Is it me, or does everything taste a little better with brown butter. A little slice of wonderful that can immediately sooth the soul. Some days, when things aren't going as planned, I am reassured to know that butter (particularly brown), well..., just seems right. Like gin and tonic, bread and cheese, cookies and milk. Things that shouldn't be messed with. Things that are just meant to be. Brown butter is a newly discovered concept for me. It was not too long ago, that I sat down to a plate of butternut squash ravioli, drizzled with brown butter and crispy bits of sage. Since then, whenever I get the chance, I'm all for browning my butter. I especially love the added flavor it imparts to baked goods, and how it can transform the simplest pasta into the most luxurious food alive.
I happened to blessed with a bounty of pears from a dear friend who works in the agricultural industry. We've been enjoying a variety since her visit, and the rest is to be made into something baked. A tart I thought, or better yet, something small and simple. Perfect for snacking. The first thing that comes to mind when I think about pears, is vanilla and spice. I decided on a muffin, light and airy with a bit of crumble. Something soft and full of goodness. I bought a fresh bag of coconut last week, and every chance I get, I sprinkle some in the bowl for good measure. Fresh coconut is so divine, soft, silky, sweet. Much better than the dried up bag sitting in the back of the cupboard, that I once remember. My pears were almost at the end, soft and juicy. They sliced up well. Assuming your pairs are in their earlier years, grating with a cheese grater is a fine idea.
Soft, warm, and full of character, these muffins are a real treat.
makes 12 muffins
notes: Dice the pears if they are very ripe and soft, or shred with a cheese grater if they are a little more firm. You want the muffins to have a hint of pear, not be overpowered with big chunks in the consistency.
4 tbsp brown butter + 1 tsp for brushing
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar + extra for sprinkling
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup soy or regular milk, preferably a fuller fat
1 1/2 cups pear, peeled, diced or shredded
1/2 cup dried shredded coconut + extra for sprinkling
Line a muffin tin with 12 baking cups. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Place the butter into a small frying or sauce pan on medium heat. Watch closely while the butter heats, for a foam to begin bubbling on the surface. Once the butter starts bubbling, continue to stir with a whisk or spatula. Once the foam starts to subside (this should take 2 minutes), watch carefully for brown specks to form at the bottom of the pot. Once this happens, remove from the heat and let cool. The butter should have a nutty aroma, and be light brown in color. If the butter has turned medium brown, it is likely over cooked and will taste burnt. There is a fine line between the two. The butter browns very quickly!
In a large bowl, whisk the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, ensuring that you break down any lumps in the brown sugar.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, vanilla, and milk. Add the pear and combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet along with the coconut. Mix until moistened.
Fill the muffin cups to the rim. Place on the middle wrack in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Turn the oven to broil, and brush the tops of the muffins with melted butter. Sprinkle brown sugar and coconut on the top and place back into the oven until the coconut turns light brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. The muffins will taste much better once they have cooled. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for a week or frozen. Best enjoyed the day of and a few days after.