After I moved into my new home last year, my friend gifted me with a box of last Harry & David Royal Riveria Pears. I used the very last one to make these muffins and took them with me on a bus trip up to New York City, where I attended the Coffee & Tea Festival with her.
These muffins are extremely straightforward to put together. Unlike some recipes, they do require creaming together butter and sugar, but even with that step, the batter comes together in about 6 minutes. Buttermilk keeps the crumb moist and helps to offset the earthy flavors. To further balance the cardamom, which can be strong, especially if you grind it straight from the pod, I added just a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.
The muffins are light and tender of crumb and a bite that marries the pear with cardamom has a sweet, fruity, lightly spiced flavor. They make a great breakfast that won’t send you crashing from a sugar high, and pair nicely with green tea.
For January’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired up with Bobbi from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen. It was hard to pick a recipe, which is a good sign! I tend to lean towards savory recipes for Secret Recipe Club since I bake and post sweet recipes more frequently. Bobbi’s Chicken Biryani was the perfect solution — a one pot meal that satisfied my craving for Indian food. You can customize the amount of spices to your own liking (I added extra cardamom and heat).
Hop on over to Bobbi’s site and read her inspirational story (overcoming breast cancer and gastric bypass) as well as perusing her recipe stash, including: Boozy Hot Chocolate, Pumpkin Spice Cake, White Chicken Chili, Pumpkin Mac n Cheese, Fudgy Chocolate Caramel Brownies.
For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired up with K&K Test Kitchen. One of my favorite things about the site is the design since the colors are so well coordinated and it is appealing to the eye. I am a web designer by day, so thats one of the first things I noticed.
This was another month where it was hard to choose just what recipe to make. I changed up my tactic this time and asked my fiancé to pick a recipe after I whittled it down to Healthy Spinach Dip, Artichoke Dip, Pistachio Marmalade Cake, or Cashew Chicken. Even though he picked spinach dip, I ended up making the cake. Next time I swear I’ll let him really choose!
I figured this would be a great opportunity to use some of my various jams in the refrigerator, as well as my cute gingham mini bundt cake liners from World Market. I did adapt this recipe to use what I had on hand, and it turned out no worse for it.
I had a lovely Japanese Quince jam gifted to me by my friend Stephanie that was just itching to be used in this. I have a problem when I get things that tast good. I actually don’t eat them. They’re so precious to me I always save them for later, but then they end up getting thrown away! I wasn’t going to let that happen to this jam, so I whipped 2 mini cakes up and sent her one as part of a care package.
You can substitute the cider for any juice (orange juice is the original). I also substituted the cornmeal with almond meal, and replaced the orange marmalade with quince jam. I also mixed the pistachios with some chai sugar I picked up at Mitsuwa on a recent trip to New York to echo the cardamom in the mix.
The texture of the cake was a bit crumbly and the bottom was a little overdone (the middle wouldn’t cook all the way). I don’t think this is due to the substitutions since this same issue was noted on K&K Test Kitchen. In the future, I would recommend bumping the cooking temperature to 325 so that none of it overcooks.
Since the cake itself that was not adjacent to the topping was a bit bland, I would definitely add more jam next time so that the flavor is more pronounced.
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Have you ever tried rhubarb? I’ve met many people who had never tried it, and of those that have tasted it, it seems people have a love/hate relationship with it. If I had to describe rhubarb, I’d have to say it’s as if strawberry and celery had a child. It goes well in baked recipes paired with sweet berries, or in this case, zingy ginger.
This week at my office we’re having a bake sale and holding raffles for Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®, ending with attendance at the race in DC. I’m thinking I might take a risk and make these rhubarb crumble bars. They’re pink and festive for breast cancer awareness, but will anyone buy them? Or maybe I’m secretly hoping no one buys them so I can eat them all.
You can use this recipe as a base and swap out any fruit you like. I prefer it with a touch of cardamom in the crumb topping, but you can swap it out with a different spice or omit it altogether. Pink peppercorn would go nicely and be extra-festive.