Monday, August 11, 2014

Blackberry Date Buckwheat Muffins #MuffinMonday #GlutenFree #Vegan

With dates for sweetness, coconut cream for richness and fresh blackberries mixed through, these muffins may not be the best looking on the block but they sure are tasty.

We’ve raised our daughters to follow their hearts and find their own ways, while guiding them in what we think is right. But I tell you true, this learning thing goes both ways. I value their opinions and really do try to listen when they send me links or tell me about things I should know or reconsider. Both of them now eat mostly vegetarian fare, limiting their meat consumption to the rare burger (no pun intended) and special occasions. They have friends who eat only vegetarian with a vegan or two in the mix. Add in a gluten-free friend or three, some my own, and all of this has made me more open to trying new dishes and new methods and even some substitutions that I would never have considered four or five years ago. I’m still not a fan of most of the faux meats but, I've discovered, prepared properly, they can be delicious. (If you are ever in the Boston area, I can highly recommend a little Thai place called My Thai Vegan Cafe, where every dish we’ve tried is fabulous. My only complaint was that the curry “duck” didn’t have enough sauce, because it was that good.)

Our younger daughter is in London now for an eight-week internship and it has given her a chance to catch up with some old friends from our Kuala Lumpur years. She and her roommate took the train down to Brighton to see the sights, pick some blackberries and hang out. I understand there was a great deal of laughing over old photos as well. We were chatting yesterday and she told me about the wonderful vegan buckwheat pancakes that they had made for breakfast one morning, using dates, coconut milk and some of those blackberries. That was all the inspiration I needed for this morning’s muffins.

If you’ve never baked with buckwheat before, it’s pretty dark and, I must admit, doesn’t make the prettiest muffin. Even using half buckwheat and half white gluten-free flour, these guys are very dark, which I am sure was not helped along by the pureed dates and mashed blackberries. Maybe I’m blaming buckwheat flour when the dates are really more responsible! But the bottom line is that they weren’t heavy and actually have a light texture. If the color puts you off, just close your eyes and bite!

Adapted from this recipe for Vegan Buckwheat Pancakes.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups or 355ml coconut cream (unsweetened)
1 cup or 145g dates, pitted (weight with pits = about 5 3/4 oz or 165g
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup or 150g fresh blackberries or berry of your choice
1 cup or 130g buckwheat flour
1 cup or 150g gluten-free white flour blend (I use Dove Farms.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Optional: 1-2 tablespoons pearl sugar for decorating before baking

Method
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by greasing it or lining it with paper muffin cups.

Pit your dates, if they haven’t come already pitted, by slicing them open with a sharp knife and pushing the pit out.

Process them in a blender or food processor with the coconut cream until they are reduced to mostly small pieces. The occasional larger bit is okay, in fact, possibly desirable for added texture and chewiness in the muffin. (This, according to my daughter. She suggested adding even more chopped dates but I decided that the blackberries were enough.)



In a large mixing bowl, combine your flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

That's the buckwheat flour on the right, peeking out from under the baking soda, baking powder and salt. Apparently buckwheat, despite its name, has no relation to wheat but comes from the rhubarb family. Who knew?!




In a small bowl, mash your blackberries lightly with a fork and cut any really large ones in half.

Add in the blended date/coconut cream mixture and mix well with the fork.



Pour the wet ingredients into your dry and stir until well blended.



Divide the batter between the muffin cups.



Top with pearl sugar to decorate, if desired.

I know, I know, it doesn't really help their looks but I was trying!

Bake for 15-20 minutes. You can’t really tell doneness by golden color with these, so test if an inserted toothpick comes out clean.



Remove from the pan to cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

An inside shot! 

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