Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lemon Pine Nut Muffins

I was given a gift of some Meyer lemons last week and I’ve been wondering what to make with them.  After eating so many sweets during the holidays, I decided to make something a little more savory.  Meyer lemons are a sweeter, less acidic cousin to the more common varieties available in most stores.  They were brought to this country by Frank Meyer, a US Department of Agriculture employee, in 1908.  They’re thought to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, which explains their rounder shape and more orangey color.

If you’ve never had a Meyer lemon, you really should try one.  They’re really wonderful. They’re so good, you’ll want to go out and buy a tree.  You can grow them in a container if you don’t have a lot of garden space.
I started by removing the zest from one lemon.  You want to be sure and use organically grown citrus whenever you’re going to use the zest, to avoid eating the pesticide sprays.  You can use a regular lemon to make these muffins but they will have stronger tang to them.

Then I juiced the lemon and added the zest, some applesauce, some honey (you can sub agave if you’re vegan) vanilla, and melted Earth Balance butter substitute.

Next, I processed 1/4 cup of pine nuts with a 1/4 cup of the flour.  To this mixture, I added the remaining flour and pine nuts (reserve a few for decorating the tops), baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Then, I mixed the wet ingredients into the dry.  Divide the batter into 8 cup cake papers and bake.

You can reserve a little of the lemon juice and mix it with an equal part of honey or agave to brush on the top of the muffins for a lemony glaze.  I think it gives them a nice shine.

Lemon Pine Nut Muffins

Makes 8 muffins - Use organic ingredients whenever possible
1 lemon, zested and juiced.  Use a Meyer lemon if possible.
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup honey (or sub agave)
4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter substitute, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pine nuts, divided
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 375°
Zest the lemon
Juice the lemon
Mix the lemon juice, zest, applesauce, honey, vanilla and melted Earth Balance in a bowl.
In a food processor, process 1/4 cup of the pine nuts with 1/4 cup of the flour.
In a large bowl, mix together the pine nut flour mixture with the remaining flour, about 1/8 cup of the remaining pine nuts, the baking powder, soda and salt.
Pour the liquid mixture into the dry and stir until everything is well blended.
Line a muffin tin with 8 papers.
Scoop the batter into the papers, an ice cream scoop is helpful here.
Sprinkle the tops with pine nuts.
Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, test with a toothpick.
P.S. I want to thank Mother Nature for waiting a full minute after I pulled these muffins out of the oven before she started the lightening, thunder, rain, and hail that knocked out our power for 6 hours!  Luckily, there was still enough daylight to take pictures.

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