From time to time, I will find ingredients in my kitchen pantry and want to use them in a new recipe. Muffins are great for experimenting in the kitchen.
Some time ago, I purchased a bag of dried apricots. I really don't know why, because they’re not one of my favorite foods. Perhaps it was the texture that intrigued me. As I was passing by the produce department of the supermarket, I picked up a package and they were so soft. Many times dried fruits are so firm that you need to soak them before using them. Suffice it to say, the package of apricots found its way into my shopping cart.
Later, while working on recipes for a new cookbook, I remembered the dried apricots and decided to use them in some muffins. I also opted to use heavy cream, also known as whipping cream, as I already had some in the refrigerator. Because I was using whipping cream, no butter or other fat was needed. It is amazing what whipping cream does for the texture of these muffins.
When they came out of the oven, I could hardly wait to spread some butter on one and I certainly wasn't disappointed.
Of course, muffins don't have to be sweet. There are some very good savory versions. I like the following Denver Muffins — filled with onions, bell pepper, ham and cheese, it’s like lunch in a muffin. And tucked away in the center is a soft cream cheese mixture.
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons minced onions
1 tablespoon minced bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped cooked ham
1/2 cup shredded taco blend cheese (or cheese of choice)
12 teaspoons onion and chives soft cream cheese
Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat muffin pan with cooking spray. In one bowl, combine flour and cornmeal mix. Stir to mix. In another bowl, combine egg, buttermilk and melted butter. Beat with a fork until blended. Combine the two mixtures, mixing only until well moistened. Stir in onions, bell pepper, ham and cheese. Spoon into muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Spray the back of a teaspoon and press it into each muffin making a small well. Place a teaspoon of the onion and chive cream cheese into the hole. Carefully spread muffin mixture over the cream cheese, enclosing it. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Best served slightly warm.
2 cups self-rising flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup chopped dried apricots
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 cup whipping cream (not whipped)
Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine flour, sugar and lemon zest. Stir to mix. Remove 1/4 cup and sprinkle over apricots. Stir to coat well. Set aside. In small bowl, combine eggs, lemon juice and butter flavoring. Whisk until mixed. Add to flour mixture and mix. Gradually add whipping cream mixing only until ingredients are moistened. Stir in apricots. Spoon evenly into greased standard muffin tin (12 portions). Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan immediately onto rack to cool slightly. Great with butter.
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