Sunday, April 28, 2013

Carrot Raisin Muffins

Don't these muffins look yummy?  My absolute favorite muffins to make on weekend mornings are these banana muffins that my kids just love.  But, I don't always have two or three overripe bananas in the house, so I've been looking for another easy but delicious muffin recipe that uses ingredients I pretty much always have on hand.  So, I found the recipe for these Carrot Raisin Muffins in a quick-cooking type magazine, but for one reason or another, it took me awhile to try the recipe out.  I'm so glad I did, because these are wonderful, and the fact that they have carrots in them makes me feel the tiniest bit virtuous (I like to pretend that the carrot goodness doesn't get cancelled out by the sugar badness).

Carrot Raisin Muffins (makes about 16 muffins)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder (yep, that's one TABLESPOON)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 large egg
1 cup milk (can be whole, lowfat, or skim, it doesn't matter)
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup grated carrots
1/3 cup golden raisins (I used currants, see note below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a muffin pan with paper baking cups.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl.  In another bowl, combine the egg, milk and melted butter, and beat well.  Add in the grated carrots and raisins, and stir.  Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and stir until just barely combined (a few lumps are fine -- don't overmix).  Scoop the batter into the muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 to 3/4 full..  I use an ice-cream type scoop for this task because it helps me keep each muffin the same size, but you can use a big spoon, as well.  Pop the muffin pans into the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.  It's best if you turn the muffin pans once during the baking time, especially if your oven tends to have "hot spots."  When done, remove the muffins from the pan immediately and allow to cool a bit before eating.

Note:  This recipe calls for golden raisins (you could use regular dark raisins, too), but I like to use currants, and that's what I used for these pictures.  Currants taste very similar to raisins, but they are super tiny (and cute!).  Because they are small, they lend themselves well to muffins.  Each muffin with have a good number of the tiny currants.  You'll usually find currants in a small box near the raisins in your grocery store, but be warned, they are definitely more expensive than regular raisins.
This is what your dry ingredients and wet ingredients will look like before you combine them.  If you want, you can put the carrots and raisins in with the dry ingredients instead of the wet, but I like to do it this way because it helps ensure that the raisins or currants are nice and moist.
Here are the filled muffin tins, ready to be popped into the oven.  I got 15 muffins from this recipe, but you may get one or two less or more.  I don't recommend just filling the muffin cups to the top to use the extra batter, because muffins just don't work that way.
Here are the muffins, fresh from the oven.  I always lay them on their sides to cool for a bit, because it helps the bottoms not get soggy.  That's the same reason you need to take them out of the muffin pan right away -- if the baked muffins sit in the hot pan, the bottoms can get sort of "wet" and they don't taste as good.  Cooling the muffins for a few minutes makes peeling the papers off MUCH easier.
And here is a finished muffin, happily awaiting a spread of butter.  I hope you have a chance to try this recipe and tell me what you think!  By the way, these are good the next day, too.  The secret to keeping muffins a day or two is to cover them, but not tightly.  For instance, put them into a flat plastic storage container, but leave the lid ajar.  If you do this, the tops of the muffins won't get all wet and icky the next day.  Muffins are super moist so you need to vent the lid of your storage container a little bit to make sure that all of that moisture doesn't collect inside the container.