BY ALEXIA PTITO
Spring has sprung (sort of) and whether or not snow is still upon the ground, the maples have yielded their bounty and the Easter bunny will soon deliver its chocolates and treats to happy children everywhere. And most of us will be having a more or less functional Sunday brunch this week, to celebrate the equinox.
When I am not hosting, as with a lot of foodies, I always like to arrive with a little something for the host, more personal than a bottle of wine, and also something I know my kids will eat. Since in our family, it is the bunny (and my mother-in-law) who takes care of dessert (I’m guessing we’re not unique in that respect), I can’t bring anything sweet. I wanted something that would pair well with whatever type of brunch we would be having, be it the classic eggs and sausage or the fancy baked ham and greens. Hence, this year, I settled upon a double batch of savoury muffins, thinking the extras would make lunches easy next week.
Being from Québec, most of my go-to recipes are culled from Ricardo’s website and I’ve had great success with Hélène Laurendeau’s cheddar muffin recipe in the past. But I wouldn’t be a Ptito if I didn’t like messing with bacon, so for Sunday, I decided to tweak the recipe a bit, and add bacon. And maple syrup to my bacon, since, you know, it’s timely.
Yield: 24 mini muffins
For the bacon:
1 lb. of (ethically raised) bacon
1/4 cup maple syrup
A pinch of freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
I like to cook my bacon in the oven to minimise splatter and also because I always burn it in the pan and am a purist that doesn’t believe the microwave serves a purpose other than reheating leftovers.
- Spread bacon on a baking sheet and preheat oven to 375°C.
- Simmer maple syrup and nutmeg on low heat in a saucepan until thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Drizzle the maple syrup on the bacon and cook for 15-30 minutes, or until desired crispness.
- Make muffins according to directions and fold in chopped up bacon before dividing batter among muffin tins.
For the muffins:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. maple sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
375 ml (1 ½ cups) grated very sharp cheddar cheese
125 ml (½ cup) fromage frais
125 ml (½ cup) applesauce
60 ml (¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 400 °F. Line the mini muffin cups with paper or silicone liners.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, maple sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the grated cheese.
- In another bowl, combine the eggs, fromage frais, applesauce, and butter. Add to the dry ingredients and mix just enough to moisten the flour. Stir in the chopped maple bacon.
- Spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.