Much of the time, the ideas for my *SANE concoctions are really rather random. I might be rambling through the produce section and spy some staggeringly sexy looking vegetable, or I’ll affectionately remember something I used to love eating when I was young and use that as a starting point for a SANE version. Every once in a while I have a plan.
There was absolutely nothing random about these muffins. They were inspired by a donut. A very particular donut. A very special donut. I made them in honor of the world’s best donut – the Apricot Cardamom Donut – which can be found in abundance, languishing in a deep fat fryer over at Dynamo Donuts, in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District.
My first rendezvous with this glorious donut-of-all-donuts came after a chance encounter with a stranger at Lennox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, long before Mr. Bailor came charging into my life with all this talk of eating more and exercising less, smarter. I was still living in it-doesn’t-matter-what-I-do-I-can’t-lose-weight land. Donuts were my friend.
Since that first taste of the exquisiteness that is Dynamo’s Apricot Cardamom Donut, I have been entirely unable to go anywhere near San Francisco without swinging by to eat one. Or, let’s face it – several. On New Years Day 2012 - on my drive back to Seattle from a 2-week photo shoot to Southern California – I detoured 83 miles off the I-5 and paid road tolls in order to drive through San Francisco expressly to stop and eat Apricot Cardamom Donuts at Dynamo. And last April, those brilliant folks at Dynamo made a batch of them just for me when they found out I was leaving for the long haul back to Seattle the next day. Yeah. I am *really* fond of these donuts.
With a San Francisco drive-by pending, memories of donut awesomeness were careering around my brain as I was starting to pack. Then it occurred to me that all I had to do was create a SANE version. Ding! Ding! Ding! So in honor of the finest donut ever to pass my lips, I give you Apricot Cardamom Muffins.
The smell wafting around the Marmalade HQ kitchen while these were baking was fragrantly delicious beyond description. I almost could not wait to pull them out of the oven. And when they were out, I was in Apricot Cardamom heaven. Not to mention that everyone at the office let out a chorus of “Mmmmmmmmm’s!!” when they tried them. These might just be my favorite thing I’ve made yet.
I took some into the studio for Jonathan to munch on while we were podcasting. His reaction was epic. Arms waving wildly, he exclaimed, “These muffins are the **bleep** BOMB!!” I think he liked them. I have never seen Bailor get so excited about food. Honestly, I didn’t think Bailor could get that excited about food. He said, “I feel like I could be sitting in a Parisian café sipping coffee and eating fantastic cake”. He is so cute when he gets excited.
If you tried the Cinnamon Raisin Muffins, these are quite different. They are more like cake than the rugged, nuttiness of the Cinnamon Raisin ones. And given that I am perpetually confused over American names for food, I wondered if I should call these Apricot Cardamom Cupcakes instead. Which got me thinking about whether I even understood what the difference was between the two. I didn’t. A short search on the internet set me straight though, and made me feel better; because it turns out no one knows. I found a hundred different – often heated – debates on the difference between the two. Blimey, the things people get upset about. In the end I decided to go with my favorite cupcake v. muffin difference quote:
“Nothing,” the pastry chef said, explaining that when it comes to breakfast, Americans have a Puritanical inhibition. “Muffins are just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast”.
Call them a muffin or call them a cupcake – eat these babies for breakfast and have yourself a seriously *SANE and delicious start to your day.
- Coconut oil spray
- 2 oz / 55g sunflower seeds
- ½ oz / 15g chia seeds
- 4½ oz / 125g almond flour / ground almonds (NOT meal)
- 1 oz / 28g vanilla whey protein powder
- 3 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 oz / 55g xylitol
- 4 oz / 110g dried apricots, finely chopped
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup / 6 fl oz. cold water
- Spray 12 silicone muffin cups with coconut oil spray and place in muffin pan.
- Grind the sunflower and chia seeds in a coffee grinder until very fine. (If you use a Vitamix be very careful you do not end up with sunflower butter!)
- Tip ground seeds into a mixing bowl and add the almond flour, whey powder, cardamom, baking powder, salt, and xylitol and mix thoroughly.
- Add the chopped apricots and rub through the dry ingredients with your fingers to separate the pieces.
- Whisk the eggs and cold water in a bowl and add to the dry ingredients, mixing quickly until completely combined.
- Carefully pour or spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cups – they should be slightly under-filled.
- Place in center of oven at 300F for 35 minutes, until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes until you can handle the silicone cups.
- Turn each cup top down in one hand, and using the other hand gently squeeze the sides of the cup all the way round until the sides release and the muffin pops out. Be gentle.
- Place each muffin on a cooling rack to cool.