Exotic flavors of cardamom, one of the world’s very ancient spices, along with the piquant spicy flavor of ginger, moist dates and ground pistachios put these muffins in the festive category. Perfect for the holidays, the muffins remind me of fruitcake but without all the candied fruit. Inspiration for these muffins came from having a bag of unshelled pistachios used in a still life photography project. I certainly didn’t want to waste them, but shelling any nut is a boring process. Mine was easier by watching a riveting episode of Justified on television-can’t wait for Season 5!
When choosing dates for these muffins, dried ones that are still moist and syrupy work best and are available year round. Buy the unsalted pale green pistachios, never the dyed red ones, popular in the 1940’s when pistachios were imported from the Middle East and dyed red to camouflage archaic methods of harvesting. California, Arizona and New Mexico are leading growers of pistachios, so they also are readily available year round.
Pistachio Date Muffins
Makes 10-12 Muffins
Recipe Adapted From Flavored Breads-Recipes From Mark Miller’s Coyote Cafe
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
1/3 cup oatmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups pitted, chopped dates
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup, firmly packed brown sugar, dark or light
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup grated carrot
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the flour, oatmeal and pistachios in a food processor and pulse until nuts are finely ground. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Combine the remaining dry ingredients and add to the bowl of flour pistachio mixture. Stir in the chopped dates and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk the butter, brown sugar, honey, milk, eggs and carrot. With a spoon, stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix-some flour should still be visible.
Either lightly grease a muffin pan or place cupcake papers in the tin. Spoon the batter into the tin, filling each to the top. The muffins will not rise much. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a testing pick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of one of the muffins. Let cool for 5 minutes, then turn muffins out on a cooling rack. Serve warm or cool completely. Can be frozen, wrapped in foil or a freezer proof container, for about 2 months.
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