Monday, May 14, 2007

Extreme Gingerbread Muffin Makeover

There are few sweets of my predominantly German-American heritage that give me more of a feeling of contentment and coziness than gingerbread. I am the first one to dismantle the Bahlsen’s lebkuchen display at the grocery store after it’s been set up for the Christmas season. I am also the first one to make the supreme sacrifice of volunteering to polish off that last piece of treacle-stuck Yorkshire parkin. Europe, particularly Germany and England, have a long, convoluted, folkloric history with ginger as far back as the Middle Ages. Even if you are unfamiliar with the cooking in these countries, you may know a gingerbread man when you see one. For those who are very familiar, the gingerbread house in the very grim Grimm Brothers fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel,” will ring a heartfelt, if not macabre, bell.

Firing up the oven was the furthest thing from my mind as New York moves closer to summer’s heat, but I am reminded that not everyone on our planet is enjoying the same soft spring weather as we are at exactly the same time. Gingerbread is all about the fall, when leaves color and crisp, and a gratin can be found bubbling and browned. It is all about the warmth, too, and the warmth will be always welcome in my home, any time of the year.

Extreme Gingerbread Mini Muffins - Inspired by The Ginger People

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (yes, black pepper*)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup molasses
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup crystallized ginger slices, minced and
1/2 cup crystallized ginger slices, minced for garnish

Icing

Ingredients

3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk

Crystallized ginger.

Method

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly with a wire whisk. In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients, beating with a wire whisk. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients, beating until just mixed. Add 1/2 cup minced ginger and stir briefly. [If ginger is too tough and hard to cut, boil it in water for 10 minutes.]

Fill greased or paper-lined mini muffin pans 3/4 full. Bake for 10-12 minutes on center rack of oven or when toothpick inserted comes out clean. After 10 minutes, remove muffins from pans. In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar and milk until sugar is fully dissolved and icing in smooth. Arrange muffins on a grid over a large pan to catch drips. Pour 1/2 teaspoon icing over each muffin, then top icing with a few bits of minced ginger. Icing with harden within 15 minutes.


Make 24 mini muffins. --

* Black pepper is also used in pfeffernüsse (peppernuts) another famed German spice cookie. This will enhance the spiciness overall, but will not be uncomfortably hot.


This post is being submitted to Gourmet of un tocco di Zenzero, who is hosting Muffin Monday 03 - Spicy! for Elena Ho of Experiments, the creator of the Muffin Monday food blogging event.

26 comments:

  1. Ginger, pepper and cinnamon. A perfectly-balanced combination of spices, though the use pepper intrigues me. Sucker for ginger that I am (written, oddly enough, whilst sipping ginger tea) I have everything right there in the pantry to make these, right now.

    Can't wait...

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  2. Susan - Yours just has to be my favourite new blog. You have written on recipes including two of my favorite foodstuffs, beetroot and ginger, in sucessive posts. I, too, love The Ginger People, from whom I acquired stem ginger in syrup to make Nigel Slater's unimpeachable Double Ginger Cake. Fortunately for me, Autumn has well descended on Auckland, and there is nothing like a gingery aroma emanating from the oven on the blackest of cold early mornings. I love the fluid and engaging qualities of your writing, too, by the way.

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  3. I adore how german cooking has a lot of spicy things in their sweets (does that make sense?), particularly the black pepper. And I also adore gingercake and gingerbread. It really is a comforting smell and flavour. Thanks for sharing this!

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  4. Lucy - This recipe works up especially quickly - no delayed gratification here. Unless you have a particularly sensitive palate, you should not taste the pepper as such. It is such a different flavor than chili powder. In addition, the molasses is so deeply powerful, it mellows any sharp tendencies. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

    Shaun - You are such a dear. Thank you. I'd run out of the stem ginger and "made due" with the crystallized - no complaints. I've only over recent years come to appreciate warm weather, so I fully understand your love of colder climes. I'm glad you are enjoying your visits here. I do it to please others as well as myself.

    Freya and Paul - Yes, that does make sense. Taking it further still, Germans love their sauerbraten (pickled pot roast) with gravy made of gingersnaps. Certain spices just click with sugar. It's probably my early intro to ginger that's lead me to the rousing cuisines of India, Morocco and Ethiopia.

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  5. Susan, these muffins look so delicious -

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  6. Hi Susan,

    Wow, those gingerbreads look delectible! I love ginger so much! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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  7. Hi, Patricia. Welcome! They are even better the second day. The flavors really developed, and the texture is nice and dense. Glad you came to visit.

    Hi, Jenn. It was good to find you. Welcome! Even people who aren't fond of spices seem to have a place in their hearts for ginger.

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  8. Now here's a muffin that I can become addicted to. I l-o-v-e ginger. Will definitely give this a try. Good going Susan!

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  9. Oh gosh, I just *love* gingerbread - it's my favorite part of November and December but there's no way I'm waiting 5 months to whip up a batch of these muffins... I'm thinking of taking a "baking day" off work next week to knock out a handful of recipes :)

    And great blog - just discovered you!

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  10. Great flavor for a mini muffin! These look so wonderful brown and moist. How nice in a little basket and a cup of tea to go with them.

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  11. I adore gingerbread. Even when I make it from a box mix (which, I confess, I do sometimes), I bump it up with added powdered ginger and chopped crystallized ginger. It's good any time of year!

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  12. Thanks, Cynthia. Making them mini gives them a nice overall texture. Sometimes a regular-sized muffin can be so leaden that you only want to eat the top. I also cut back a little on the oil. Yes, they are quite addictive. : )

    Welcome, Shawnda. I heartily encourage everyone to take a work day off for baking. This is a quick recipe. I hope you can "work" it into your baking day. Nice to have you visit here. Thanks!

    Tanna - Though I'm a heavy coffee drinker, I think a good cup of tea is just the ticket for these. A basket will only add to their charm. Thanks!

    Lydia - Good to see you getting back into the swing. There are a handful of boxed cakes that provide good results. It would be hard for Duncan Hines to wreck bran muffins or gingerbread. Still, a little home doctoring doesn't hurt.

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  13. Susan, I never finished writing my comment (my boss is the one to blame).

    After the "-" I meant to write: "what a fabulous blog you have!"

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  14. That's very sweet of you, Patricia. Those bosses - they really can get in the way sometimes. ; ) Thanks for returning to finish your sentence!

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  15. Susan.

    Everyone is ringing me for the recipe.

    Even those who make gingerbread for a living! Thank you. These are moreish and warming with just the right amount of spice.

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  16. Hi, Lucy. This is praise, indeed. Though my decidedly non-commercial kitchen and zoning forbid it, I've always liked the idea of baking professionally. Thanks for passing on the kudos. I'm glad the recipe's a hit.

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  17. ooohhh... that looks like a yummy, low fat gingerbread. ginger junkie here. will try it soon.

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  18. Hi, Bee - Yes, it's fairly low fat. I passed on the original 1/2 cup butter. No harm done. It made them less moist as the days went on, but they're still good for dunking.

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  19. Hi Susan - great blog! And I love the idea of these muffins - especially the allusion to pfeffernusse which I love but have never made myself.

    I am not in a muffin baking mood right now but I did pilfer some ideas from these muffins for a cake I made yesterday - thanks!

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  20. Welcome, Johanna. Please feel free to pick apart my recipes for your greater good. Thanks for visiting!

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  21. These muffins look fabulous, and having a little German-American heritage myself, I think I could pull them off ;)

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  22. Welcome, Sognatrice! I am sure you can pull these muffins off. ;) I think you will enjoy them. It's good to see you here.

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  23. Thanks susan!!! I love GINGER!!! And your muffin looks very very yummyyyy!
    Sandra

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  24. This does sound delicious. What a great combination of colors and flavors. Ginger breads looks so beautiful! yummy!

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