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Friday, December 14, 2012

Pear Muffins

Pears are available year-round, but fall really is pear season.  My favorite way to eat pears is actually a no-recipe dish...a fully, juicy, tender ripe pear sliced thinly with thin slices of Havarti cheese.  I'll eat that for breakfast, dessert, snack, you name it. 

Pears are a valuable addition to one's diet for reasons other than their deliciousness though. 

WARNING: things are about to get a little gross

Pears contain sorbitol which is a natural osmotic laxative (the type of laxative that "just makes it easier to go", as the commercials say).  So do prunes and plums, but I know a lot of folks are anti-prune even though you shouldn't be...but that's another post.

If you're thinking about prepping some snacks and meals ahead in preparation for having a baby, pears should be on your list somehow.  If you've just ejected another human being from your body, whether via the baby chute or through the "sunroof", chances are there's gonna be some issues in the osmotic laxative department (personal experience speaking here).  If you're helping someone who is laid up after a surgery or long illness, chance are they're having some issues in the osmotic laxative department.  If you're caring for an elderly person, chances are...well, you get it.  Medication (particularly pain medication), surgeries, inactivity due to injury or bed rest, dehydration from illness, normal aging all tend to cause constipation, and pears will help.

OK, enough poop talk.  Pears are good for what ails you.

I've frozen batches of these muffins before just as is.  They are gooood, but get a little soggy on top in the freezer.  I've played with different ways to freezer-fortify them, and what I've come up with is a good solution I think that can be applied to any type of muffin.  A streusel topping that incorporates nuts or coconut will stand up to the freezer pretty well.  The nuts/coconut doesn't lose crunch and keeps the otherwise-soggy muffin tops covered up.

You can always make the batter and freeze it for later baking which totally side-steps the freezer-sog problem, but it does require back-end time to bake.  If you freeze before baking, spoon the batter into paper cupcake liners in a muffin pan.  Freeze the whole pan, then remove the filled liners to a ziptop bag for storage.  To thaw, put the liner-cups in the muffin pan while still frozen and let thaw in the fridge or at room temp.

Pear Muffins
Makes 18 muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar (white or brown)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
3/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
2 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp oil or melted butter
1 large pear, finely chopped

Streusel topping:
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp sugar (white or brown)
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts or flaked coconut

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Whisk together wet ingredients and incorporate gently into dry ingredients.  Overmixing makes tough muffins!  Stir in chopped pear.

To make streusel, mix together flour and sugar and use a fork to cut in butter until the mixture is coarse crumbs.  Stir in nuts or coconut.

Spoon batter into greased muffin cups (even if I use paper liners, I still give them a spritz of cooking spray).   and sprinkle with streusel.  Freeze now if desired (in paper liners).  Bake 15-18 muffins at 400F.

Bonus pear recipe...

Pear Yogurt Smoothie
Makes 2 servings

1 pear, cored
2 plums, pitted (or 3-4 prunes plus 1/4 cup prune or apple juice)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp sugar (optional)
4-5 ice cubes, crushed

Crush the ice in the blender first.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.  (To prep-ahead, blend the pear, plums, yogurt and sugar and fridge or freeze...blend with ice cubes to serve.) Pin It

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