October 25, 2011
The word “amalgam” kept popping up in the article I was reading this morning, before I embarked on my Breakfast Tuesday endeavors. It’s a word I grew close to, and practically fell in love with, during my time in graduate school. I always thought “amalgam” and all its variants were apt words to use when talking about literature because it’s a word with a huge scope, a word that makes sure you know that there are many, many things you can and should consider when looking at other words on a page. It reminded me that words aren’t just words; they are words with past definitions, words coming out of someone’s mouth, words used while thinking about other words, etc. Looking it up now, though, I see the definition is a lot more straightforward. Apparently, an “amalgam” is primarily an alloy used for filling teeth, and only secondarily a “mixture of different elements”. I guess being immersed in a world where poetry is practically shooting out of your eye sockets makes you see and understand things differently (and abstractly, it seems).
Regardless of the dictionary definition, it kept jumping off the page and grabbing my attention, basically screaming at me, and then hopping around to each corner of my mind. I remembered how much I loved the word because I loved thinking about the world as a seamless combination of all things past, present, and future. I browsed breakfast recipes, to share this Tuesday, in this state of mind and felt compelled to throw a bunch of ingredients together into one, self-contained, breakfast food. Muffins seemed perfect for the job because you really can just throw a bunch of pantry/fridge/fruit basket ingredients together to make your own baked and breakfast appropriate amalgamation. According to my poetically-stretched and partly made-up definition, at least!
(PS- Fun fact: The online dictionary lists “cocktail” as a synonym for both “amalgam” and “amalgamation”.)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Plantain Muffins
(Recipe adapted from Handle the Heat, originally “Chocolate Banana Muffins”)
Yields 12 muffins
Notes: Since the original recipe did not call for peanut butter, you could easily skip it, and, if you’re craving a sweeter breakfast, you can fold one cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate into the batter before transferring it to the tin.
3 very ripe plantains, mashed
¼ cup creamy peanut butter, melted and slightly cooled
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line muffin tin(s) with cupcake papers or grease individual muffin cups.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until completely combined.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together plantains, peanut butter, sugar, egg, and applesauce until completely combined. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and fold ingredients together until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.
4. Fill each muffin cup almost to the top with an equal amount of muffin batter.
5. Bake muffins in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
6. Cool muffins in pan for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Muffins are best the day they are made, but can stay in an airtight container at room temperature up to two days. You could also freeze the muffins, baked or unbaked, up to a month, reheating or baking as needed.
April 28, 2011
I scrutinized the picture accompanying this recipe for a long time, adorable, brown-topped little cakes studded with chocolate chips. No frosting, no frills. Are they cupcakes, really? I mean, does a cake in a cupcake paper need frosting in order to become a cupcake? When you do some research, most people do draw a frosting line between cupcakes and muffins, but I for some reason I can’t rest with that. There has to be more to being a cupcake than a frosted top! Right? I began to question everything I knew about cupcakes, starting with giving this recipe a try.
So I went about chopping and mixing and baking and eating. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the end result. Although I did enjoy the chocolate chips throughout the cake (more cupcakes should have chocolate chips, I daresay), the cakes themselves were dry and, well, I kind of missed the frosting. Perhaps if these were introduced to me as a muffin I would have thought differently, expecting a drier, less sweet cake-type product, but I wouldn’t say they are what you expect when you think “cupcake”. In conclusion, I’m still on the fence regarding whether or not cupcakes need frosting to be considered cupcakes and I’m not sold on this recipe.
I’ll repeat, however, that I’m still intrigued by the idea of chocolate chip cupcakes. If you could pull off a hybrid cookie-cupcake, imagine the possibilities.
(Recipe adapted from Cupcakes, by Susanna Tee)
Yields 8 cupcakes
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (scant) cake flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
½ to ¾ cup chocolate chips or chopped semisweet, bittersweet, or dark chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a muffin tin with cupcake papers. I had to do two batches, since my pan only accommodates 6 muffin-size cakes.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until incorporated. Mixture will separate but not to worry! It will come together with the addition of dry ingredients. Add vanilla and stir to combine.
3. Add flour, baking soda, and salt to butter mixture. Stir until just combined, and then stir in chocolate chips.
4. Fill cupcake papers ¾ full, using either “guess-timation” or a ¼ cup ice cream scoop with release mechanism.
5. Bake cupcakes in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Tops will brown considerably, as a warning.
6. Let cupcakes cool in pan just a few minutes before removing them to a rack to cool completely.
These cupcakes are best eaten while still warm and/or on the same day, but if you must, store them in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.