My friend Nancy is a hard core gift basketer. You get a basket from her, you know you've been gifted. They're always filled to the brim with fun cooking implements that you always wanted, but could never justify buying for yourself, books, and food. So, I feel a lot of pressure to reciprocate, even though she truly wouldn't mind if you didn't give her a basket. Mine can't approach hers in generosity, but I try. I try. The picture above is the basket I stuffed with baked goods for her and her family. The basket itself is from Sur La Table. If it wasn't intended for Nancy', I would have kept it myself. Actually, it's a lot of fun doing this. Nancy deserves it and I get to bake (and sample) a lot of cool things.
This year I made chocolate truffle heart cakes, oatmeal cookies, and lemon-yogurt muffins. I also tucked in a loaf of Easter bread from a bakery in town.
For Valentine's Day (she never misses a holiday), Nancy gave me a basket with a silicone heart shaped muffin pan and a Williams-Sonoma mix for chocolate truffle cake. I never got around to using the cake mix, so I decided to bake little hearts for her Easter basket. Oh, I made a few regular muffins with the left-over batter. But, they......disappeared. Into my stomach.
And I made Nancy's favorite cookie in the whole world--old fashioned oatmeal cookies. And what could be better than a freshly baked oatmeal cookie? There may be things as good, but not better.
Lemon-Yogurt Muffins (Williams-Sonoma)
2 cups (10 oz/315 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Grated zest and juice of one lemon
1 1/4 (10 oz/315 g) cups plain yogurt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 tablespoons (2 1/2 oz/75 g) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra from greasing pans
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract or lemon oil (optional)
For the Topping
1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz/45 g) finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
In a bowl, stir together the dry ingredients, including lemon zest. Make a well and add the wet ingredients. Vigorously combine the ingredients until combined, about 20 strokes. The batter will be fluffy, but slightly lumpy. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups about 3/4 full and just short of the rim.
To make topping. In a small bowl stir together the nuts, sugar, and mace. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of topping on each muffin, just before baking
Bake until golden around the edges and dry and springy to the touch, 16-20 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the middle should come out clean. Remove each muffin with a metal spatula and place on a rack.