Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Hazelnut Praline Muffins

This recipe comes from a little book called the 'Muffin Bible', which I found recently in a charity shop. Some of my best books have been bought second hand in this way, and most of them look as if they have never been opened, let alone any of the recipes used. It's obviously where impulse buys after TV series, and Christmas presents, end up after a year or two!

Up to now, I haven't been that keen on muffin recipes, but I'm growing a little fonder of them now that I'm baking more with oil instead of butter - they are quick to mix and cook when other tasks, away from the kitchen, seem more pressing. The book turned out to be an Australian publication from Penguin, and the recipes, including several for savoury muffins, are written in a quirky mix of weights and volumes in the same recipe - half a cup of sugar, but 50g of chopped chocolate, for instance. This recipe for Hazelnut Praline Muffins is the first I've tried, although several more are bookmarked!

For this recipe I had to make praline, which was a first for me - the recipe called for boiling sugar and chopped nuts together, until the sugar was melted and golden brown. I could smell the nuts getting overheated long before the sugar showed signs of melting, so cautiously added a couple of tablespoons of water to slow the heating and start to dissolve the sugar prior to caramelising it. This seemed to work OK, although the proportion of nuts to sugar was so high it was difficult to see the colour of the liquid sugar. My guess at the endpoint worked for this praline, but I'm not sure it would have been right for making a caramel!

The muffins weren't much to look at, but they made up for this with the little pockets of praline, which gave bursts of nutty flavour and crunchy texture when eaten. The caramelised sugar really intensified the flavour of the hazelnuts. They didn't rise a lot, either, so I think it would have been better to make 10 larger muffins than try to squeeze 12 out of the batter.

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts - I used ready toasted nuts
1/2 cup sugar
80mls sunflower oil
150g caster sugar
1 egg
150mls milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
225g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
demerara sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Make a praline from the chopped nuts and first quantity of sugar - boil them gently together until golden brown, and allow to cool on greased foil. Break into pieces then crush into smaller pieces with a rolling pin.
Whisk the oil, second quantity of sugar, milk, egg and vanilla in a large bowl then add the flour, baking powder and praline and mix lightly until just combined.
Divide between 12 muffin cases, sprinkle with demerara sugar, if using, and bake at 190C for about 20 minutes.


Laura said...

Mmmmm I like praline, so praline in a muffin is even better! These look really tasty! :-)

Jean said...

I have this book - I bought it and its fellow "Cake Bible" very cheaply from a remainder bookshop not long ago. They are stuffed full of yummy looking recipes.......thanks for reminding me I have them. Time to explore I think !!