I think I may be a little bit crazy. With the show opening tonight, I probably should have spent my one night off sleeping, rehearsing, preparing myself – anything but baking. Baking, however, was precisely what I did. Baking is actually a great way to blow off steam. It may not be helping my performance, but it’s keeping me calm (if not exactly sane and rational).
The baking alone may not be crazy, but the fact that I’m entering my baking into a blogging event probably is. I never really think my recipes are up to par with so many experts out there. Besides, this is a baking event. While I love to bake, I’m not so skilled that I can easily whip up my own baking recipe.
Still, something about Helene of Tartlette’s Sugar High Friday (Also Jennifer of Domestic Goddess) drew me in. If I’m going to use my Friday night baking, why not try to come up with something new and enter it in an event? It’s not as if hosts and participants of blogging events are going to publicly humiliate me and say, “Your recipe is horrible. Don’t ever enter a blogging event again," on their blogs.” (At least I have never seen a blog event host do this.) My confidence in my ability to be among the foodie world has been shaken a bit lately after getting sort of scolded on one popular food forum and then flat-out rejected by another. I want to prove to myself that I can really play with the big kids, so I decided I'd throw my new muffin recipe out there.
The theme of the event is citrus. When I think of my favorite citrus fruits, I think of oranges and limes, and to a lesser degree, lemons. I prefer the taste of lime in savory foods, but oranges I like in both savory foods and desserts. Although lemon desserts don’t top my list of favorites, I do sometimes crave a good lemon cake or lemon bar.
I decided to come up with an orange dessert. I had some crystallized ginger in my cupboard and some extra oranges in the fruit bowl, so it seemed like a natural pairing. It was my original intention to make orange-ginger muffins with just the cystallized ginger sprinkled on top. That seemed a little too ordinary. I thought about some of my most beloved ingredients. There are few things I love more than mascarpone. I came up with the idea of mixing the crystallized ginger in with mascarpone and putting that into the muffins to give them a nice creamy element.
I'm not hugely fond of heavy spice in desserts, but I thought it worked well in these. They gave off a wonderful Christmas-y aroma when baking. The creamy element in the mascarpone gave a nice contrast to the cake-like muffin and the ginger bits gave it a little chewiness.
I never said they looked pretty.
Here is the recipe. Enjoy.
Ginger Spice Creamsicle Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 Cup+ 2 Tbl sugar
Grated zest of one organge
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon orange extract.
Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups.
Combine mascarpone, orange extract, 2 Tbp sugar, and cystallized ginger. Set aside.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. Mix in sugar.
In a separate bowl combine grated orange peel ginger, orange juice, eggs, vanilla and melted butter.
Add wet ingredients to dry. Stir until dry ingredients are just moistened.
Pour into 12 muffin cups. On top of each muffin, add a dollop of the mascarpone mixture.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool muffins well before removing them from the pan as the mascarpone is a bit runny when it's hot.