November 10, 2007
aka "Desert Mini Muffins"
This past week my computer had to make the trek to the Dell Depot to be repaired. I planned ahead and got all the information I needed for the week, but still some things didn't quite work as I had intended. I'm not the best at working from a paper calender anymore and I found myself double checking all my appointments. I had challenges with email addresses, files and pictures.
Yesterday, my computer returned from it's solitary trek, riding up in the vibrant yellow and red truck of DHL. There was an immediate sigh of relief from everyone in the house. The kids were delighted it was back so they could battle virtual bad guys side by side. My husband was relieved as it was a computer lamb returning to his technology fold. As for me, I was thrilled my life could return to normal. I could put away the paper and say good bye to all my crumpled to-do lists.
While in my semi-lost state this past week, I wanted to create a muffin that would celebrate all the desert products I have in my pantry. I decided on creating Prickly Pear Mesquite Mini Muffins. Filled with prickly pear nectar, agave syrup, mesquite flour, pine nuts and chia seeds, the muffins are fragrant with a delicate sweetness and the tender crunch of pine nuts.
I discovered the first time I tested my recipe, that something was going on with my ingredient list that I hadn't known. The muffins baked up beautiful on the outside, but the insides were another story. They had an airy yet firm gelatinous texture. As it turns out, prickly pears have quite a bit of natural pectin in their skin and flesh. Interestingly prickly pears are good for lowering cholesterol, blood glucose levels, and has a future as a cancer chemopreventative food. Prickly pear fruit has fiber, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6 and potassium.
So, the chia seeds I had used as my binder weren't needed to hold the muffins together, the prickly pear nectar had enough pectin to do the job alone. However, I did want to use the chia seeds for the extra nutrition they would add to the muffins, although I had to be careful when I added them to the recipe to keep them from creating a binding gel. To keep the chia seeds from gelling much I added them to the recipe last. Then quickly poured the batter into the muffin cups and baked the mini muffins.
2/3 cup brown rice flour
2/3 cup sweet rice flour
2/3 cup arrowroot starch
3 Tb mesquite flour*
1 Tb baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup prickly pear nectar*
1/4 cup gluten free oat milk**
1/4 cup melted vegetable shortening
1/4 cup agave syrup*
1 tsp chia seed, saved till last*
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and place out 36 mini muffin papers on a cookie sheet. Do not raise the temperature to cook the muffins faster, as the mesquite flour cooks quickly and can over cook causing a slightly burnt caramel flavor.
2. In a medium bowl, dump in the first seven dry ingredients and stir together.
3. In a medium bowl, dump in the egg, water, prickly pear nectar oat milk, melted shortening, and agave nectar. Stir together.
4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and quickly blend together. Sprinkle the chia seeds over the top and fold the seeds into the mixture.
5. Spoon the muffin batter into the muffin cups and cook for 25 minutes. Allow to cool before removing them from the muffin cups.
What did my family think of my prickly pear mesquite mini muffins? They were a hit with all of us. Although my husband and I liked them most when served warm. This one is a keeper.
* I purchased my prickly pear nectar from Native Seeds/SEARCH, but you can also find it at the Arizona Cactus Ranch. I purchased my chia seeds, agave nectar and mesquite flour from Native Seeds/SEARCH. My pine nuts came from Trader Joe's.
** To make oat milk: 1/2 cup of cooked gluten free oatmeal (rolled gluten free oats, water, salt) and 2 cups water, 2 Tb agave nectar placed into a food processor. Process until blended and refrigerate.