Blueberry Almond Muffins

Blueberry almond muffin1 (500x287)

If you ask me what my favourite flavour of muffin is, I would say blueberry.   I also love ground almond in anything, so how could I say no to making these muffins?   They are very moist inside with a slightly crisp crunchy surface on the top, almost like the top of a brownie.   I found most of the blueberries sank to the bottom, but that really wasn’t a problem.    The only thing I would warn you about, is that they are very sweet.   If you don’t have a sweet tooth, maybe these aren’t for you.   On the other hand, if you love sweet things, you will love these, and anyway, I made them quite small, so you don’t need to feel guilty.  No, not at all, not really.

I found the recipe for the blueberry almond muffins on Jane’s Adventures in Dinner, which was my Secret Recipe Club Assignment for April.    I wasn’t surprised to read that Jane had actually worked as a chef in the past as she has so many delicious recipes on her blog and the photographs to go with the recipes are amazing too.   I could quite happily have a made all sorts of lovely dishes, but I just happened to be in a dessert mood.

Ingredients – Makes 18 small muffins

4 eggs

250g caster sugar

80ml olive oil

135g ground almonds

85g self-raising flour

200g blueberries (I used frozen)

How to Make Blueberry Almond Muffins

1. Put the eggs, oil and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until the contents turn pale.

2. Fold in the rest of the ingredients gently until just combined.

3. Spoon into the muffin cases.   Bake in the oven at 180C for 25 minutes.

4. Cool on a wire rack.

If you’d like to see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made, then click on the link below:

 

I am also linking these to Tasty Tuesdays, hosted by Honest Mum.

TastyTuesdays

Mastic Cake and a Baby

She’s finally arrived – Little Miss Spice was born on 22 April, weighing 7lbs 4 (3.3kg).  We’re now back at home and trying to get used to our new life which seems to be full of an endless cycle of washing, changing nappies, crying, feeding, sleeping and starting all over again so I’m not sure how much blogging is going to get done over the next few weeks (I have been writing this post for almost a week!).   But, she’s worth it, and absolutely gorgeous.

It’s hard to remember life before she arrived but a few weeks ago I was reading a post on Katrina’s blog, Culinary Flavours, about a Greek mastic flavoured pastry.   I’d never heard of mastic and so was delighted when Katrina very kindly offered to send me some.  It is a resin from the mastic tree and has an unusual pine/cedar type flavour.  Have a look at Katrina’s blog for more information about it.

Well, when I received the mastic I was in a cake baking mood and so I decided to make a mastic scented cake.  I researched flavours that go with mastic and came up with cardamom and decided to make a mastic and cardamom cake.   I was advised that mastic is a very strong flavour and can be an acquired taste and so to use very little to begin with.   I found a basic recipe and halved all the quantities to make a smaller cake and used less than the recommended amount of mastic too. I added cardamom hoping that it would balance out the mastic and go well with the ground almond, but in the end I couldn’t taste the cardamom as the mastic overpowered it. Overall, it was a lovely soft almondy cake but I couldn’t decide whether I liked the mastic or not.   It was different and interesting but part of me thought, I would rather just eat almond and cardamom cake as the mastic left a slight aftertaste.  Maybe I overdid it a little.   Next time I will add just a pinch of ground mastic and will up the cardamom. So, even though this was not a complete success, I’m pleased to have tried something new and especially grateful to Katrina for sending the mastic.

Ingredients

125g ground almonds

125g icing sugar

110g butter

2 eggs

75g self-raising flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

2g mastic(but would use much less next time)

1 tsp caster sugar

2 cardamom pods

How to Make Mastic and Cardamom Cake

1. Put the mastic, caster sugar and the seeds from 2 cardamom pods in a spice grinder.    Grind to a powder.   Put this powder in a large mixing bowl with the ground almonds, icing sugar and butter.    Cream together.

2. Add the egg and beat with a whisk.  Then add the self-raising flour and baking powder and whisk until everything is combined.

3. Put the mixture in a greased cake tin and bake in the oven at about 170C for 45 minutes.

Almond Macaroons

I know, these do look rather lurid.   I was aiming for a delicate pink and actually made them on Valentine’s Day.   However, the danger of not having used food colouring before, soon tripped me up.  The recipe stated to add a little and then add a little more to get the desired colour.   I thought a teaspoon full at the beginning was the same as a little, when in fact, a little drop off the end of the teaspoon would have been closer to the right amount.    So, if you can, imagine that these are not orange and not something you would serve at a Halloween party, but rather, something soft, delicate and romantic, something to share with your loved one.   Unless of course you are reading this in October, and then you can add as much food colouring as you like.

I came across this recipe in the Metro newspaper where it had been taken from Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook
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Despite the rather unromantic colour I would like to send these to Teatime Treats, a monthly tea party hosted by Kate and Karen.  The February theme is romance.  I am also linking them to Cookbook Sundays at Couscous and Consciousness and Sweet as Sugar Cookies for Sweets for a Saturday.

Ingredients – makes about 20 (10 when sandwiched together)

100g icing sugar

100g ground almonds

2 tbsp cold water

2 egg whites

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp or 1 drop of red food colouring, depending on the occasion

Filling

45g butter

75g icing sugar

Raspberry jam

How to Make Almond Macaroons

1. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl.  Add the ground almonds.

2. Put the caster sugar and water in a saucepan and bring it to the boil.   Let it boil for a couple of minutes without stirring and then let it cool a little.

3. Put one egg white in a bowl.  Whisk until it goes stiff and then, as you whisk, begin to slowly pour in the sugar syrup.  It should form a shiny meringue mixture.

4. Add the other egg white to the icing sugar and ground almonds along with the almond extract and food colouring .   Mix well till you get a paste.

5. Add a spoonful of meringue and mix into the almond mixture.   Then add the rest of the meringue and fold in until it is all combined.

6. Cover a baking tray with baking paper.    Either place spoonfuls of the mixture on the baking paper or use a piping bag and squeeze small rounds onto the paper.    Leave for an hour.

7. Put the baking trays into an oven at 150C.  After 25 minutes turn the heat off but leave the macaroons in the oven for an hour.

8. Take the macaroons out of the oven and peel off the baking paper and put on a wire rack to cool.

9. To make the filling, soften the butter and then cream the icing sugar into it.   Spread half the macaroons with the icing.  Then spread raspberry jam on top of the icing sugar and sandwich with another macaroon.

CookbookSundays