Summer stone fruit serves as a sweet topping


Apricots are in season, and I love to use them in baked goods. I purchased a few ambercots at the farmers market a few weeks ago. Though they were delicious raw, I couldn’t eat them quickly enough, so I needed to find a recipe to use for the three I had left. Lucky for me, a recent edition of Bon Appétit contained a recipe for little apricot cakes.

As with most cakes, these proved to be a challenge at high altitude. Adding a couple tablespoons of flour usually helps keep cakes from sinking but, in this case, it made them more dense and muffin-like instead of being light like cakes. Next time I make these, I’ll stick to the original flour measurement and beat it for a shorter amount of time so the batter isn’t as stiff. Apricotmuffins2

I enjoyed the sweetness and slight tart flavor of the apricots on top. They provided a nice contrast to the lemony cake beneath them. The raw sugar sprinkled on top created a nice, sugary crust once they had cooled. They’re a nice summertime treat.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (use 1 teaspoon if at high altitude)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
2 apricots, halved, pitted, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat muffin cups with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in another medium bowl, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, lemon zest and vanilla and beat until combined.

With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Divide batter among muffin cups (cups will be only 1/3 full) and smooth tops. Top with apricot slices and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake until cakes are golden and a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 20–25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let pan cool 5 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack and let cool completely.

Just add chocolate for a more decadent muffin


I was craving chocolate last week. When I started thinking about what I should bake, those giant chocolate muffins from Costco came to mind. Except I didn’t want a muffin the size of my hand. I wanted little noshes I could keep on hand for a little while. Because “The Joy of Cooking” has my go-to muffin recipe, I thought I’d see what I could find in the way of chocolate muffins.

Baked goods with melted chocolate can be difficult to make at high altitude. In my experience in the year I’ve been here, I’ve found such treats are one of the most susceptible to collapsing during the baking process. I’ve had the outside cook and crisp before the inside fully cooks. I’ve also had the centers cave in. It has been a learning process. doublechocolatemuffins2

I couldn’t have asked for these to turn out any better than they did. The batter had a slightly stiff quality to it, which ultimately seemed to help them turn out well. I’ve also learned to spray the paper muffin cups with cooking spray so the muffins won’t stick to them. These are a decadent muffin that can either be a rich breakfast or a dessert for later in the day. Next time I’m craving chocolate muffins, this will be my go-to. No more searching for a better recipe.

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (use 1/2 teaspoon if at high altitude)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips

Melt chocolate and let cool.

Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Set aside.

Combine buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter in a large bowl until creamy. Gradually add and beat in brown sugar until lightened in color and texture, 4 to 5 minutes. Add egg and beat until mixed. Beat in the chocolate just until blended. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in two parts, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Stir in chocolate chips. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in 1 or 2 of the muffins comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes in the pan before removing to cool completely on a rack.