Saturday, June 06, 2009

Cherry Almond Muffins

When I lived in Houston I saved a recipe from the Houston Chronicle for Treebeard's Fresh Pear Cake. I love pears and I found it interesting that the recipe called for soaking the pears in the oil and sugar for an hour before adding the entire mixture to the dry ingredients. But, unless it's a special occasion, I hardly ever bake's too tempting to have a whole cake around the house. I do like to turn cake recipes into cupcakes or muffins (built-in portion control!). This recipe sounded like a perfect candidate for muffins...with a few healthy modifications, of course.

For the first go-round, I reduced the sugar by a quarter, replaced a quarter of the oil with skim milk, and swapped half of the flour for whole wheat pastry flour. They were so good! But not quite "light" enough for an everyday snack or breakfast.

This was last fall when pears were in season. But now that it's spring I had to try cherries! And the organic cherries were on sale today at Whole Foods! Perfect!

This time I reduced the sugar by half and replaced half of the oil with applesauce...killing 2 birds with 1 stone. The applesauce is sweet (filling in for the missing sugar) and moist (filling in for the missing oil). I still used half whole wheat flour (this time I used white whole wheat flour).

I also reduced the nuts from 1 cup to just 1/4 of a cup and sprinkled them on top of the muffins instead of stirring them into the batter. That way you still get the toasty crunch of the nuts, but save calories by using less.

Cherries are a perfect match for almonds, so I used almond extract and sliced almonds (instead of the vanilla extract and walnuts in the pear version).

The result? Delish! So moist and perfectly sweetened; the cherries are juicy and the almonds crunchy. And the best part...they are nutritious enough to enjoy for breakfast on a regular basis. I'm going to freeze some for later this week! And this recipe is endlessly adaptable for different fruit/nut/flavor combinations, so if you don't like cherries feel free to experiment!

Cherry Almond Muffins

Makes 20 - 22 muffins

4 cups cherries, pitted and halved
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon almond extract
3 cups flour (preferably, at least half whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Combing the cherries, sugar, oil, applesauce, and almond extract in a large mixing bowl. Let stand for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with 20 - 22 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the eggs to the cherry mixture and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (about 10 stirs...don't over mix!).

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups (a scant 1/4 cup per muffin...I used a small ice cream scoop). Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top, slightly pressing them into the batter.

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins for 5 minutes in the tins, and then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Freeze some in zip-top bags to reheat for later (and so you don't eat them all at once!).

Per serving - 193 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 30 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 15 g sugar, 4 g protein (exchanges: 2 starches, 1 fat)


  1. These look super good and less than 200 calories - bonus! I noticed you on the CEiMB site and assume you're a new member so Welcome! I joined this group early last week and made my first Ellie Krieger recipe with the group last Thursday. I love her recipes and have cooked many of them so this group is awesome!


  2. The applesauce vs. fat + sugar substitution is almost always a total win. If somebody would've told me that a year ago before I tried it I would've assumed them a moron. Now I know how well it works, especially in muffins/cupcakes.

    These look really good, nice work on the photos too!

  3. Gorgeous is what these are. Is gorgeous a good description for a muffin?

  4. Alyssa, Nick, and Emily...thanks for the compliments!

  5. I love your recipe and the finished product looks sooo good! One I will be trying for sure!

    By the your site :)

  6. I made these yesterday since I had tons of cherries on hand and this recipe seemed ideal to use up a good portion. Only modifications I made to the recipe is using only all-purpose white flour and baked it for 30-35 minutes, because they weren't done to my fiancé's likeing after 20 minutes. They are almost like small, dense cakes. These would be fine without the extra crunch from the sliced almonds too. They're going to be great for a grab-and-go breakfast for a couple of days, and I've also set some aside for when my mom and family come back from camping in a week's time... I doubt they'd want to miss out on these!