muffin of the month, january 2017: earl grey walnut muffins

previous monthly muffins

8/16, gluten-free blueberry buttermilk muffins || 6/16, blackberry almond muffins || 2/16, vegan ginger muffins 

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My first year in college, a friend of mine wanted to show me around Los Angeles, so we drove all over, exploring his favorite places (ie., his favorite date spots…) One of the places we visited, a place in which I would end up spending a significant amount of time over the next three years, was Little Tokyo. At this point I had been to Japan once, on a 2-week guided, structured tour, and was in the honeymoon phase of my infatuation with the Land of the Rising Sun.

We wandered around a Japanese grocery store in the little shopping village of Little Tokyo (Maru-something or other), where I found bags of powdered tea. This wasn’t green tea or matcha, mind you, but powdered Royal Milk Tea, one of my absolute favorite things from Japan (though technically it’s from England…and if we’re really splitting hairs, it’s originally from India.) I loved Royal Milk Tea. I still do, but due to developing lactose…problems…I can’t drink it unless I make my own non-dairy version (which I have done, and is almost as good as the dairy version.)

 

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This excursion was in April, just before final exams and summer vacation, so I grabbed a box of the powdered tea and brought it back to North Carolina. The first thing I did when I got home was make earl grey muffins. It was an inspired act, and a brilliant decision: they were heavenly. Possibly the best muffins I had ever had. I haven’t been able to find powdered milk tea since then, but I’ve experimented a bit with black tea pastries (black tea spiced apple pie, black tea butter cookies, and a failed attempt at an earl grey bundt cake.)

 

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The winter before last, December 2015, I dreamt up a recipe for black tea butter cookies, spicy shortbread discs with whole, loose earl grey tea leaves, perfect for balancing on the saucer of a cappuccino mug. After the November and December 2016 muffins, laden with chocolate and other delicious things, I wanted something light, something bordering on celestial.

Right on cue, in sauntered these muffins: earl grey nut muffins. Inspired by a long-ago memory of Royal Milk Tea and Royal Milk Tea muffins, and based on the black tea butter cookies, these muffins are subtly sweet, with the pleasant flavor and aroma of tea, none of the bitterness of caffeine, and an accompaniment of sweet, crunchy walnuts. As with most of my muffins, these are half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour.

 

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And they’re a perfect breakfast treat.

 

earl grey nut muffins

makes 1 dozen

 

150 g all-purpose flour

150 g whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

a hefty pinch of kosher salt

4 bags of black tea (8 grams of tea)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

180 g granulated sugar

180 g milk

1 tsp almond or walnut extract

2 large eggs (~50 grams each)

120 g canola oil

120 g chopped walnuts

 

Preheat oven to 350 F/190 C, and line a muffin pan with paper muffin liners.

In a small bowl, combine all-purpose and whole wheat flours, baking powder, salt, loose tea (cut open the tea bags with scissors), and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, milk, extract, eggs, and canola oil.

Dump dry ingredients into wet mixture and combine, then whisk in chopped nuts and mix until almost completely combined.

Using a large spoon or cookie scoop, scoop the batter into the muffin pan so each cup is 2/3 – 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until the muffin tops spring back when pressed lightly, or a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.

Remove the muffins from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove them from the pan and let them cool on a wire rack.

 

Cheerio and all that,

Nick P.

Categories: Breads, muffins