20 January 2014

Carrot Currant [Carrot Cake!] Muffins

Confession: I dread being asked what my favorite food is.  I clam up, nervously searching my brain, hoping that my indecision will lift its grip on me for just long enough to come up with an acceptable answer:

"Ummmm..."

"Oh come on, you must have a favorite!?"

"Uhhhhh..."

"Really?"

"Vegetables."

"Ha. Ha. That's a food group.  Seriously though, what's your fav..."

At this point I'm usually wide-eyed and biting my lip.  I don't know.  I just don't.  That's like trying to make me pick a favorite NKOTB [oh Joey...] or a favorite body part [my right foot!].  Ok those were bad examples, but I could never pick a favorite food or even a favorite recipe.  It just feels wrong.  I love food.  All food.  Any food that isn't an olive.

Ask me what my favorite dessert is.

"Carrot cake!!!"

Boom!  Didn't even stutter.

I can even tell you what exact type of carrot cake is my most favoritest.  Publix.  Hands down.  Done deal.  I'll eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I have the chance.  Oh and I did have the chance.  One word:  Pregnancy.  Spending the last month of my preggo plague in Pensacola, Florida meant there was a giant bar of carrot cake in my hotel mini fridge at all times.  It really did make a fantastic breakfast.  Adding coffee and a banana makes just about any food a breakfast food in my book!

Carrot Currant -[Carrot Cake!]- Muffins

warning: expect to see an excess of muffin manhandling in this photo shoot.  I couldn't keep my hands off them!


Carrot Cake Muffins

Carrot Currant -Carrot Cake!- Muffins
[makes 10-12 fluffy muffins]
ingredients:
1 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup coconut milk [or regular milk]
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 TBSP vinegar
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour or whole white wheat
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1  large egg
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup brown sugar [packed] plus 1 TBSP extra, to taste
1 cup shredded/grated carrots
1/3 cup currants
1/2 cup chopped baking walnuts
cinnamon sugar for topping [optional]

adapted from simple bites

For those of you slightly confused over the use of currants in this recipe, fear not!  They're essentially the darling of the raisin family.  Smaller and more flavorful than their popular counterpart, currants are made from seedless red or black grapes while raisins are made from white grapes.  You can find them in the dried fruit aisle in many if not most grocery stores.  Different varieties exist but I always grab the Sunmaid's Zante Currants in the orange box!  Can't find them?  Grab a box of raisins or skip the dried fruit entirely and stir in some extra walnuts!  As for the spoonful of vinegar, it takes your milk from plain old milk to fancy schmantzy "buttermilk" and adds a wee bit of extra fluff factor to the muffins.  Game on.

Carrot Currant Muffins

prepwork: in a large mixing bowl, combine oats, milk, yogurt and vinegar in a mixing bowl, stir to coat, and allow to sit for 30-60 minutes to soften the oats [oatmeal style!] and give the vinegar a chance to work its magic.  You can also pull your egg and carrots from the fridge to reach room temperature alongside it for best results.  Out of all three  test batches, the one I set out for an hour came out the fluffiest!

get baking!
As mentioned above, combine oats, milk, yogurt, and vinegar and allow to and let sit/soak.  Next preheat the oven to 375F and grease a non-stick muffin pan by spritzing with spray oil [I use a coconut one] or butter.  In a separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.  In the bowl with the wet oat mixture, stir in egg, butter, applesauce, vanilla, brown sugar, carrots, and currants and mix with a fork until fully incorporated.  Whisk together the dry ingredients and, using a sifter or a sieve, sift the flour mixture into the carrot mixture slowly, stirring with a fork to combine.  Mix until just combined, avoiding over mixing the batter.  Lastly, fold in the walnuts.  Your final batter should be thick, sticky, and springy and your fork should almost be able to stand upright in the batter.  Pour into greased muffin tin.  For small muffins, you can divide the batter equally into 12 muffins but I prefer to fill 10 of the 12 at least 3/4 of the way full, for larger muffins with a bit of a muffin top.  For a slightly sweeter muffin, top each with an optional sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.  Set your muffin tin atop an aluminum baking sheet [optional; this helps prevent the bottoms from over browning] and bake for 12-15 minutes for 12 smaller muffins and 18-20 minutes for 10 larger muffins.  Test with a toothpick and allow to cool to room temperature before faceplanting.

Store individually wrapped in cling wrap in an airtight container for up to four days.

feeling fancy?  Drizzle with homemade cream cheese icing and top with crushed walnuts, carrot-cake style!

super simple cream cheese icing
4 TBSP cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2-1 TBSP milk or coconut milk
a teeny drop of vanilla, to taste
1.5-2 cups powdered sugar

In a medium-sized bowl, whip cream cheese with an electric hand mixer [No hand mixer?  Grab a fork and whisk away! It's a bonus arm workout!] on low to fluff.  Add half the milk and a tiny drop of vanilla, and slowly beat while spooning in the powdered sugar.

For a thicker frosting, add less liquid or extra cream cheese and powdered sugar.  For icing, slowly add extra milk until the mixture thins into a yummy glaze perfect for drizzling!  There's no right or wrong way to make an icing so have fun and play around until you reach your idea of a perfect sweet topping!  You can even skip the vanilla and add a little lemon zest to the mix!  These fluffy muffins are fantastic all on their own, but sometimes it's fun [and delicious!] to get a little frosty!

carrot cake muffins with cream cheese icing

Carrot Currant [Carrot Cake!] Muffins

so...how were they!?
So remember how I mentioned that these went through three glorious rounds of recipe testing?  Well, that's around 30 muffins.  I shared 8.  That's it.  Not one batch made it past the two day mark in my kitchen either.  I think that's a muffin scarfing world record.  I'd easily give Joey Chestnut a run for his money if we subbed the hot dogs with these muffins.

Seriously though, they're fantastic!  I'll spare squeamish readers by skipping the m-word but these definitely weren't dry! Fluffy, flavorful, and loaded with nutrients, these make carrot cake for breakfast a much more acceptable ordeal.  Leave a few plain to nibble on morning commute to work and frost a few for a guilt-free dessert!

"So what's your favorite vegetable?"

"Uhhh...."

Pin It!

38 comments:

  1. I hate being asked my favorite food too! Ha I always end up saying something stupid like bananas? pretzels? protein bars? uhhh... Anywho...these look scrumptious! I do LOVE carrot cake. Especially the cream cheese frosting. I could eat that stuff by the spoonful :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. OMG, making these!! Carrot cake is my all time favorite dessert! Thanks for the recipe, Ill be pinning for later use!

    ReplyDelete
  3. My dad is a carrot cake junkie (seriously it's a problem!) so I might have to whip him up a batch of these as a treat :) They look seriously amazing... even before you added the frosting!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes ma'am!!! Carrot cake is second only to chocolate cake in my dessert ranking. My grandmother used to make it all the time, and I still request my mom to make the recipe for my birthday. So. Good.


    These have oats in them. That means it's a breakfast food, no? :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I need this in my life. Pronto. I used to dislike carrot cake but my tastes seem to have changed last year and now I Lovee it. Great recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, my. These look sooo good. We don't have Publix in the god-forsaken midwest, but go there when we visit my best friend in Nashville. Their muffins and cupcakes are the best. I love that these are "fluffy", which is what I will be if I make these and don't put at least half of them in the freezer. Yum!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Emily @ Life on FoodMonday, January 20, 2014

    I have so many favorite foods. It is hard to pick. These look fantastic. Frosting included!

    ReplyDelete
  8. carrot cake is my favorite dessert too!!! YES! pinning this one :) xo jillian - cornflake dreams

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Margaret! I think canning might curdle the cheese a bit, just judging by the ingredients used in most canned cheese-based soups. They tend to all go for processed cheeses [like velveeta and american cheese] and I suspect it's because of the curdling issue and not just the cost. It freezes well though! I like to freeze the base of the soup minus the cheese and then when I'm reheating on the stove top, toss the cheese in. This could work for canning too actually! You can can the seasonings, milk, broth, veggies, etc.. and then when you heat up the can/jar add the cheese in before serving! Let me know if you wind up trying it out! And thanks for stopping by! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh my gosh, Jenn, these look amazing!!! It's snowing by me today...and the gym is closed...so instead of working out I will be making these TONIGHT! Carrot cake is my most favooooooooorite cake in the world. I haven't decided if I'm sharing these with my husband or keeping them all to myself yet...but I'm leaning towards the latter.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Is it possible to make this in the crockpot?

    ReplyDelete
  12. And...you had to take a bite out of the one with the largest glob of frosting AND photograph it - this leaves me with incredible foodenvy!
    excuse while I go bury my head in my unfrosted almond honey pancakes!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Can I put all of this in the crock pot and start it in the morning while I'm at work.?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Any chance you have tried a gluten free recipe for these?? PLEASE!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Joannie! I have a similar recipe that's gluten-free: http://www.peasandcrayons.com/2012/06/gluten-free-carrot-coconut-muffins.html and you could also sub the all-purpose and whole wheat flour in this recipe for a high quality GF all-purpose blend! I want to experiment with making a homemade gluten free flour blend but until then, I tend to gravitate towards the premixed ones for convenience! Hope that helps! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Dawn! Yes! I once burned a batch trying to put it in the crock pot on high, so I'd keep it on low and maybe not let it run TOO too long so the veggies don't soak up all the liquid [the issue I run into sometimes with lengthy slow cooker sessions] My other tip would be to grate the cheese ahead of time but leave it in the fridge until you arrive home and are ready to eat. Then add the cheese a few minutes before serving!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Becky@TheSavedRunnerWednesday, January 22, 2014

    These look amazing! I love carrot cake too! I need to try this recipe. :) Oh and I have no idea what I would say if someone asked me my favorite vegetable either. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anne@ Inhabited KitchenWednesday, January 22, 2014

    Oh, those look good! I'm going to have to play with them.

    How on earth can anyone have a favorite food? When I'm stuck, I say cheese - but again, that's really too broad, and it's not true when what I really want is a cool cucumber salad, or warm comforting chicken soup, or...

    ReplyDelete
  19. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeetsWednesday, January 22, 2014

    I can see why you couldn't keep your hands off. The Hubby was just asking me for carrot cake last weekend too. I think I know what I'll be making this weekend now. These are fabulous.
    I could never pick a favorite veggie either. You're in good company.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This soup is amazing! Thanks for the recipe, I didn't have gouda so I substituted some mozza ands its so yummy, I will make it again because I want to try it with gouda! I also added a pinch of mustard powder.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have made two versions of broccoli cheese soup. One with velveeta which was gross. The other with real cheese similar to this recipe. It turned out ok the flavor was great but the cheese melted then curdled in the soup. Any tips to avoid this so I can have a creamy soup?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hey Deanna! The recipe in the post above has a ton of detailed tips for preventing grittiness and curdling without using processed cheeses. The main things I would seek out are high quality, full-fat cheeses, grate freshly, add cheese slowly at the very end on lower heat, and make sure that if you use a roux [flour and butter] to thicken that you give it time to cook and develop. If you try to rush the roux it will grit the soup up. Hope that helps! xo

    ReplyDelete
  23. I left some crockpot tips on the comment above but I'll repost it here so this hopefully sends to your email! Keep the pot on low and try not let it run TOO too long so the veggies don't soak up all the liquid [the issue I run into sometimes with lengthy slow cooker sessions] My other tip would be to grate the cheese ahead of time but leave it in the fridge until you arrive home and are ready to eat. Then add the cheese a few minutes before serving. The stovetop version relies on a roux that is hard to accomplish in a crockpot so it never comes out quite as thick and creamy but the flavor is still there! You can also prep all the ingredients ahead of time to make it a breeze to cook up on the stove top if you're craving the thickness of a typical B+C soup -- that's usually the route I take! Hope this helps! xo

    ReplyDelete
  24. I used gluten free mama's coconut flour blend in place of the flour and it turned out great!

    ReplyDelete
  25. This recipe was DEE-licious! I think I will double the recipe next time since my four boys and hubby scarfed it up! I did add some celery but otherwise stuck to the recipe. I appreciate that this doesn't have velveeta in it since we cannot get that here in Europe and I have been trying to eat "cleaner" since the New Year. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I make this every couple of weeks. I double or tripple the recipe. its spot on.

    ReplyDelete
  27. the fact that this is even compared to Paneras soup is a sad, sad lie. It was gross.. My cheese melted well and did not curd however it was DEE-Bad. I will definitely use a different recipe next time.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This is really tasty. Followed most of the recipe, except used all sharp cheddar. I will be making this again! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Just made this and ended up throwing it out. It was gross. Hubby wouldn't even eat his. What a waste of money. Think next time I'll just buy Panera's soup.

    ReplyDelete
  30. The first time I tried this recipe out, I made it with Muenster and extra sharp cheddar. It turned out okay. I decided to give it another go, using Smoked Gouda, and this time it turned out fantastic! I actually left out the bay leaf because I didn't have any on hand and added a little extra cayenne pepper... delicious! I also used mostly organic ingredients, which makes it even better. It was nice to find a REAL cheese recipe. Thanks so much for sharing! :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. I've made this before and I am going to make it again today! I loved it! Thanks for the recipe!! :D

    ReplyDelete
  32. That I believe speaks to either the chicken broth you made or cheese you used. I made this recipe and it was damn good.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thanks Mary! I'm glad you enjoyed the soup! <3

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hey Mary! Sorry to hear that it wasn't to your liking. The cheeses and broth do certainly make a huge difference, and I understand everyone has different tastes!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Made this last month with no special trip to the store, just what I had on hand. Soooo good! I'm a lazy cook, so I went with the potato thickened route. Who has time and patience for a roux??? Lol Put 2 potatoes, broccoli, onion, garlic and chicken broth in pot, simmered. Got out my handy dandy stick blender, blended. Added 1 can evaporated milk and havarti/leftover Mexican trio mix cheese pack from tacos the day before, turned off heat. Served with crusty garlic bread. Holy cow, best broccoli cheese soup I have ever eaten! And it has been requested to be made again.... only have cheddar cheese, so we shall see how it turns out tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete