9.16.2009

“…..that prince of foods... the muffin!” (From Frank Zappa’s Muffin Man)

Years ago someone gave me three little cookbooks by Elizabeth Alston; one was called Simply Cakes, another Biscuits and the last one Muffins.


Lots of lovely recipes in all her books- which made it damn near impossible to decide which book to tackle first, but of course I decided on muffins. I was a goner once I made the raspberry almond muffins; eventually tried nearly all of them and found quite a few I still make frequently, but the raspberry almond muffins became a family favorite.

Which brings me to my present situation: it’s time for my Garden Club’s first meeting of the season. I try to host the September meeting because it's smaller than the other meetings -so many members are still out of town. (September is Florida’s worst month weather wise……. I'd stay away too if I could figure out a way.) So instead of the normal 40 members only about 28 show up. Works for me ‘cause I can’t seat forty women in my living room - but 28 I can manage- with every single chair I own. Just.

As hostess, there’s not much to do except supply the coffee, juice and some nibble food. (And clean house and polish silver and fill every available container with fall flowers- oh yeah- Garden Club- remember?) Now we’re not talking big eaters here but I try to have a couple sweet breads and some muffins of some sort. For my sweet breads I always have Maida Heatter’s unreal delicious Chocolate Espresso Loaf  and this year, for a taste of fall, Ina Garten’s Date Spice Bread with orange cream cheese spread; then to top things off – those sweet little Raspberry & Almond Muffins from Elizabeth Alston’s book. Well, sweet if you like raspberry jam and almond paste, that is. And who doesn’t? As for me, I’m a sucker for almond paste. In anything. Even right out of the package.

For this group I make them in miniature muffin tins because everyone needs to have space for a muffin next to their coffee cup and not have to go through a balancing act when they want to take a sip of coffee. You gotta love the fact they freeze beautifully; thaw them overnight in the fridge and stick them (wrapped in foil) in a slow oven to warm them just before serving.

Raspberry Almond Muffins
(Adapted from Elizabeth Alston's Muffins)


Ingredients:
7 ounces almond paste
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk ( or plain yogurt)
Good quality raspberry preserves

 
Method:
Note: if you are using miniature muffin tins, don’t forget to adjust the size of the almond disks to fit the smaller size, (instead of 16 disks, make 32) the amount of batter in each muffin cup, the amount of raspberry preserves in each and you’ll find the baking time is a tad shorter.

However, the following recipe is for 16 regular sized muffins.
Preheat oven to 350°. I like to brush the entire top of the muffin tin lightly with oil so the muffins don’t stick. Then butter muffin tins inside and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs. Tap against the sink to remove excess crumbs.
Cut almond paste into 16 pieces and press each piece into a round disk. Beat butter until creamy and add sugar. Beat until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then mix in baking powder, baking soda and almond extract.
With a spatula, fold in 1 cup of flour, then the buttermilk and then the last of the flour. Mix only until well blended.
Spoon 2 tablespoons batter into each muffin cup, top with a small spoonful of raspberry preserves, then press the almond disk into the preserves. Top with another 2 tablespoons batter.


Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Turn out on a rack and let stand at least 10 minutes. Serve or freeze. Makes 16 regular muffins or 32 miniature muffins.

24 comments:

  1. Popped in from Marjie's to say hello! Lovely muffins!

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  2. These look divine. Another one I've got to try.

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  3. I like the raspberry surprise inside :) They do look nice, and thanks for the recommendation of the books - always looking for good ones.

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  4. Sounds yummy, Barbara, and looks delicious!

    dbe

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  5. Those look incredible! I made almond lemon, but you know, raspberry almost sounds better! It's hard to pry my fat fingers off those lemons, but raspberries - oooh - very close! I bet your friends love you!

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  6. Isn't it terrible to want to eat thick fall stews and muffins in weather over 80 degrees? It doesn't match!

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  7. here's my sterling comment: YUM! i've actually never worked with almond paste, but man, it makes for a looker of a muffin! the lovely preserves don't hurt, either. :)

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  8. I think that I might love these. I'm going to try these. Thanks for the recipe and for all the tips.

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  9. These look absolutely scrumptious! I love the raspberry & almond inside those delicious muffins!

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  10. Those look amazing, I love almond flavored anything!

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  11. These look absolutely yummy!
    I love almond paste! At Christmas we get imitation miniature fruit made out of it, and they are yummy too, but they don't last long!
    Being English, we make a big deal of taking tea! Tea-time, is between 4:00p.m. to 6:00p.m., Dinner is 6:00- 8:00 and anything past that is Supper!
    The making of tea is an art form in itself! If you are using fine china tea-cups, then milk goes in first, as it will cause the cup to crack. Boiling water doesn't go well with fine china, but everyday mugs, milk goes in last! Odd traditions, but interesting to know!
    Thanks for popping over to my site. You are very welcome!

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  12. Oh wow!! These are definitely my cup of tea! I am the same way with Almond Paste...I open a tin just to eat some out of it!!

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  13. Muffins are one of my favorite things to bake (second only to biscotti). I love having some in the freezer to pop into my lunch box.

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  14. These lovely muffins sound delicious. Almond and raspberry is such a great flavor combination!

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  15. Thanks for visiting my blog. Stop back by anytime!
    I love your cute little filled muffins!

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  16. Ummmm, almond muffins with a raspberry surprise! Sounds wonderful. I would need about 5 dozen for tomorrow morning. :)

    Thank you for visiting my blog today. I really enjoyed scrolling through yours.

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  17. Almond paste in muffins...sign me up!

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  18. These look so pretty and I think my mother has this cookbook--I know I've seen it somewhere. I must try this recipe!

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  19. Aw these are gorgeous. I heart the idea of baking them in advance too. Very delicious muffins!

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  20. I bet these muffins are great! Rasberry and almond is a very common and popular flavour combination here in england. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

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  21. I love raspberry. These muffins look so good!

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  22. I love almond but have yet to try almond paste and of course raspberry is always a winner!

    Btw, I noticed you said you were in FL. Where are you? I'm in Cent. FL, Seminole County.

    Almost forgot...thanks for visiting my blog and commenting! :)
    ~ingrid

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  24. I feel the same way about almond paste. Can't wait to try these muffins.
    Mimi

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