Zucchini bread was one of the first things I learned how to bake from scratch. It was super moist, full of oils, and topped with a mound of cream cheese frosting. My 20-year-old self was in love. Nowadays, especially since I bake so often, I try to look for healthier options. These apple zucchini muffins are the perfect compromise — with their oat crumble topping and dollop of sweetened crème fraîche, that super-rich cream cheese frosting is hardly missed.
This recipe is a great way to incorporate both late-summer zucchini and the first apples of autumn. The zucchini adds moisture and is a great way to sneak in an extra serving of vegetables. Because they stay so moist and are quite portable, these muffins are perfect for eating on-the-go or a quick breakfast — or at least that is how I've been enjoying them all week. They would probably make for a great after school snack, too!
The warm spices add depth to the flavor as well as a hint of nostalgia. The sun is still out, yet I am starting to day-dream of fall. The oat topping is reminiscent of an ooey, gooey fruit crumble, yet not as messy. The added crunch pairs nicely with the smooth crème fraîche. Feel free to sweeten up the crème fraîche as much as you please, although the slight tang contrasts with the other flavors perfectly.
Apple Zucchini Muffins
For the muffins:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup grape seed oil, canola oil, or other neutral-flavored oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 large egg
1 yolk from a large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup shredded zucchini, drained and squeezed (see Recipe Note)
1/2 cup diced apple (diced small)
For the oat crumble:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup quick oats
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
For the crème fraîche:
3/4 cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup cupcake or muffin tin with liners and set aside. Sift together the dry ingredients for the muffins and set aside.
In the stand of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, oil, and applesauce. Add in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Mix until combined. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two batches, making sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl in between additions. Fold in the zucchini and diced apples. Divided the batter evenly between the muffin cups.
For the oat crumble, stir together the butter and brown sugar in a small mixing bowl. Add in the oats, cinnamon, and flour until evenly combined. The mixture should be crumbly and not too wet.
Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of the oat mixture on top of each muffin (unbaked). Bake in the oven for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of a muffin.
Before serving, mix together the crème fraîche and honey to taste.
- Use a spring-loaded ice cream or cookie scoop to evenly distribute the batter between liners.
- If oat crumble is too wet, add in a bit more flour, one teaspoon at a time.
- Be sure to squeeze out as much liquid from the zucchini as possible before getting started. Try squeeze the water out over a mesh sieve, squeezing and pressing the liquids out by pressing the zucchini against the side of the sieve with a rubber spatula.