Ripe autumn pears dance beautifully with spicy ginger!
We had a lovely brunch with friends Suzy and Bob last week at the peak of Vermont’s fabulous foliage color. It was an autumn celebration of some of the best of the season: a frittata featuring native squash, beans, and corn. Roasted potatoes, of course. A few other frills, and apple crisp for dessert.
These kind and wonderful friends brought me a beautiful gift, a ceramic muffin pan in a lovely design, suitable for serving! So pretty, I was delighted to discover the pan, from the company Temp-tations, in addition to being beautiful, it is oven (to 500 degrees), dishwasher, and microwave safe! A modern beauty.
Of course, I had to put it to use and decided on our fall favorite muffins using the fruit at its best and our local ginger. They look like a humble old-fashioned muffin, but are packed with fruit and ginger flavor. My grandson asked me if any muffin could be as good!
A quick prep
I chopped the pears roughly into ¼- to ½-inch dice, and did not peel them. The pears keep the muffins really moist. Grate the ginger, skin and all! Chopping the crystalized ginger was challenging as it sticks to the knife! After a few initial chops, I added a pinch more sugar and that helped. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, use any dairy or plant milk (I used oat milk) acidified with a half teaspoon of vinegar.
You can slip in a little nutrition, but they are still a treat!
I originally used my friend Carol’s recipe for apple muffins, substituting pears and swapping out the spices. This time around, I made them with half whole wheat flour and half white, but I’ve also made them with 100% whole gain. A modest muffin at 200 calories, they are not the dinner plate variety one often sees that could feed a family, and they are not overly sweet! You can also lower the sugar to 1/3 cup each white and brown.
So pour yourself a cup of tea and enjoy this perfect afternoon snack –– moist, with the pear flavor coming through strong, and a definite zing from the ginger. And the best part? For myself, every time I use the pan, I’ll think of Suzy and Bob as they head for their warmer winter nest.
Pear and Ginger Muffins
- 2 cups chopped ripe pears
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 cup unbleached white flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1-inch knob of ginger, finely grated
- 1/3 cup crystalized ginger, fine chop
- 1 stick butter or vegan butter, softened
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ cup buttermilk or other acidified milk of choice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour muffin cups. You can also line with papers.
Chop the pears and add the lemon juice. Set aside.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, soda, salt, ginger, and cinnamon. Add the fresh and crystalized gingers and mix up to coat well. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugars until light. Add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula, add half the dry ingredients, the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Do not over mix. Gently fold in the pears.
Fill the cups with an ice cream scoop. You should be able to make a dozen.
Bake for 20 minutes, turn the pan, and bake for another five or 10, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops are browned. Let cool, and enjoy.
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