup flavourless oil
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup peel, chopped pears
Granulated sugar for sprinkling on the muffins.
To make the roasted walnuts, first preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Mix together all ingredients and lay walnuts out on a baking tray lined with grease-proof paper. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Remove about 2 tablespoons worth of walnuts to a separate bowl to use for topping the muffins.
Leave the oven on at 190 degrees C for the muffins. Line a muffin or cupcake tin with muffin or cupcake liners, set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt.
In a separate, smaller bowl, or a large jug, whisk together the sugars, eggs and oil.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Fold everything together until just incorporated. Add in the cranberries, pear and cooled walnuts. Continue folding until everything if completely mixed.
Using an ice cream scoop, or a large spoon, divide the batter between the twelve cases. Top with the walnuts and a sprinkling of granulated sugar.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until risen and golden, and a skewer or sharp knife comes out clean.
Remove from the tins and allow to cool on a wire rack.