Today is one of those chilly, breezy days where everything smells fresh and familiar. As though everything you see is a memory of something wonderful, long forgotten. It’s the kind of day that makes me think of my childhood and my favorite things to do as a kid. One of which was cooking with my Grandmother. This past christmas she and my Grandfather gave me a recipe box that they made from crab bushel wood (they live on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia). The box is filled with my grandmothers recipes. It’s really an adult treasure chest.
Going with the sentiment of the day I decided to whip out the recipe box and choose something to whip up. I chose my Grandma’s Pecan Pie Muffins. They are chewy, crunchy, buttery, nutty goodness. They aren’t too similar to regular muffins – they aren’t as dense, there is no “top of the muffin” and they don’t really rise that much. BUT they are freaking amazing and, for me, a perfect way to travel back to my grandma’s kitchen
Grandma Aurora’s Pecan Pie Muffins (made Gluten-free):
1 cup chopped raw pecans
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill All-purpose)
1 heaping tsp baking powder
sprinkle of salt
2 large eggs
½ cup (1 stick) melted butter
splash of Grand Marnier (or other orange liquor, or vanilla extract, or experiment, or leave it out)
Combine the flour and sugar, add in the nuts and salt. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs until foamy/bubbly, then slowly drizzle in the melted butter whisking continuously (if you dump it all in at once you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Ew.)
Pour the egg mixture over the flour/nut mixture and stir to combine. Splash in your Grand Marnier and mix it in.
This is a very runny batter so don’t be scared if it looks different than other muffin batters…the emphasis is really on “Pie”.
Pour into a greased or paper lined muffin pan filling each section about ¾ full. These muffins don’t rise that much (even the non-gluten free version stays pretty low).
Cook in a 350’ F oven for 10-15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and perfectly crunchy looking.
This batch makes twelve muffins.
One of my favorite things about my Grandmother is how she always remembers good stories and little details about everybody. For example, she always has honey out for me in the morning to go with my coffee even though I’m the only only one who drinks it that way. She also gives the absolute best presents and somehow makes them even more special than the inherit specialness (yes that’s a word). On my recipe box she added a reminder of a very funny afternoon I spent with them down in Virginia.
We were eating lunch on their front porch under a giant umbrella when we noticed a tree frog perched high up on the shaft. We had been hearing this frog for a while, but couldn’t figure out where he was, so we were all very excited when we finally discovered him hiding in the umbrella. He seemed perfectly content to just hang out while we were eating and we went about preparing our lunch – wraps. I had a wrap layer on my palm to which I had just applied some mayo – I like more mayo than I should – and was reaching for the mustard…and that’s when Mr. Frog decided he didn’t want to be on the umbrella anymore, so he jumped down, landed on my chest and I smashed my mayo loaded wrap into my own face!
The frog hopped off of me and onto a tree branch before I even knew what happened, and of course the next ten mayo-covered minutes were spent in hysterics over the ridiculousness of the whole scene!
On top of my recipe box my Grandmother painted that green frog. Every time I see it I am both a smiling fool and have a strong desire to wash my face.
I really need to get back down to Virginia.