I've been on a muffin tear for about two years and have made dozens of variations with different flours, sugars, oils, fruits, nuts, and even liqueurs. Ask Paul. He tries a new one almost every week. “What do you think?” I say, as he samples each new creation, usually before he can finish his first bite. He narrows his eyes and gets a serious look on his face while still chewing, then remarks on texture, sweetness, flavor, moistness. Each week, I tweak and adjust.
My muffin experiments have coincided with my obsession with whole grains. Aside from the health benefits of whole grains, which have high fiber and protein, whole grains taste good, especially in breads and muffins.
At the moment, amaranth rules my muffin world. The ancient whole grain, native to the Americas and once prized by Aztecs, adds a remarkable moistness and lightness to muffins. The grain, when cooked and stirred into the batter, softens the dough giving it a spongy quality while amaranth flour lightens it, adding an airiness.
I make these in advance for the week, store them in the fridge, and then reheat them in the morning on a panini grill (the single best way to reheat a muffin). Since I munch on them daily for breakfast and like a healthier alternative to the standard sugar-packed muffin, I limit the sugar in this recipe and serve them with a drizzle of raw honey. If you like a sweeter muffin, add another quarter cup of turbinado sugar.
Whole Wheat Amaranth Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon and Walnuts
1 cup milk
1/3 cup amaranth grain, cooked (one part amaranth to three parts water)*
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
4 tablespoons of coconut oil
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I like Arrowhead Mills organic stone ground whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup amaranth flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon Madagascar vanilla bean paste (use vanilla extract if you can't find the paste)
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
6 ounces blueberries
½ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the amaranth grain according to the instructions on the package. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
In a large mixing or KitchenAid bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. If using a KitchenAid, mix with a paddle attachment. If using a mixing bowl, use a hand blender. Blend in the cooled amaranth grain and the coconut oil (if the oil is solid, warm it for 10 seconds in the microwave so it's liquid and room temperature).
In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, amaranth flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt, and mix well, making sure there are no clumps of baking powder.
Slowly blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until mixed through. Do not over mix; this can result in a denser muffin. Blend in the blueberries and walnuts. Grease a 12-muffin tin with butter or canola oil spray. Divide batter into a muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes.
*The amaranth grain takes about 20 minutes to cook. You can cool it quickly by spreading it on a plate and putting it in the freezer for a few minutes, then adding it to the batter.