I wanted to bake something for guests, and I had a few Granny Smith apples in the refrigerator. I almost always have a few apples. They are a great meal with some cheese and wine and so I try to keep some on hand. They also pair well with sausage for dinner or breakfast.
I recently bought a large bag of black walnuts. My Aunt Suzy raves about them, so I decided to try them. They came in smaller pieces that the other walnuts and they have any earthier flavor. I liked them, but I don't know that I would eat a handful. I decided to use them with the apples and make some muffins. I also decided to use other spices in addition to cinnamon to make a more flavorful muffin.
Apple Walnut Spice Muffins
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ginger, cloves and nutmeg optional, use what you have
1/8 teaspoon allspice, and cardamom optional, use what you have
1 to 1 1/2 cups peeled and shredded tart apples. I used 2 Granny Smith
3/4 cups chopped walnuts I used black walnuts
My spice cabinet is (mostly) alphabetized and brimming with spices, so I chose to use a bunch of them. If you don't use a lot of spices, don't go buying a scads of them that will just go to waste. Use cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and be done with it. Maybe increase the cinnamon to 2 1/2 teaspoons. The cloves and allspice add a really nice flavor and I just bought a big bottle of cardamom, so I used them all.
I got some silicone muffin baker things and never used them. Damn that whole dieting thing anyway. That was one of the reasons to invite peeps over and make muffins. Gotta try the darn things out. And I have to say, getting the muffins out and cleaning them was a snap. Highly recommended!
Spray whatever you are using with Pam,. Yes, even the silicone thingies. Set aside. Heat the oven to 375°.
If you have a stand mixer, this is where they really shine. I set up my Kitchen Aid mixer and placed the softened butter in and let it rip. I like to beat the butter until it is very light in color and super creamy. This takes about 4 minutes, including the time I stop the mixer and scrape everything down. Twice. I use this time to get the dry ingredients ready.
Place the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and whatever spices you decided on in a bowl. Stir until well mixed and set aside.
By this time you should be able to add the sugars to the mixer. And mix some more. Add the eggs, sour cream, milk and vanilla and mix.
Stop the mixer and add in half the flour mixture. Mix slowly to combine and then put the last of the flour in the mixer and mix just until the flour is incorporated. Remove the mixing bowl and peel and shred the apples. Doing this last will keep them from turning brown.
Fold the apples and walnuts into the flour mixture.
A large ice cream scoop is just the right size to scoop out the perfect amount to fill the muffin cups. So do that.
I placed the silicone baker on a cookie sheet for stability. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in to the middle of one of the muffins in the center of the baking thing ( I can't call it a pan, no metal, so what IS it called??) comes out clean. Let cool and remove from the THINGY to a cooling rack. They come out easily when you push up a bit on the bottom of the cup.
They were delicious and the extra spices were wonderful along with the earthiness of the black walnuts and the tang of the apples and sour cream. I had some of my muffin with butter and some without. It was delightful both ways. And equally delightful when paired with a salad for dinner the next night, too!