Friday, December 10, 2004
SHF3 – Auntie Bee’s Cardamom Apricot Muffins
Sugar High Friday has rolled around again. Hosted by Zarah Maria of Food & Thoughts, the theme is “Spice Up Your Winter!” Participants were asked to include cardamom, nutmeg and/or allspice in their sweet creations.
I didn’t have to think about this very long before deciding that I would focus on cardamom. My great aunt, Auntie Bee, who passed away many years ago but still is very fondly remembered by my entire family, once told me that cardamom was her favorite spice. I don’t remember that she told me why, but I believe that she had a fascination with all things Swedish (probably because Uncle Ted’s family was Swedish) . This fascination apparently included Swedish cooking, because one of the cookbooks I inherited from her is titled “Good Food from Sweden”. Cardamom is commonly used in Scandanavian baked goods.
I looked through Auntie Bee's Swedish cookbook for recipes using cardamom. I found a couple that were possibilities, but the instructions all started with “Wash and dry butter.” I had no idea what that meant, although I’ve since found some instructions on-line for washing butter , and I suspect it is not necessary with the butter we purchase today.
Having ruled out the recipes from the Swedish cookbook, I was briefly at a loss as to where to turn next but then remembered that I have Auntie Bee’s recipe boxes! I looked through her recipes for cookies, cakes and breads and came up with several recipes using cardamom. There were recipes for a Coffee Braid, Holiday Cardamom Bread, Margo’s Danish Pastry, and Cardamom Fruit Muffins. I’d eventually like to try the other recipes, but for this occasion I went with the easy one – Cardamom Fruit Muffins. It is actually a variation of a recipe called “Rich & Sweet Muffins” that calls for the addition of ground cardamom and candied fruit. I swapped dried apricots for the candied fruit, cut the recipe in half, and added a cinnamon icing (an idea I got from the coffee braid recipe). The muffins were really wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever made muffins with butter before. My usual recipe for blueberry muffins calls for melted butter, but I’ve always substituted vegetable oil. What a difference the butter makes! The crust is tender and crunchy-crumbly and the muffins live up to their name – they are rich and sweet!
Auntie Bee’s Cardamom Apricot Muffins
makes 6 – can be doubled
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
¼ cup softened butter
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup milk
¼ cup chopped, dried apricots
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 6 cup muffin tin. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom and set aside. Cream the butter with the sugar and then beat in the egg. On low speed add half the flour mixture, then the milk, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Add the apricots. Spoon batter into muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool a little, then drizzle with cinnamon icing (strained confectioner’s sugar and a bit of cinnamon mixed with a little milk or cream). I used a sandwich bag with a corner clipped off to drizzle the icing.