Saturday, 6 March 2010
I was reading the wonderful blog Smitten Kitchen where Deb was talking about muffins and the words "while not savory, it’s not sweet either" caught my eye. Of course, the fact that in the sentence before she was internally jumping for joy at the awesomeness of these muffins was also a factor, but I loved the whole not really sweet, not really savoury concept.
I've never been one for traditionally accepted breakfast foods like cereal and I can eat dessert for breakfast, but I do try to stick to eating things that I won't be embarrassed to admit to should someone ever ask what I ate for breakfast that day.
These muffins have a gentle, subtle aniseed flavour coming from some toasted, crushed fennel seeds and a nice surprise on the inside - a mix of ricotta and crème fraîche. The batter before baking was quite sweet and the fennel was a lovely counterpoint, but once cooked the sweetness has all but disappeared. They are dense but not in a doughy way, just in a substantial, will get you through til lunchtime way. I love the toasted pecans on top, I toasted more than the recipe called for but then ate too many while prepping the rest of the recipe and ended up running out of topping for my second tray of muffins. No matter, D doesn't like the topping but enjoyed the rest of the muffin, so he can eat the second tray.
Deb said that she found her ricotta/sour cream mix to be quite runny which made it difficult to cover with the rest of the muffin mix, which is very thick. I used fresh ricotta from the Italian deli and some stiff crème fraîche so mine held its shape easily and I found that it made it much easier to manipulate when piping the muffin mix on top. I dropped teaspoon sized balls into the muffin tins but in that shape they were too high for the muffin tins, so I used my fingers to spread the filling out a bit and then covered it with more piped muffin mix and then spread that out. In hindsight, I should have used a smaller tip as then I could have had the filling lower in the muffin tin and wouldn't have had the too-high problem.
They are very very good and the toasted fennel flavour leaves a lovely aftertaste. Can't wait for breakfast tomorrow!!
See Deb's post Ricotta Muffins on Smitten Kitchen for the recipe.