[This is the third of three recipes I provided for the beta launch of Foodie.com in February of 2012. The site has just undergone a redesign. Thus, I’m republishing the recipes here so that they can link to them from the new site. The first is here. Here is the second.]
I was drinking some ordinary tea one day and wishing that it was masala chai, the spiced Indian tea. I was also craving a muffin to go with my tea. As I sat gazing out the window and daydreaming about muffins and tea, it occurred to me that the spices commonly used in masala chai – cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon especially – would also work in all kinds of sweet baked goods. Cardamom has a particular affinity for carrots, so for my first try I made carrot muffins. They were everything I had been dreaming of, fragrant with warming spices.
You’ll notice that I pureed half the carrots with the rest of the liquid ingredients. This makes the muffins very moist and prevents them from being crumbly, which sometimes happens in baked goods without eggs. Fennel is almost never sold ground, but you can grind your own seeds in a dedicated spice grinder, a coffee grinder, or a blender. If you need to grind green cardamom pods, first slice them open across the middle and shake out the small black seeds. Grind the seeds and discard the husk. Finally, if the tiny amounts of fennel and cardamom won’t grind properly, try adding the remaining already-ground spices to your grinder for weight.
Vegan Masala Carrot Muffins
1-3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
A tiny pinch black pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 carrots, peeled, about 3/4 pound
1 (6-ounce) carton vanilla soy yogurt
2/3 cup water or soy milk
1/3 cup canola oil
Preheat oven to 400 F. Oil 12 muffin cups.
Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel seed, cloves, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Fit food processor with shredding disk. Shred the carrots. Transfer the carrots to a bowl and fit the processor with the S-shaped blade. Add half the shredded carrots back to the food processor, along with the yogurt, water or soy milk, and oil. Process until smooth.
Add the reserved shredded carrots and the carrot puree to the dry ingredients. Stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened; do not stir more than necessary. Spoon the batter into the oiled muffin cups. Bake for 18-22 minutes until the top springs back when gently pushed.
Makes 12 muffins.