Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Apple Bacon Cheddar Nut Muffins

I am trying to get into fall, I really am- if only the weather would cooperate.  I'm ready for the transition to cooler weather, I am drooling to make a batch of this in my slippers, which partly inspired these muffins.  Who am I, though, to complain about a week stretch of nothing but sunny skies, daytime highs a degree or two near 80, but it's making it hard to think about my Halloween costume.  Which can't be taken lightly in this household- for some, it's a year-long activity.  Every five days or so, year round, there's an update to the next great idea or something else related to what would be a sweet Halloween costume.  Last year was pretty good, the year before that was no where near hilarious.  I'm running out of time and my bag of ideas has a hole in it.  Robert Smith of the Cure was probably my best work, a thousand years ago when I was 12 or 13.  Whose tapes I still listen to.  So as I continue to procrastinate and blame the nice weather as reason to think we're still in September, I give you these muffins. What was your favorite costume? Got any ideas for me?? Leave it in the comment!  I'm feeling some pressure here. 

An awesome, homemade gift idea for a baker is the gift of vanilla beans and alcohol, after sitting for 12 months in a cool, dark spot.  It's dead simple- put 4 good quality vanilla beans, split lengthwise, in a small, airtight jar...some cruets are good size, there will be solid choices at any container store.  Add about 1.5 C pure ethanol or some good vodka to the jar, and wait.  You will then have some kick ass homemade vanilla extract. 

You know what's a pain in the ass? Muffin tins.  They stick together all the time, the colors might clash with my food, it's just a nightmare.  Here's a better idea- after you fry the bacon, soak up some of the fat with paper towel, as you probably would anyway as standard operating procedure to clean the best instrument ever for frying bacon- a cast-iron skillet, which of course is never washed with soap, rarely with water, always wiped clean with fat, cleaning the skillet and providing a seasoned grease layer to keep the oxidizing air off your metal.  A wipe down every month or so with vegetable oil also helps, during a stretch of non-use.  Use the paper towel to deliciously grease the muffin pan. 

These muffins have a fantastic play between sweet and savory- the sugar and the fruit combines with some old friends in bacon, cheddar cheese, green onions and walnuts.

Apple Bacon Cheddar Nut Muffins

2 C AP flour
2 ts baking powder
1/2 ts kosher salt
3/4 C sugar
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 ts vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 C diced apple
1/2 C walnut pieces
2 TB green onion
1/2 C shredded sharp or extra-sharp cheddar
1/2 C buttermilk
freshly cracked black pepper
4 pieces bacon, crumbled

Oven to three five zero, rack is middle. 

Mix the flour, powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Add to a large bowl the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract.  Whisk to combine, then add the two eggs and whisk for thirty seconds.  Add the cheese, apple, walnut, pepper, green onion, and buttermilk to this mixture.  Stir that up until mixed, then add the flour mixture.  Stir with a spoon (half stir, half fold, really) until the flour is incorporated- don't beat the hell out of it or you'll have some tough muffins.

Pour evenly into a greased normal-size muffin pan, the 12 piece.  Top with some of the reserved bacon bits.  Park in the middle of the oven, things will be golden and delicious after about 22-25 minutes.  Does your toothpick come back clean upon insertion?  Turn out onto rack (which is on a cookie sheet to collect crumbs which will be eaten) and let rest at least ten minutes.  Enjoy now or save for the next day, freeze if you want to save any longer than that.  


Serve with any meal you'd like day or night. 

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