I tend to go into hibernation mode at the first hint of fall. The looming cold weather inspires me to welcome people over and hole up for the night. Whether it's sitting around a fire pit into the late hours of the evening or to lingering over a hearty breakfast on a chilly weekend morning, I just can't think of a better way to spend time with my closest friends.
I especially love when these visits turn into overnight stays. The Southern hostess in me (and further proof that I am my mother's daughter) kicks in and brings out my over-nurturing side. All of a sudden I have to dote on my guests' every need—I pile extra blankets and fluffy towels on their bed and light a favorite candle to permeate their room. I keep a pile of fresh fruit and homemade granola on the kitchen island (for easy access), and make sure that a hot pot of coffee is ready and waiting to go.
Which brings us to these muffins. In my desire to please, I am always seeking out new and delicious recipes to wow my guests (yes, my mother included). Surely I am not the only one constantly in search of the best breakfast casserole or the secret to the fluffiest pancakes? I've been looking for the perfect hearty, healthy muffin recipe for quite some time, but I had a lengthy list of requirements it had to meet. Most I had tried, had failed.
Finally, I took matters into my own hand. I had sampled a few versions of Morning Glory Muffins, a recipe originally made famous when published in Gourmet in 1981, and it was almost exactly what I was looking for. A few tweaks here and there—the addition of olive oil, flax powder, bananas, and molasses to name a few—and I made the recipe my own.
The resulting muffins are oh-so-moist, nutty, and sweet all at the same time. They are healthy enough to enjoy for breakfast, but rich enough to feel like you're getting a treat. They're the kind of snack you can proudly leave out for houseguests to nibble, no matter the time of day. Now I only have one problem: I need some friends to come over ASAP, because there are a lot (and I mean a whole lot) of test muffins on my counter just ready to be eaten.
Whole Grain Morning Glory Muffins
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large carrots, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 large eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 16-standard size muffin cups or fill with liners and lightly grease.
In a large bowl, whisk the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, ground flaxseed, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and ginger. Add the carrots, apple, coconut, pecans, and cranberries and stir until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, bananas, canola oil, olive oil, molasses, and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Divide the batter evenly among the 16 muffin cups.
Bake the muffins for about 22-24 minutes, until golden brown but still just slightly undercooked in the center (they will finish cooking while cooling). Rest the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)