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BellaOnline's Desserts Editor

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September 11 2006 Desserts Newsletter


Here's the latest article from the Desserts site at BellaOnline.com.

Sweet Sensations
Editor: Sandra L. Garth
September 11, 2006
Issue #3

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CONTENTS
o Editor's Notes
o Muffin Mania
o REVIEW: Sweet Jazmines Sweet Potato Muffin
o Muffin Recipes
o Copyright Info

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o Editor's Notes
============================================================

Hi Dessert Lovers!

Fall is so close we can almost feel it, especially up here in the Northern part of the country. This time of year always makes me want to dig out my old recipes and search for new ones. Fall and baking seem to go hand in hand, and muffins are the perfect recipe for this time of year. What’s more comforting on a crisp autumn day, than a warm muffin and a mug of your favorite hot beverage.

Life is Short, Have Dessert
Sandra

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o Muffin Mania
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One reference describes a muffin as a quick bread. Quick breads are leavened by chemicals (baking powder/salt) as opposed to yeast. Muffins were developed in the latter part of the eighteenth century, when pearlash ( forerunner of baking powder) was discovered. The Dictionary of American Regional English describes a muffin as a small cake: a cupcake. Which makes sense to me as I was never able to really tell the difference between the two. Due to the fact they are made from a batter and not dough they have to be baked in molds, which are known as muffin tins or cupcake pans. The really fun part is that they are easy and quick to bake. However, as with most baking projects, sometimes things go awry. Do you have any idea as to why your muffin may have turned out sticky? What on earth made them hard after your best effort to follow the recipe to a “T”? Look over this list for some troubleshooting tips.

That’s a Tuffy

A tough muffin is generally the result of a batter that has been stirred too long. Muffin batter should be lumpy; with ingredients only being stirred until they are just moist. It’s a good idea to use a wooden spoon or wire whisk rather than an electric mixer. In addition if you are going to add fruit or nuts to the batter, take care to combine wet and dry ingredients until barely moistened. Adding fruits and nuts makes the batter more difficult to stir, which makes you want to stir more to thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients.

Heavy Duty

Got a heavy muffin on your hands? You may have added to much egg or liquid. If you’ve followed the recipe exactly you may be tempted to add more flour or less egg. That may only make it worse. Could be that you just have a bad recipe.

Soggy Sides

If you leave muffins in the pan to long they will sweat. Muffins made without a pan liner should be removed from the tin right away, and placed on a wire rack for cooling.

Pale Sticky Tops

Muffins should be baked at 350-400° F (usually) and for approximately 20-30 minutes (recipes will vary). If the color and texture of your muffin tops are not to your liking, leave them in the oven for a few extra minutes. Test one for doneness with a toothpick or tip of a knife inserted into the center. If it is done and you still don’t like the look and feel of the tops, you can always drizzle them lightly with a powdered sugar glaze.

That’s the Way the Tasteless Muffin Crumbles

Did you remember to add the sugar? Muffin batter without sugar turns out more like a biscuit. You can still eat them if you don’t mind having biscuits.

Rising to the Occasion

Baking powder and salt make baked goods rise. Double check the recipe and back track your steps to make sure that those two ingredients got in, and in the proper amounts. You’re sure you added them? Check the expiration date on the baking powder. Expired baking powder will give poor results.

Solid as a Rock (Almost)

Are parts of your muffin hard (Yikes) ? More than likely the egg wasn’t mixed in thoroughly. When a recipe calls for a beaten egg, beat it until it is light and frothy before adding it to the remaining wet ingredients. After you have added it to the wet ingredients, beat the combined mixture again.

More Helpful Hints

Read the recipe first. (Sounds like a no-brainer, but some people just jump right in) Before you start baking, have all of the ingredients measured out and on hand. Make sure you also have all the utensils needed. There is nothing worse than discovering that you don’t have the ingredient or utensil once you are in the middle of the recipe. After you’re done and you have the finished product, jot down some quick notes.

What could you have done differently if anything?
Was the yield correct?

Can you make variations from the recipe?

What was your family’s reaction?


Baking is science, but not rocket science. Relax, enjoy the process and results. If your muffins don’t turn out the way you want, you can always try again. Have fun this week and bake up a batch of muffins.


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o REVIEW: Sweet Jazmines Sweet Potato Muffin
============================================================

Recently I saw a profile on the Food Network of a bakery in Berwyn, Pennsylvania called Sweet Jazmines. The pastry shop specializes in spectacular gourmet desserts made from scratch. Pastry Chef and owner Kimberly Davis Cuthbert opened the doors to Sweet Jazmines in 1996. This award winning graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York has an impressive array of high end treats to satisfy even the most discriminating sweet tooth. Sweet Jazmines has been awarded Philly Magazine’s Best of Philly® 2000 and 2001 for Custom Desserts and Cheesecakes and Best of the Main Line 2001-2003 for Cheesecakes and Desserts. Drool with me over some of these selections: Pecan Sable Cookies, Triple Chocolate Brownies, Miniature Raspberry Napoleons, White Chocolate Cappuccino Cheesecake (be still my beating heart). That’s just a short list.

From personal experience, let me tell you that Chef Kim also makes muffins that have been kissed with perfection. All of her muffins are topped off with a glaze that heightens the flavor of the incredibly moist muffin nestled beneath it. The Sweet Potato Muffin with the Triple Sec glaze is the absolute best. The muffins are big enough to share, but this is a treat you’ll want to keep for yourself. If you live outside of Berwyn, PA don’t despair, desserts from Sweet Jazmines are available online and can be shipped to you. Check out the online pastry offerings at http://www.sweetjazmines.com. Oh, and when your package arrives try to contain yourself.

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o Muffin Recipes
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Black Forest Muffins

Don’t let the long list of ingredients keep you from trying these gourmet muffins. The time and calorie expenditure will be worth it once you taste them.

6 oz Semisweet chocolate
¼ cup butter
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup sugar
1 egg , lightly beaten
2 tablespoons cherry brandy
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
12 oz pitted dark sweet cherries, frozen, thawed, drained and
coarsely chopped
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon Salt

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate with butter over low heat. Pay attention to the chocolate while it is melting, it will burn easily. You could also melt in in the microwave and 50% power for two minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Still watch it closely; it’ll burn quicker in the microwave. Let stand 10 minutes, or until cooled. In a small bowl, stir chocolate mixture with buttermilk, sugar, egg, brandy, and vanilla until blended; stir in cherries. In a large bowl, combine together flour, baking soda, and salt. Really give them a good mix with a whisk to blend them well. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; add chocolate mixture and stir just to combine. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 400° F for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick, or tip of a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove muffin tin to wire rack. Cool 5 minutes before removing muffins from cups; finish cooling on rack. Makes about 12 muffins.

Blueberry Muffins

Classic and always good. These are extra yummy when served slightly warm.

2 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 TBS baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Mix together the milk, oil, and egg, then add to the dry ingredients, stir just until moistened. A wooden spoon or wire whisk works best. Batter will be and should be lumpy. Fold in the blueberries, do this gently so as not to pierce the berries, and if you are using frozen berries, it’s better if they are NOT thawed. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes. Immediately remove from pans and cool on a wire rack. Makes about 12 muffins.

Quick & Easy Banana Praline Muffins

This is a good breakfast muffin, especially if you feel you must eat on the run.

1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS light sour cream
3 small ripe bananas
1 large egg
1 ½ cups pancake mix
½ cup sugar
2 TBS vegetable oil

Combine brown sugar and sour cream, stir in pecans and set aside. Mash bananas in a medium bowl, then add egg, pancake mix, sugar and oil. Stir just until moistened. A wooden spoon or wire whisk works best. Batter will be and should be lumpy. Spoon evenly into prepared muffin tins, filling three-fourths full, taking care not to over fill. Carefully spoon pecan mixture in center of each muffin. Bake at 400° F for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pans and cool on a wire rack. Makes 12 muffins.

Cranberry Orange Muffin

The name alone evokes a fall feeling. Can you imagine how good your kitchen is going to smell when you bake these.

2 cups self rising flour
¾ cup dried cranberries
½ cup sugar
1 cup milk
¼ vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 TBS grated orange rind

Mix together the cranberries, flour, and sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Whisk the milk, oil, and eggs until well blended, (See troubleshooting hints about mixing eggs and wet ingredients) and add to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. A wooden spoon or wire whisk works best. Batter will be and should be lumpy. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tins, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 400° F for 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden. Makes 12 muffins.

Enhancements

Flavored butters are an excellent accompaniment to muffins. Try one of these on muffins or biscuits.

Cinnamon Butter

½ cup butter, softened
1 ½ TBS
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Makes ½ cup.

Orange Honey Butter

½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 TBS honey
1 TBS grated orange zest
In a small bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in honey and orange zest until well blended. Makes 1/2 cup.

Sweet Lemon Butter

1 cup butter, soft
¼ cup lemon juice
2 TBS powdered sugar
Grated peel of 1 lemon

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and purée until smooth. Refrigerate covered about 2 hours until firm. Makes 1 cup.


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o Copyright Information
=========================================================

Copyright [2006] by [BellaOnline.com], All Rights
Reserved.

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