Hands down, my favorite meal is breakfast. Back when I was a kid, I didn't love breakfast as much as I do now, but that's probably because my mother insisted on serving us eggs "country style". Country style is just a fancy way of saying runny, and I didn't (and still don't) like runny eggs.
But I digress. Now that I've learned that eggs don't have to be jiggling on the plate, I actually really like them. I also love all the things that go with eggs: bacon, toast, potatoes, and yes... muffins. I love a good muffin. For me, a good muffin has nice texture, a little crunch, and isn't too sweet. Muffins are after all, a breakfast food.
But just how many banana nut and blueberry muffins can a girl make, before she finds herself longing for something just a little different? A long time apparently. I've been making banana muffins for what seems like forever. Don't get me wrong. I love a good banana nut muffin, but I do often long for something a little different.
Thanks to Smitten Kitchen, my wish was grated in the form of these absolutely delicious pear hazelnut muffins. Pears? You thought pears were only for baby food, but you would be wrong. Their soft, sweet taste permeates these tender muffins. The hazelnuts give an appealing crunch, and the chocolate well, that just adds a little something-something extra.
These muffins are a whole new way of looking at pears.
Recipe: Pear and Hazelnut Muffins
Adapted from Whole Grain Mornings and Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 16 muffins (I sent a dozen to the office with Ted because I would have eaten all of them had they had remained in the house.)
2 small-medium firm pears
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (plus more for cups if you're not using liners)
2/3 cup (125 grams) natural cane sugar, such as Turbinado, light brown or granulated sugar (I used Turbinado)
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup (75 grams) rolled oats
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (120 grams) toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (85 grams) bittersweet chocolate chunks (optional, but not optional for me.)
Heat oven to 425°F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line it with papers.
Peel the pears, then halve and core them. Grate pears on the large holes of a boxed grater into a large bowl. You should have about 1 cup grated pear. Stir in melted butter, sugar, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until combined.
In a separate bowl, stir together the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices, salt, all but 1/2 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts, and chocolate chunks, if you’re feeling extra indulgent. Gently fold this dry ingredient mixture into the wet batter until just combined; do not overmix.
Fill muffin cups almost up to the top and sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup hazelnuts. Place muffins in oven and immediately reduce the heat to 375°F. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of muffins comes out batter-free.
Cool muffins in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Muffins will keep for 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container.