Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Nov 15, 2011

Spiced Pear Muffins with Brandy

When the Lush Chef is feeling down, she doesn't drink— she bakes.  Yes, that's right.  Drinking in the morning or early afternoon by yourself is not a healthy way to make yourself feel better, kids.  If you're doing that, you may need some therapy or AA.  But baking and sharing your culinary results can put a smile on someone's face or fill your own tummy, and that's a good thing.

So I baked muffins this past weekend so I could share them with my co-workers on a brisk fall morning.  I had tons of over-ripe pears that I needed to use up and this recipe for Spiced Pear Muffins from The Kitchn had been calling me for a couple of weeks.

Being the Lush Chef that I am, of course I found a way to incorporate some libations.  One of my favorite muffins that my mom made for me as a child were "Surprise Muffins," which were just a basic muffin but filled with different jams in the middle.  I did a twist on the surprise by mashing up some pears with a little sugar and brandy to make a chunky pair sauce and layered that in.  While you can't see it very well because of the color of the muffins and baked pears, you do get a an extra burst of pear when you bite into them.  I topped the muffins with a little turbinado sugar and cinnamon, but feel free to experiment with candied ginger, chopped walnuts or extra dashes of nutmeg on top.  And man, smelling these bake in the oven quickly put a smile on my face— so comforting and reminded me of home.

Spiced Pear Muffins with Brandy - serves 12
Ingredients for the muffins:
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 medium-sized pears, unpeeled and diced small
  • cinnamon & turbinado sugar for topping
Ingredients for the pear brandy sauce:
  • 2 small pears, peeled and diced small
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp brandy

To make the muffins:
- Heat your oven to 425 and place muffin cups in wells of pan.
- Using a mixer on high speed, cream the white and brown sugars and butter for about 1 minute, or until it resembles fluffy frosting.
- Mix in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
- Mix in the vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, spices and salt.
- With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/3 of the milk.
- Continue alternating between the flour mixture and milk, mixing until the flour is fully incorporated.  Don't over mix!
- Scrape any remaining flour from the sides of the bowl and stir gently to incorporate.
- Add the pears and fold into the mixture.

To make the pear sauce:
- Add the diced pears, sugar and brandy to a small bowl and mash those suckers with a potato masher until it resembles a slightly chunky applesauce.  It's a great way to release any kind of aggression you may be feeling that day, and you're done!

- Fill the muffin cups about halfway with batter.
- Spoon about a tsp of pear sauce on top of the batter.
- Use the remaining batter to top off and make sure the pear sauce is completely covered.
- Sprinkle some turbinado sugar and cinnamon on top.
- Place the muffin pan in the oven and turn the heat down to 400.
- Bake for 10 minutes and then rotate the pan.
- Bake for another 10-15 minutes until muffins are done— that toothpick should come out clean, and the top will look cracked and toasted.


lynn said...

boozy breakfast! yum.