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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cherry Almond Muffins

Believe it or not, I have been creating my own recipes since I was 5 years old. My friend Rachel's mom would allow us, even at that young age, to create catastrophes masterpieces in her kitchen on a regular basis. My mean wise mother would not!

By highschool I was regularly baking up treats for family and friends. At this stage in life I had not yet discovered that "healthy" and "treats" were not oxymorons. So it was ALL about decadence.

Some of my favorite recipes were:
* Moist carrot-pineapple cake with cream cheese icing
* A triple chocolate cake recipe using boxed cake mix, chocolate pudding, full-fat sour cream, 4 eggs, and an entire package of chocolate chips
* Gingerbread cake with lemon frosting
* Gingerbread cookies covered in icing and candies
* Caramel oat squares with a rich filling made from caramels and sweetened condensed milk, with a buttery oat crust
* Almond cherry pound cake

Now if you want stuff like this you'll have to go visit Paula Deen's website.

I have managed to recreate healthier versions of most of these, but for some reason, never tried to recapture the yummy flavours of the pound cake. I love almonds and I love cherries, and I adore them together.

These muffins taste sweet, rich and sinful like the cake did and incorporate the same combination of flavours, but replace butter with apple sauce, sugar with Splenda and/or stevia, eggs with egg whites, and white flour with kamut flour, oat flour and flax.

This is a large recipe, so you can easily half it, but I had lots of cherries on hand (I went crazy when I found them on sale for $2.99/lb this week!) and any extras can easily be frozen. Chock-full of deliciousness and nutrition, these are perfect for a holiday breakfast, brunch or snack.

1 cup oat flour (or oats ground in food processor)
2.5 cups kamut flour (other whole grain flour may work too)
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

2.5 cups apple sauce
4 egg whites
Splenda and/or stevia to equal 1.5 cups sugar (or use sugar)
2 tsp pure almond extract
1 cup milk (dairy or almond milk)

3 cups pitted fresh or frozen cherries, chopped (I pulsed them in food processor)

Optional: 1/4 cup each chopped almonds and/or dried cherries

Stir together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add dry ingredients and cherries into the wet and stir, just to combine. Scrape batter into greased muffin cups, top each with a sprinkling of chopped nuts and/or dried cherries if desired, and bake at 375F. I actually made mine into 6 mini loaves, which took 24 minutes, but if you use a regular 12 cup muffin tin, the baking time will be much less (recipe probably makes 20-24 muffins). Start with 12 minutes and then start checking for doneness (toothpick to come out clean). If you sprinkle the tops with nuts and/or cherries, check after 12 minutes, regardless of what size tins you use, and tent tops with foil to prevent toppings from burning.