Carrot and Hazelnut Muffins…with a hidden ingredient

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“The rule is flavor, and flavor rules.”

-Master Breadmaker Peter Reinhart

Okay, I won’t keep you in suspense, the hidden ingredient to these carrot and hazelnut muffins is…butternut squash! These muffins have another secret too…they are gluten-free! But they taste really good! That’s no secret :) A year ago I never thought that I would cook gluten-free foods. I’m not on a gluten-free diet, but I love the challenge of cooking gluten-free, especially in baking, where baked goods usually depend on the chemistry of gluten. I enjoy science, and gluten-free baking is like a science experiment for me, in addition to cooking in general. I realized that even if dishes are gluten-free–if it tastes good and makes you feel good, what’s the harm in that? Thus, I wholeheartedly subscribe to Peter Reinhart’s “Flavor Rule” where flavor determines what I enjoy in a dish, not labels–whether gluten-free or otherwise.

Now, back to the muffins. These butternut squash, carrot and hazelnut muffins were inspired by a recipe I found in Whole Living magazine. It is a great all-around muffin recipe with a nice soft and moist texture. They taste even better the next day, or days later. Makes for a great post-workout snack, after-work/school snack, or even as part of a quick breakfast (though I prefer more savory foods in the morning). I decided to use carrot instead of apple in the original recipe and it was definitely yummy. I think you can pretty much sub or add in ingredients like you would in a normal muffin or quick-bread recipe. Zucchini, banana, and chocolate, you’re next!

Update:  I’ve fixed some of the missing steps for the recipe and instructions below.

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Start off by making butternut squash purée. I just cut the squash in half lengthwise, scooped out the pulp and seeds and then roasted it flesh-side up in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 45-60 minutes until knife-tender. Then, I just ran it through the blender or food processor until smooth. You only need 1/2 cup for this recipe. For the leftover squash purée, find some other use. What do I often do with leftover ingredients? I toss it on a pizza! Lol. With some seasonings, the purée made a nice sauce for a pizza :)

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I couldn’t track down hazelnut flour so I just ground some hazelnuts in my blender. It was still not as fine as it could be so I blended the 1/2 cup hazelnut flour called for in the recipe with the 3/4 cup brown rice flour. I wonder how this would be if I subbed almond flour?

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Here’s the result:  a fine flour mix. It helps to grind those two flours together. The rest of the steps are easy, just like any other quick bread recipe. Combine the wet and dry ingredients together. But since it’s gluten free, you don’t need to be worried about over-mixing :D Be careful not to overdo it with the spices–it can over power the flavor in these muffins. I think it is because of the nut flour. I found that recipes with nut flours tend to do better with less spice, for some reason.

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Sprinkle some chopped hazelnuts, and these are ready for the oven. The batter has a nice orange tint.

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After the 18 minutes were up, I was very eager to get them out of the oven. Then I did the toothpick test, but the muffins were not ready yet.

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Here they are when they are done. I love the brown color on these muffins. They rose well too!

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Butternut Squash, Carrot, and Hazelnut Muffins

adapted from Whole Living

yields 12 mufins

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup hazelnut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butternut squash puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts (for topping)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Dry ingredients:  In a large bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, sorghum flour, hazelnut flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
  3. Wet ingredients:  In another bowl, whisk eggs for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Then whisk in the brown sugar, cane sugar, coconut oil, vanilla, and orange zest until thoroughly combined, whisking for about 2 minutes. Fold in the butternut squash puree.
  4. While mixing, slowly add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until well combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir until blended together. Then fold in the grated carrots until combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the paper-lined muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts and bake for about 18 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean and crumb-free. Cool on a wire rack. Serve and enjoy!

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These muffins were light, though I think they could have used more carrot, in my opinion. Next time I’ll add more and see what happens. But the texture was spectacular for a gluten-free baked good, I’ll tell you that. It was not as dense as a carrot cake, but not as light as a teacake. It was somewhere in the middle, which my husband and I enjoyed. I hope you enjoy them too!

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45 thoughts on “Carrot and Hazelnut Muffins…with a hidden ingredient

  1. Yum — those look like the perfect breakfast muffin! My one time experience with gluten free (and yegan) baking was a pan of white bean blondies. Worst. thing. ever. These look 100x better! =)

    • Wow thanks for the kind words. One muffin will fill you up pretty well even though they aren’t so big, so it is great for a quick breakfast. I’ve seen people make the black bean brownies, but never tried it. Too bad the blondies didn’t turn out well. It sounds interesting.

      • I saw a good video on youtube channel Yoyomax 12 on how to make black bean brownies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQOF6gXq7Xc She consistently has good recipes. Her version looked good and she said that they disappeared fast. She also said on the video that it was very chocolaty and the texture was a mix between fudgy and cake-like even without any flour. Looks like a good recipe. Let me know if you try it! I might do this soon.

  2. These look great. Butternut squash, who knew? I recently made Chocolate Mousse with butternut squash and it was great. You couldn’t taste the squash. Butternut squash may be the new hidden veggie. :)

    • Thanks Liz! Usually you would need xanthan or guar gums in gluten-free baking, but I was surprised that the texture of these muffins weren’t so different than normal muffins. Not dry at all and had those tunnels of bubbles like regular quick-breads. I guess butternut squash can work wonders :)

  3. Gee, little lady…I’d lean back and let you feed these to me all day long! They look heavenly. Thanks, Skip…

  4. Lots of nutrition in these muffins. Great recipe Samantha. I love the hazelnuts as well. Well OK you out did yourself. You created a whole new muffin. Lots of new recipes coming out for new uses with butternut squash. :)

    Chef Randall
    savorthefood.wordpress.com

  5. Pingback: St. Patrick’s Day inspired cupcakes | food flavor fascination

  6. Pingback: Green Smoothie Muffins and Pistachio Milk | food flavor fascination

  7. I discovered your blog site on google and check a few of your early posts. Continue to keep up the very good operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking forward to reading more from you later on!

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