When September arrived, I started to get really excited for apple season. I love baking with apples because they always make the whole house smell amazing and they pair so well with warm spices that I crave in the Fall season.
Unfortunately, the apple season didn't go so well in Ontario this year, as 85% of the crop was destroyed by frosts. So with local apples not readily available - and high prices on the ones that are available - I've decided that I'll have to change focus this year and start eating more pears instead!
I picked up a basket of red pears at the market the other weekend and since they were already quite ripe, I knew that I'd be cutting most of them up and using them in recipes rather than eating them whole.
First up on my list of pear recipes - muffins!
I've always loved the combination of pears with ginger, so I took that idea for my muffins but added some more spices and instant chai mix to incorporate the flavour of one of my favourite cold weather drinks: chai.
I based my muffins off a recipe for vegan peach pecan muffins and changed some things around to turn them into pear-walnut-chai muffins. These muffins are made with a mix of whole wheat and spelt flours, and lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup. I also reduced the oil a bit and added more applesauce, so overall they're pretty healthy!
I thought these had the perfect balance of warm Fall spices, and I loved the addition of crunchy walnuts and juicy pears to make them a bit more interesting! They also rose up beautifully in the oven and came out so light and fluffy - a nice change from the usual muffins I make, which tend to be dense and hearty.
I hope you guys like pears too because I'll have another pear recipe coming up soon!
Chai-Spiced Pear and Walnut Muffins
Adapted from a recipe in Ripe From Around Here
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup light spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch each of cloves and cardamom
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tbsp powdered instant chai mix (optional - for more chai flavour)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce (I used cinnamon flavoured)
2 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp pure maple syrup (if you like sweeter muffins, add 1-2 more tablespoons)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2.5 tbsp chopped walnuts
3/4 cup peeled diced pear
Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare a muffin tin by spraying with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients (flours through to cloves and cardamom).
Pour the almond milk in a small bowl and stir in the instant chai mix until it dissolves. Add the applesauce, canola oil, maple syrup and vanilla and stir to mix.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until the dry ingredients are incorporated (some lumps are okay). Fold in the walnuts and the diced pear.
Spoon batter into prepared pan, dividing equally among six muffin cups. Bake in the preheated oven for 24-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let sit in the pan for a few minutes, then carefully remove and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Makes 6 muffins.