[Carrot and Peanut Muffins]
In the interminable list of blessings that come with having a food blog is this one: readers will come forward and share their favorite recipes with you.
I am always honored to receive these gifts and the stories that are delivered with them, and even though I seldom get around to making the dishes (my epitaph will read, “So Many Recipes, So Little Time”; I’ve left instructions), they do contribute to my inner culinary landscape. I file them away in my bulging stash, complete with donor information so I can give proper credit if and when I take the recipe for a ride.
Today’s muffins were born from such a contribution, a recipe sent to me recently by a San Francisco-based, Spanish reader named Alex, who has come up with the formula to reproduce a carrot and hazelnut cake he had tasted at a tea parlor in Barcelona.
I’ve adapted the recipe a bit (“She Could Not Leave A Recipe Alone,” my tombstone will read also, in smaller letters), baking it as muffins instead of a cake, substituting ground peanuts (bought from an Ivorian shop the other day) for the ground hazelnuts, decreasing the amount of baking powder, using Olivier Roellinger’s poudre équinoxiale spice mix in place of lemon zest, and just adding the whole eggs to the batter instead of incorporating the stiff-beaten egg whites separately.
The latter two changes were for convenience’s sake: I had no lemons and, because I was baking these as a short diversion from my work, little time. The batter was quick and easy to assemble — no mixer or elbow grease needed — and the resulting muffins just the sort of gratification I needed on an industrious Saturday afternoon: the size of a child’s fist, they were moist, lightly crusty, and full of warm flavors, which bloomed even further over the next few days, as the muffin tops softened.
It occurred to me that there were distinct similarities between these muffins and my flourless orange and ginger cake (the proportions are comparable, and the grated carrots and boiled oranges play a similar part in the texture), which makes me think that one could omit the flour from these muffins.
Muffins Carotte et Cacahuète
270 grams (3 cups, loosely packed) grated carrots, from about 3 medium carrots
160 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp) raw cane sugar (I used rapadura sugar)
160 grams (1 2/3 cup) ground peanuts, toasted in a dry skillet (substitute other ground nuts — hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios…)
60 grams (1/2 cup) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
A good pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon warm spice mix (such as poudre équinoxiale, or a French four-spice mix, or a pumpkin pie mix)
Yields about 24 mini-muffins.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease a tray of mini-muffin molds.
Put the carrots in a large mixing-bowl. Add the eggs and beat with a fork until fluffy. Add the sugar and mix until combined. Add the peanuts and mix again. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a bowl. Add to the batter and mix until just combined.
Pour the batter in a freezer bag, tie shut, snip a corner to create a 1-cm (1/3 inch) opening, and use as a piping bag to fill the prepared muffin molds. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a knife inserted in the center of one comes out clean.
Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Unmold and let cool completely.
Note: The original version, as sent by Alex, calls for ground hazelnuts instead of ground peanuts; it has you beat the egg whites until stiff and incorporate them into the batter at the end; it also calls for twice the amount of baking powder, the zest from one lemon instead of the spices, and no salt.