I’m a firm believer in celebrating the little things in life. With all the worry in the world today, why not seize any excuse to create a bit of happiness?
For example, every birthday in our house begins with birthday muffins, bagels, or donuts—basically anything round and festive-looking into which candles can be inserted. Even if nothing else special happens in the course of the day, a little singing and candle blowing starts the day on an upbeat note. (For even more fun, include one relighting candle—or trick candle, as we call them. It’s good for extra laughs at any age.)
If you’ve followed my blog for some time now, you’ve likely noticed that I often seek out small ways to observe the less-celebrated holidays. Decorating a frittata with bell pepper shamrocks or making jack-o-lantern clementines with the help of a Sharpie is guaranteed to bring smiles to every face at the table. The effort is minimal, and I’m pretty sure the fun factor makes everything taste better, too.
On Valentine’s Day, I’ve been known to cut boneless chicken breasts in the shape of a heart. (Here’s the easy method; we like it with Seared Sesame Chicken, too.) And one of my boys’ favorite muffin recipes has become breakfast du jour on February 14th thanks to its pretty pink hue. They aren’t exactly bubblegum pink, but the addition of a whole bag of frozen raspberries imparts a festive purplish-pink color and a lightly tangy flavor. White or dark chocolate chips add a hint of sweetness befitting the day.
Holidays present an obvious opportunity to be creative or just plain silly in the kitchen, but there’s no need to let the calendar dictate the fun. In fact, a special gesture is often most appreciated when it’s least expected.
Recently, I hosted a group of friends who had requested a cooking class. After eating the lunch we prepared, I thought to offer them a taste of the raspberry vanilla mini muffins I had baked the day before. At that point, I wasn’t thinking of sharing the recipe here. When the women went back for seconds and thirds, however, and I thought about how much my family adores them, I figured these deserve a spot in The Fountain Avenue Kitchen. If you make them, I hope you agree!
Yield: approximately 36 mini muffins or 12 standard size muffins
- 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen red raspberries, thawed (including juice)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil or butter* (may substitute neutral tasting oil of choice)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour blend**
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup white chocolate chips (dark chocolate is a delicious alternative)
- Optional: shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) for sprinkling on top
- Grease or line mini muffin or regular-size muffin tins. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, mash the raspberries, and then add the eggs, melted oil or butter, and vanilla. Stir to thoroughly combine.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and chips. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and stir until combined.
- Distribute the batter among the prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle a little shredded coconut on top, if desired (I use about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon depending on size of muffin chosen). Bake approximately 10-12 minutes for mini muffins or 15-17 minutes for regular-size muffins. Check for doneness with a toothpick, and then remove from the oven. Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container for 1-2 days at room temperature; refrigerate to preserve freshness for up to a week. The muffins freeze well, too.
- *When using melted coconut oil or butter, it is helpful to have all of the ingredients come to room temperature before mixing so the oil or butter does not solidify. If this happens, warm very gently in the microwave until the oil or butter melts again, taking caution to only return the mixture to room temperature but not cook it.
- **When making my regular muffin and quick bread recipes gluten-free, I typically substitute my own All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend and no one can ever tell. Feel free to use your favorite GF all-purpose flour alternative if needed. Also, when using gluten-free flour, I find it helpful to let the batter sit in the prepared pan for 15-20 minutes before baking. Rice flour is a typical ingredient in these blends and giving it time to absorb moisture from the batter eliminates any grittiness that can sometimes be detected in GF baked goods.