Pear Gingerbread Muffins

I know:  more gingerbread.  But I had to share here a post I wrote over on Honest Cooking.  After all, is there such a thing as too much gingerbread?  No, I didn’t think so.

I always think there’s something sumptuous about the idea of spices.  Hundreds of years ago, when spices were rare enough to be plied as currency, preparing food laced with a cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves must have been more than merely welcoming–it was a statement. Today, of course, spices are no longer such a precious specie–cinnamon is an everyday flavor, nutmeg almost as much, and cloves we even use for decoration.  Still, somehow that legacy of luxury seems to linger, and I think that must be why I always feel a bit profligate when I add spoonfuls of these potent powders to a batter or dough.

Funnily enough, though, the end product is more about comfort than extravagance.  Take gingerbread–laden with spices, but what is more homey? To these gingerbread muffins, I’ve added chunks of juicy pear, a fruit that begs to be combined with these warm flavors. It’s cozy feet in slippers in the middle of winter, but I could eat it any time of year.

Note:  Feel free to substitute whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour for up to half the all-purpose flour called for in the recipe. In fact, this is another advantage of the spices: they add enough flavor that picky eaters probably won’t even notice the whole wheat.
Pear Gingerbread Muffins
  • 2c (9.2 ounces or 260 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • pinch of mace (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 c dark brown sugar (1.4 ounces/40g)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c (120mL) light molasses
  • 1 c (240mL) cold water
  • One Bosc (or other baking) pear, diced.
Preheat oven to 375F (190C).  Line, or lightly butter 12 standard (1/3-cup/80mL) muffin cups.
Whisk flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, mace if using and salt in medium bowl to blend.  In a second larger bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugar, molasses, and eggs. Stir in the cold water. Add half of the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients. Fold in the diced pears.
Bake gingerbread until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 22-25 minutes (check after 20 minutes).
Set on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the muffin tin and allow to cool completely on the rack.