Monday, September 3, 2012

Pecan pie muffins

Because it's Monday but Labor day and you have the day off.... you should bake.

I love pecan pies. A pecan pie with coffee - that's what I call a treat on a tiring afternoon. However, making pecan pie...? The idea makes me want to plop back on my bed, because whenever I think about pie crusts, my first reaction is to think about something else. Pie crusts = lots of work. 

After a while, I figured out that I could combine elements of a pecan pie with a muffin - and also feel less guilty, as pecan pie contains amounts of butter and sugar that would probably horrify my mother. This isn't a very fluffy muffin - like the pie it aspires to become, it's a bit dense and chewy but in a good way. Nutty and caramely. Are you sold? 

Makes 6 medium to smallish muffins:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 chopped pecans
1/4 cup melted butter (about half a stick)
2 eggs
1/4 cup ricotta (not pictured - hey, do you think I can manage to take an ingredient photo this week without omitting something?)
for the topping: 1 tablespoon brown sugar + 2 tablespoons chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350F.

Chop the pecans to whatever size you like. Mix with the sugar and flour and set aside. 

Melt the butter (and let it cool!) and mix the ricotta, then add the eggs one by one, mixing well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix just barely enough to be rid of dry spots of flour. You don't want to over-mix; that would make the muffin stodgy. 

Line your muffin pan with paper cups, or baking spray, or smear with butter and dust with flour.  

I just wanted to show you my new muffin pan from Anthropologie! Heavy, cumbersome, impractical and expensive. Love at first sight. 

Spoon the batter into your pan. In a small bowl, mix the remaining two tablespoons of chopped pecans with the tablespoon of brown sugar. Spoon a bit of the mixture over each muffin, and bake in an oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden. My baking pan is ceramic so it took longer - perhaps 40 minutes for the bottoms to turn dark golden and the tops to start melting and caramelizing. Check your oven frequently!

It's kind of almost too rich for breakfast - I'd say this is a late afternoon snack dessert, after you've done something strenuous and deserve a treat. Serve warm or room temperature with milk tea or coffee. 

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