Brunch Series – Vanilla Pear Muffins

This is how my morning started.  Red pears and coffee, yum.  I began my day by peeling pears for this delicious recipe, which is actually quite a delightful, relaxing way to start the morning.   Now that the husband and I have some free weekend time, I wanted to wake up and make him a big, delicious brunch. This was the weekend was the weekend for that.

I found a recipe for vanilla pear muffins that I wanted to make for some aging pears I had on hand.  Unfortunately, the recipe wasn’t *exactly* what I had hoped for, because they called for applesauce and had no actual pear in them.  I changed the recipe slightly to add more of a pear punch by switching the applesauce to ground up pears.  I peeled and cored 2 of my own pears and chopped them up in the food processor, which worked great, because there were some little bits of pear that didn’t get pulverized which cooked wonderfully in the muffins.  However, if you don’t want to make your own, it is pretty easy to get pear sauce now.

These muffins are not your normal muffins; they are incredibly moist and fragrant.  In fact, my husband asked if I was making cookies while they were baking, they smelled so good. 😉  The vanilla and pear delicately balance each other and the granola topping adds a nice crunch.

Adapted from The Pastry Affair

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 Tablespoons (that’s correct, Tablespoons) vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pear sauce or approximately 2 pears, ground in a food processor
granola, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt).

In another bowl, mix together the eggs, vanilla, zest, brown sugar, butter, oil, and pear sauce until well combined. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Do not worry about lumps; it is ok to have some in a muffin mix. Distribute the muffin batter evenly between 12 baking cups. Sprinkle granola on top of muffins, if desired.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the muffin tops are lightly browned and bounce back to the touch. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Vanilla Mousse

This adorable frothy cup is not a vanilla latte.  It is a lighter than air mousse.  I’m usually not a huge fan of mousse, but this recipe is fantastic.  It is a lovely little vanilla mousse with a punch.  Real vanilla beans leave a strong vanilla taste in your mouth.  It also has a velvetly smooth texture.  In short, its pure heaven.  And simple too!  So here’s a special Thanksgiving treat for all of you out there.

Now, I must admit, this is not my recipe.  This is from the food blogger, Sugarlaws.  You can find her original recipe here.

All you need to make this mouse is: One Vanilla bean, seeds scraped from the pod
2/3 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 cup heavy cream

Whip heavy cream with vanilla bean seeds and 1/3 cup sugar until soft peaks form (err on the side of slightly overwhipped). Set aside. Next, in a medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1/3 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Note: this will take a little time.

Fold together the whipped cream mixture and the egg mixtures (I folded the eggs into the whipped cream). Gently pour into individual serving dishes and refrigerate at least six hours, or overnight.