Apricot Muffins with a Topping of Crunchy Goodness

Sweet, salty, tender and crunchy -- that's what these apricot muffins are like.

Sweet, gooey caramel with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Skinny jeans with a billowy top.

And the gregarious jock with the shy, bookish girl next-door.

Plain and simple, opposites attract.

Why? Because in the immortal words of Tom Cruise to Rene Zellweger in “Jerry Maguire,” they complete one another.

The same can be said about the best baked goods. If there’s soft, there ought to be crunchy, as well, to provide added contrast and greater interest.

When I decided to bake a batch of muffins the other week, using summer apricots fresh from the farmers market, I knew I wanted the tender treats to sport not only a crunchy top, but one that was both a little sweet and a bit salty.

My inspiration came from a bag of Sahale Snacks Almonds with Cranberries, Honey & Sea Salt, of which I had received as a sample. The mix of honey-roasted almonds, toasted sesame seeds, dried cranberries and orange blossom honey did just the trick. Rough chopped, the nut mixture was sprinkled over the muffin tops just before baking.

The Sahale nut mixture before being chopped up.

The nut mixes come in a variety to choose from.

The resulting muffins were just as I had hoped: nutty, crunchy, salty-sweet on top and tender within with big chunks of soft apricots in every bite.

If you don’t have a bag of Sahale nuts on hand, you can use sliced almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans, along with a sprinkle of sugar, sesame seeds and a tiny pinch of salt over the top of each muffin before baking. Also, feel free to substitute peaches or nectarines for apricots, if you prefer.

Enjoy one for breakfast. Or heck, even after dinner for dessert. After all, life is just a little more delicious with a serving of contrariness.

Apricot Muffins with a Topping of Crunchy Goodness

(makes 12)

1 3/4 cup pitted, chopped fresh apricots

1/2 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons, divided use

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons wheat germ

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and allowed to cool slightly

1 cup low-fat milk

1 teaspoon almond extract

Heaping 1/3 cup Sahale Snacks Almonds with Cranberries, Honey & Sea Salt, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a small bowl, toss apricots with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, wheat germ, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In another medium-size bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, milk and almond extract until combined. Stir in the flour mixture just until evenly moistened. Don’t over-mix or your muffins will end up tough. It’s OK if the batter still looks a little lumpy.

Fill muffin liners almost to the top with the batter. Sprinkle chopped nut mixture over each muffin. Then sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar evenly over all the muffin tops.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool the pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes, then carefully remove each muffin from the pan.

From Carolyn Jung

More Apricot Recipes: Slim Apricot Tarts

And: Apricot, Almond Brown Butter Tart

And: Apricot Flaky Scones

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