Fruit- and Veggie-Packed Muffins

Who doesn’t need to eat more fruits and veggies? (You know who you are.)

I like to get mine in the form of tender, moist muffins.

OK, my idea of fruits and veggies comes wrapped in butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar. But that got your attention, right?

These “Zucchini, Carrot, and Cranberry Muffins” come courtesy of “The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter). The new cookbook is by third-generation baker, John Barricelli, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY, then worked at Le Bernardin in New York and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, before opening his SoNo Baking Company & Cafe in South  Norwalk, Conn.

If you’ve got zucchini taking over your backyard like zombies with no place else to go, this is the recipe for you. If you have cranberries stashed in your freezer from last Thanksgiving and have been wondering what the heck to do with them, this recipe is for you.

I added 1/3 cup chopped walnuts to the batter, just because I love nuts. Infused with cinnamon and vanilla, the muffins bake up with a nice, light yet hearty texture. The carrots add sweetness, the cranberries a slight tang, and the zucchini a faint grassy note.

Enjoy this alternative way of getting your fruits and veggies.

Zucchini, Carrot, and Cranberry Muffins

(Makes 12)

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sugar

1 cup canola oil

2 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup finely grated carrot (about 2 medium)

3/4 cup finely grated zucchini (about 1 medium)

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup whole fresh or frozen (unthawed) cranberries

1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Set oven rack in the middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray, or generously butter with softened butter; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, grated carrot and zucchini, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and fold with a rubber spatula until flour has been absorbed. Fold in the cranberries and walnuts.

Use a 2-inch (1/4 cup) ice cream scoop to divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.

Bake, rotating pan about two-thirds of the way through the baking time, until muffins are golden brown, the tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Use an offset spatula or table knife to gently lift and turn the muffins on their sides in the muffin cups. Let cool in the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Adapted from “The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook” by John Barricelli

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