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Monday, March 28, 2011

Microwave Pumpernickel Muffins

These are not too bad.  What a ringing endorsement, huh?  Haha!  But did anyone else try those microwave cake kits in approximately 1987?  Blark.  These muffins do not suffer from the same ills I recall from microwave baking 20+ years ago.  Microwaves are famous for not browning food, but these delicious whole grain muffins don't need extra browning.  The microwave leaves the muffins extra tender and of course, it's unbelievably fast, kid-friendly baking without heating up your house.  I also experimented with freezing the uncooked batter and baking single muffins from their frozen state...results are a little ugly, but still tasty.  I think these may enter the lineup of quick ready-made breakfast/snack options.

This is a recipe I dredged up out of a 1980's era cookbook, but unfortunately I don't have the citation.  The only adaptations I've made are to use what I routinely keep in my pantry/freezer and to make the whole process a little less fussy. 

I was a bit short on my 3 oz. of cream cheese when I tested these on account of a certain Little Dude liberating some of the product and giving himself a little moisturizing cream cheese facial in the middle of Meijer, but I think it turned out okay.  I think using a teaspoonful of prepared flavored cream cheese would be on point here, too--the muffins are not so insistently pumpernickel-y that a sweet fruity cream cheese would be out of place, but they are savory enough to support a garlic-and-herb type of filling as well. 

Whole Grain Pumpernickel Muffins
Makes 12

1 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
2 tbsp molasses
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp citrus zest

Whisk milk, oil, egg, and molasses together in a medium bowl.  Combine flours, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt in another medium bowl.  Mash cream cheese and citrus zest together, and divide into 12 portions (or use 12 teaspoonfuls of prepared flavored cream cheese). 

Prep-ahead Option #1: Put everything in the fridge now and leave until you're ready to bake (up to 1 day)

Partially filled muffins
 Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in.  Mix gently until batter is combined, but do not beat the snot out of it.  Put 2 cupcake liners in each of 12 microwave-safe cups (I used 6 oz. Pyrex custard cups, but those silicone cupcake cups would work great here). 

If you're planning to freeze the batter, you can put them in a metal cupcake pan.  Spoon batter into cups, filling about 1/4 of the way up.  Place 1 portion of cream cheese into each cup, and fill 3/4 full with remaining batter. 

Prep-ahead Option #2: Freeze the muffins now.

To bake fresh, bake 6 muffins at a time for 2 1/2 minutes.  They will still look slightly wet on top, but will firm up as they cool.  If they seem really underdone, continue cooking 15 seconds at a time. 

To bake from frozen, put 1 muffin in a custard cup or silicone cupcake cup.  Thaw 1 muffin at a time for 30 seconds on 50% power.  Immediately cook for 30 seconds on full power.  The muffin may be sunken a bit in the middle and look slightly wet on top.  If they seem really underdone, continue cooking 15 seconds at a time.  Like I said, they're ugly but still yummy. 
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