‘Nack. Nack.’ I could hear my toddler upstairs requesting a snack from ‘Dada.’ He brought her down to seat her in front of a plate of orange slices that had been abandoned earlier but might do now. Instead, she clung to his arm and repeated her request for, ‘a nack’ whilst pointing to the kitchen. She gestured to the tin of muffins on the counter and said decisively ‘a nack.’ We laughed, it’s only a snack if it comes from the ‘snack’ tin.
This time it was a toasted coconut & pear muffin that filled the role of ‘a nack’ and so I’ve named them Snack Muffins. And they do make an excellent snack.
The toasted coconut partnered with the sweet ripe pear in a rich cream batter made these muffins so very good. Every time I ate one I was surprised how good they were. Even two days after they were made, the first bite made me pause to enjoy the taste.
I love the homey, comforting feeling of eating a biscuit (or a muffin) straight from the oven. The taste of that warm, soft biscuit and the salty, melted butter just make me happy. But as I’ve been playing with adding different flours, herbs and seeds to my baked goods I’ve noticed that these flavors are often indistinguishable in those first warm mouthfuls. It’s not until I eat a cooled one that I can really taste what it’s made of. Why is that? Does the heat just over-load our taste buds?
Whatever the reason, this change in taste is something I keep in the back of my mind now when eating baked goods. So, as I munched one of these Snack Muffins warm, I was a little disappointed, but then I remembered that I should wait and taste one cooled, and then judge. And it turned out that cooled to room temperature these are amazing.
Adapted from the muffin recipe in the 1931 Joy of Cooking
makes 12 muffins
1 & 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs baking powder
1/4 C sugar
1 & 3/4 oz. butter (just under 4 Tbs)
1/2 C cream
1/4 C milk
1/2 C desiccated coconut
1 C diced pear (approx. 1 & 1/2 medium sized pears)
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F.
Peal and dice the pears. Pieces about the size of two large peas. Measure out a cup of pear pieces and set aside.
Place the coconut in a saucepan and toast it over a medium heat. Stir the coconut (or shake the pan) to prevent the coconut from burning. Nothing will appear to happen for the first few moments and then suddenly it will start to be golden and fragrant. When it is uniformly golden take it off the heat and place in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder & 1/4 C of the toasted coconut.
Melt the butter.
In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, cream & milk.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until just combined. Stir in the pears with as few strokes as possible.
Scoop batter into muffin pan. Filling each hole about half to two-thirds full. Sprinkle the tops with the extra toasted coconut.
Bake for approximately 14 minutes at 220C/425F. Until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from muffin pan and cool on a rack.