Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gluten-Free Pear Chocolate Muffins with Maple or Chocolate Mascarpone Icing

Gluten Free Pear Chocolate Muffins with Maple or Chocolate Mascarpone Icing
So I know this post was supposed to be about peanuts and squirrels and life and was actually meant to go up on Valentine's Day, but stuff happens (like a broken in two places toe), so it will be the next post. Instead, I have to tell you about some gluten-free chocolate muffins I made a while back; I meant to post these before now because I wanted Béa of La Tartine Gourmande to see what she'd started in this house, and the Monthly Mingle deadline is today too so bombs away.

Before I say anything else, let me state a couple of things: 1) No I'm not turning into a gluten-free baker, if there's anything I love in life besides my family, it's gluten; I just haven't posted many gluten-free recipes here but 2) I do have gluten-intolerant friends and friends with food allergies (this is for you Chlōe) so I do like to keep some recipes on hand to bake for them when I need to, plus if the flavor and texture you're trying to recreate is not incredibly complex, it's not difficult to substitute in gluten-free flours without noticing the difference.
Gluten Free Pear Chocolate Muffins
Anyway, we're constantly in boxes here, packing, unpacking, packing, unpacking; so if you can believe it, I found a 1Kg bar of Varhona chocolate in one of the boxes a few weeks ago which I had purchased at La Grande Epicerie in Paris back when I was pregnant, and though it hadn't actually gotten old even though the use by date was October 2009, I felt I owed it to our bellies and general well-being to use it as quickly as possible; also, it's cold which everyone knows is perfect chocolate weather. You will be seeing more results of this massive chocolate usage in forthcoming posts, but let's stick to the muffins for now.

Although I could have, say, with a cake like this one, I didn't want to use a huge amount of the bar for only one recipe. Really, I wanted to faire durer le plaisir as we say in French, which means to make the pleasure last (somehow in its Gallic form it's a little more expressive of that wish), so I went hunting for chocolate-loaded (but not too much) recipes and remembered that Béa had written a post about chocolate muffins not long before and that there was another chocolate muffin recipe lurking somewhere in her archives. The older muffin recipe, having melted chocolate rather than cocoa in it, won out.
And oooh, how it won out, let me tell you...I made them plain, I made them with bananas, I made them with apples, I made them with pears which were my favorite. And since I didn't have flours like quinoa or amaranth readily available, I thought I'd try a milled organic seed mix from Linwoods which we'd all received in our FBC goodie bags, having seen Deeba use it successfully for macarons.
Gluten Free Pear Chocolate Muffins
They were so incredibly delicious, I made batch after batch after batch; so many in fact, that I had to start giving them away almost as fast as I was making them, causing us to go calling on everyone we remotely knew, lest we ate them all and A. turned into a Punjabi chocolate bar with all of the other chocolate things coming out of the kitchen as well.

They're perfect for an afternoon snack, practical to take with you on a picnic or just around the corner to a friend's for tea. If you get a chance, try making them with milled seeds or nut meal instead of regular flour, I guarantee it gives them a lovely nutty sort of flavor (even if you don't use nuts) and it gives you the impression that you're really doing your health a favor (just don't think about the butter, sugar, etc...). As I've said, they already caused us to mingle, but just because they do have chocolate and are sort of like bread -muffins are a bread product, right? right?- I'm sending them over to my friend Jamie who is hosting this edition of the Monthly Mingle with a theme of bread and chocolate.

Next post I promise to tell you about the park with the crazy squirrels, and since I never do anything in chronological order it seems, I'll talk about Valentine's Day too, but for a special reason.
Benches in winter light

Gluten-free Pear Chocolate Muffins with Maple or Chocolate Mascarpone Icing
adapted from Béatrice Peltre's recipe at La Tartine Gourmande
Makes about 9-10 muffins

For the muffins:
110g (1 cup) milled flaxseed, sunflower and pumpkin seeds (Linwoods) or nut meal
1/2 tsp salt (I use Maldon salt)
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
100g (7 Tbsp) unsalted butter, chopped into chunks (as in preferably not left as one stick)
3 large eggs
100g (1/2 cup) unrefined sugar (sometimes I used light brown, sometimes dark brown, sometimes blond)
2 pears, peeled and chopped into small cubes

For the mascarpone icing:
100g mascarpone cheese at room temperature
25g dark chocolate
2 Tbsp maple syrup
The decorations are chocolate sprinkle on the maple icing and shaved white chocolate on the dark chocolate icing

For the muffins:
- Heat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and fill a muffin pan with muffin cases.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, nut meal or milled seeds you're using with the salt and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, or a double-boiler, or in the microwave if that's what you're used to, melt the chocolate and the butter, mixing them to be homogeneous.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until light and double in volume (easiest way is to do it with a stand or hand mixer).
- Add the melted chocolate and butter gently, either mixing on low speed, whisking slowly, or with a spatula taking care not to beat the batter too much (so as not to lose too much air).
- Fold the dry mix in, using a spatula or wooden spoon, until just combined.
- Fill the muffin cases 3/4 full and add a few pieces (~3) of pear into each case.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Let cool on a wire rack. 

For the icing:
- Melt the chocolate over simmering water, or a double-boiler or the microwave as described above.
- Whip the mascarpone cheese until creamy. Divide into two small bowls.
- Mix the chocolate with one half of the mascarpone quickly (it will thicken because the chocolate is seizing) and the maple syrup with the other half of the mascarpone.
- Spread immediately on the cooled muffins.
Decorate, or not, and eat until you drop.

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Sari said...

Oh wonderful, I've been waiting for this recipe since you tweeted about these muffins! ;) They look delicious! I hope spring will come very soon as almost everything I bake contains chocolate, and I should really stop eating it! :)

görel said...

I love the idea of using milled seeds, I just have to try that.

Park with crazy squirrels in London, would that be Regent's Park by any chance? I remember encountering some seriously insane squirrels there.

I hope your toe is better now!

The Cooking Ninja said...

Oh yes...the Pear & Chocolate combination is divine. When I made my first Chocolate Pear Cake in Jan 2008, we were surprised at how delicious it was. My parents-in-law aren't dessert people but they loved it so much that they ate half of the cake when I made it again specially for them. :) Some of my friends and readers who made that recipe, were surprised at how great it tasted. :)

I'll have to try it with that packet of milled organic seed mix I got from FBC goodie bag. :)

my spatula said...

oh, how i wish i lived remotely close by, so i could have been a lucky recipient of these beautiful gems! love the use of the seed mix combined with the chocolate and pears. i imagine being able to nibble on these all day long.

The Purple Foodie said...

Chocolate and pear is a match made in heaven. Lucky you to have found a 1 kg bar of Valrhona!

Mowie said...

Yay Hilda! I get so excited when a new post of yours pops up in my reader. So glad you're blogging again after your little 'break'. I love your posts! And your photos are looking great! I especially love the one of A. (I presume) rubbing his tummy while holding the empty muffin cases - so cute =)

Kerrin @ said...

perfect, i have been wondering what to do with that big bag of milled seeds we got at FBC. voila the recipe. and i CAN NOT believe you just happened to stumble upon a one kilo bar of valrhona, hellooooo ! did you forget you had it ?! ;) oh, and chocolate of that quality can last years after the expiration dates. trust me.

fabulous photos, as usual. meanwhile, i remember seeing you post 2 pics of the pears above on twitter. what was the difference, i never found out ?

- curious in zürich

Rambling Tart said...

Oh, my gluten-free friend will be delighted by these!! I love the addition of pears, oooeee, yes, I do! :-) Can't wait to hear about your crazy squirrel encounter!!! Hope your poor toe feels better soon. :-(

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Lovely muffins, I am intrigued to hear about this squirrel, hope you won't keep us in the dark for long!

Bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets) said...

Ha! " Lest we ate them all and A. turned into a punjabi chocolate bar..." I see a movie here!!

Love the shot of the bicycle- very nice.

I've never baked gluten free...i'm going to have to real soon.

MeetaK said...

pear and chocolate a divine combo and i am in stitches trying to imagine the punjabi chocolate. give him a hug form me!!

Jamie said...

Oh forget the squirrels and the park and give me some of these muffins now! And I am so with Kerrin - you must always have lots of chocolate hanging around in the house to forget a one kilo bar of Valrhona! I'd've eaten it while my poor foot was up resting on the arm of the sofa. The muffins are brilliant from beginning to mascrpone end. Gorgeous. And of course muffins are bread! I mean, you are eating these during mealtime, right?

Glad you made it under the wire for my Monthly Mingle. Now get thee back to the sofa, put that foot up and eat a couple of muffins.

Jeanne @ Cooksister! said...

Squirrels are all fine and well... but chocolate muffins win every time!! A 1kg block of Valrhona?? I can see why we are friends :) Beuatiful photos, btw.

shayma said...

beautiful recipe and gorgeous photos. i shall share this w my friend who cant eat gluten.
ps i love your lion's head door knocker. i bet papoose loves it too!

diva said...

I love how we find the oddest and most amazing things when we're packing or unpacking! You found a 1kg chocolate bar - that's like striking the lottery :) Can't wait to see what you use it for. Yummilicious muffins. You make me wish I had one now. It's been a while (a very long while) since i had one as goodlooking as this. x

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

oh i have to tell you i have tasted bea's muffins and not only are they beautiful but they taste insanely good. i am definitely bookmarking this. i too love gluten but we will see what my tests say. i might have to give it up and possibly dairy too. but with recipes like these who can complain!

Bonnie said...

These look fabulous and I'd love to try them. In your directions, you say to mix the flour with the seeds or nut meal, but I'm not seeing any flour listed in the ingredients??



Deeba PAB said...

Nom nom nom...the squirrels and nuts will have to wait this time! Your pictures are beautiful Hilda, as always! You must organise a foodie treasure hunt at your place... I'd be hoping to stumble on some delectable treasures!

Hilda said...

Sari: I do too, but every time I stop for a couple of days I start craving it again. ;)

Gorel: Hyde Park actually, but I'm quite sure there are insane squirrels in Regent's Park too. My toe is much better thanks. =)

Pam: That cake looks good! But it made me think of a pear tiramisu inspired cake more than a poire belle helene inspired cake.

Giao: I'd gladly trade you a batch for some spring rolls! ;)

Shaheen: It's a secret strategy I have of stashing delicious ingredients in random places so I can be thrilled when I discover them. Well, not really. =)

Mowie: Thank you sweetie, love you too. Ah yes, except I staged his hand, although there were quite a few muffins in that belly. ;)

Kerrin: The only difference between those two pictures was the shutter speed, 1/100th for the first one, 1/80th for the second one. I did forget I had the bar, it was meant to be a gift for someone. Oops...

Krista: Thank you! Crazy squirrel encounter up for your perusal. Hopes your bruises are better too.

Sarah: Thanks. There was more than one squirrel...

Beth: The Bollywood version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with A. as the naughty boy who turns into a chocolate bar. ;)

Meeta: Hug giving - check. xo

Jamie: I ate them all day long, before mealtimes, during mealtimes, after mealtimes... Happy I made it too. Good to have something to motivate me. xx

Jeanne: Thank you, and yes I do prefer the muffins to the squirrels. I try never to have less than 1Kg of chocolate available to me, you know, for emergencies. ;)

Shayma: Hee, thanks, but that's not our door knocker, it's just a neato door knocker on someone else's house nearby.

Davina: Next time I make a batch, you're getting some. Promise.

Aran: I so hope your tests come back good and not gluten or dairy-limiting! Some day I hope I get to taste the original muffins too (Bea's). x

Bonnie: I sent you a tweet but just to let you know, that's just awkward phrasing on my part; I don't expect anyone to have Linwoods' seeds to use, so I figure everyone will try different combos of dry ingredients in this, some using just plain flour or gluten-free flours.

Deeba: I wish there weren't so many boxes all the time, then I'd know what ingredients I actually have! ;) You're welcome any time sweetie.

Bren said...

i want all of those cupcakes! the use of pear makes it perfect in so many ways! and the mascarpone icing is literally icing on cake, no pun intended!

Anonymous said...

These sound delicious-I love all the photos! Chocolate and pear is such a surprisingly great combination so I'm really looking forward to giving this recipe a try!

The Curious Baker said...

Yeahhhhhhhhh! These are gluten freelicious, well I don't know yet but I will soon, what a fantastic way to gluten free a muffin, I've tried pretty much every gluten free flour going and I've never thought to use milled flaxseed. Thanks for this!

La Tartine Gourmande said...

Oh Hilda,

I am late in commenting on your lovely post. Thanks for your kind words about the muffins ;-) These look delicious. It would have been such a shame to see the chocolate go to waste!

Gluten Free Mom said...

I never would have thought about maple and chocolate as a flavor combination before, but now that I am reading this it sure does sound like they would go together well...especially now come to think of it I do like putting chocolate chips in my gluten free pancakes, lol. I am going to try these really soon, thanks for this recipe, I was needing something new and unusual to make!

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