These quick and easy to make muffins combine the flavours of Christmas cakes with healthy fresh fruit and vegetables. They are a perfect healthy substitute for heavy Christmas cakes.
I have to admit that these muffins are fairly experimental, but I am really happy with the results so far. Though in this case I only used a very simple glaze icing on some of them. I am not that keen on making them overly sweet, but I might use thicker icing when I make these on Christmas day or perhaps arrange the glace cherries on top of each muffin.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes plus resting time
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 8-10 Muffins
Ingredients 3/4 cup self-raising white flour
1/2 cup self-raising wholemeal flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup mixed dried fruit (without cherries)
20 glace cherries, halved
10 dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup shredded dried coconut
1 cup finely grated carrot
1 small apple coarsely grated
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
5 tablespoons rum or brandy (you can substitute 5 teaspoons of rum essence instead)
1/4 cup light oil (I used sunflower oil)
1/4 cup milk
Optional: icing mix
A quick note on the ingredients. There are a lot of them in this recipe, but each one is selected for specific reasons. For example, the dates help give the muffins a mildly sticky feel without having to buy treacle. The reason I added the cherries in myself instead of as part of a mix is because, as a kid I was always disappointed that Christmas cakes never had enough cherries; the apple and carrot add moisture without needing to add too much oil; and the coconut is in there because I like it.
Combine all the dry ingredients, excluding the dried fruit, in a large bowl and mix thoroughly from the middle.
Grate the carrot and apple and add this to the mix. Let this sit for a little while as you prepare the other ingredients so that the moisture from the carrot and apple can be absorbed by the flour.
Mix the egg, milk and oil and other liquid ingredients together and then add to the bowl. Remember to stir from the middle.
Add in the dried fruit. The mix should be a reasonably dry as both the fresh and dried fruit will actually make the muffins fairly moist. If it is still a little dry, simply add a dash of oil or milk to the bowl.
The secret with the dates is to let them sit in the muffin mix for about 10 minutes. The flavour from the dates will infuse with the mixture and will give the muffins a slightly sticky feel when they are baked.
Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tray and bake at 180 C for 20 minutes. You will know they are ready because when you stab them with a toothpick, it will come back dry.
Let the muffins cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. They are delicious like this, but you may also want to decorate them a little.
In this case I just tried a little glaze icing. While delicious, the icing does fly in the face of my plan to make a healthier Christmas treat.