Apple Walnut Muffins

So I may have complained about the unseasonably warm weather last weekend a little too soon…in my defense my building had already turned on the heat in 80 degree weather!  Regardless, this week turned cold and rainy bringing with it a craving for warm and comforting fall flavors…and perhaps a touch of early seasonal depression.

Luckily, I still had a lot of apples left from a recent apple picking trip to Russell Orchards that were begging to be baked into a delicious new treat.

Back in college I created (and perfected) my first ever recipe, Apple Cinnamon Chip Bread (or muffins).   Since my local Whole (Paycheck) Foods doesn’t sell Hershey’s cinnamon chips, I decided to modify it a bit by using walnuts for a contrasting texture element and topping with a maple glaze and more walnuts.  Warning: your kitchen will smell like an apple pie and you’ll immediately want to eat all the muffins when they come out of the oven!

The apples, walnuts and cinnamon are almost reminiscent of chariest (a traditional apple, walnut and wine mixture served at Passover to remind us of our ancestors) minus the sickeningly sweet Manischevitz wine.  The maple glaze takes it a step further by adding an extra touch of New England fall flavor before being topped with more toasted walnuts.

You may be asking, do I need to toast my walnuts?  Yes, the answer is yes.  ALWAYS toast your nuts (sorry just had to say that).  Toasting any nut brings out it’s flavor and gives it more texture which is ideal for baking.  Click here for several methods that can be used.  Just be careful not to let them burn!  (No one likes burnt nuts…too far?)

(Here is a brief guide to help choose the best apples for baking.)

Apple Walnut Muffins

(makes 12 muffins)

4 Tbs butter, melted
3/8 cup white sugar
3/8 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup peeled and chopped apple
1/2 cup pureed apple or unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup toasted walnuts plus another 1/2 cup toasted walnuts for the glaze

Maple Glaze
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbs butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners and spray with non-stick spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Mix until mixture is smooth. Beat in egg. Stir in chopped apples and pureed apples (or apple sauce) until well mixed.

In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually incorporate into the apple mixture. Stir in 1/2 cup walnuts.

Divide batter evenly into the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out cleanly. Let cool.

Make the maple glaze by heating all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and whisking until the powdered sugar is dissolved.  Drizzle immediately over muffin tops and top with toasted nuts.  The glaze hardens quickly so make sure to top with walnuts immediately or else the glaze will harden and the walnuts will not stick.  Enjoy!

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