This is a delicate, flavor-packed, nutrient-rich muffin that takes advantage of the grinding power of the food processor, but doesn't take away from the tender crumb of a muffin. With chunks of figs, hazelnuts, and oats, this muffin passes for breakfast, but nothing beats it warm out of the oven with a pat of butter.
Using a food processor to make muffins is admittedly quite unusual, but it works well, as long as you don't overmix or over-pulse after the wet ingredients enter the picture. Additionally, using a food processor to make muffins means one bowl, but it also makes a big batch manageable. Be gentle when pulsing and you will be rewarded with muffins that taste great and will satisfy any morning yen or after-school snack craving.
One-Bowl Food Processor Muffins with Oats, Figs, and Hazelnuts
Makes 12 muffins
1/2 cup (60 grams) hazelnuts
1 cup (102 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup (75 grams) dried Mission figs, stems removed
1 1/3 cups (174 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (144 grams) dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 stick (1/2 cup/114 grams/4 ounces/8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons (14 grams) molasses
1 teaspoon (5 grams) vanilla bean paste (see Recipe Notes)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Line a 12-cup nonstick muffin pan with paper liners.
Place the hazelnuts on the rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 4 to 5 minutes, until toasted. Transfer the nuts, while still hot, into a kitchen towel, and rub the nuts for about 2 minutes to remove the skins. Not every nut will be skinless. Set the nuts aside.
Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the rolled oats for 20 seconds. Add the hazelnuts and process for 25 to 30 seconds. Add the figs and process in 6 (1-second) pulses.
Remove the top of the processor and add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and egg. Cover and pulse in 4 (1-second) pulses to combine.
Add the melted butter, milk, molasses, and vanilla and pulse for 2 (1- second) pulses only, just to combine. Do not overmix (overmixing results in tunneling and toughness!).
Scoop 1/2 cup of the mixture into each muffin cup. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are crusty and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 4 to 5 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Gently remove from the pan and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Vanilla bean paste is a form of vanilla flavoring that is made from vanilla extract and vanilla bean powder (sometimes it's what's left over from producing the extract and sometimes fresh vanilla bean seeds), mixed with a binder such as sugar syrup, corn syrup, or in commercial preparations, xanthan gum. It has the consistency of a paste and an intense, distinctly vanilla flavor. If you can't find it use 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract for 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste. For quantities over 1 teaspoon, they cannot be directly substituted one for the other.