May 5, 2014
We’re a muffin family. We love mini zucchini muffins at snack time, strawberry white chocolate chip muffins for dessert, sweet potato muffins with cream cheese filling for school snack, and have even been known to make lower sugar muffins for breakfast. We know muffins and these totally delicious, partially whole wheat Date Pecan Muffins are our current favorite.
These muffins get much of their sweetness from vanilla soaked dates, which allows me to cut down on the white sugar. Less refined sugar means that I can feel more comfortable serving these as part of a well-balanced breakfast (alongside fruit and a hard boiled egg, for example). The only problem is that it’s hard to eat just one!
I love the flavor of cardamom, which is prominent in these muffins thanks to how well it pairs with pecans and dates, but if you’re not sure that your family will like cardamom shift the spice balance towards cinnamon. Or get creative and mix up your own spice blend. If you stick with some combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, it’s hard to go wrong.
You can also substitute nutrient-dense walnuts for pecans, though there’s something about the natural sweetness of pecans that works perfectly in this recipe.
However you try these, make a big batch. They freeze beautifully and are very likely to turn you into a muffin family, too. You’ll want to have enough on hand to serve for breakfast, pack in kiddo’s lunchbox, and even dish out for dessert.
Spiced Pecan Date Muffins
Adapted from the Date Walnut Muffins in Mad Hungry Cravings by Lucinda Scala Quinn
(Can be shared with kids 8+ mos)*
Makes 18 muffins
1 cup water
5 ounces (3/4 cup) pitted dates
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup neutral oil such as safflower, canola or grapeseed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line eighteen muffin cups with paper liners or lightly grease with oil.
2. Add water, vanilla and cinnamon stick to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the dates, remove from the heat, and let cool to room temperature. Drain the dates, discarding the water and cinnamon stick, and chop.
3. Whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt,cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves in a large bowl. In a separate, medium bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, oil, and syrup. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and whisk together.
4. Fold in the dates and pecans being careful not to overmix. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups filling them about three-quarters. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing and allowing them to finish cooling on a rack.
*Note: These delicious muffins make a great early finger food for eaters safely managing soft foods. Just be sure to cut the muffin into age appropriate bites. And remember that a little of this sweet treat goes a long way to young eaters.