I have moved 17 times, but it wasn’t until I ended up in Minneapolis that people started asking, “What are you doing here?” And truthfully, my answer is usually, “I don’t know.” I realize how this sounds, and I am certain about the way it is received, but I really don’t mean it that way. This is because, when asked that question, the girl behind these eyes and between these ears, whose roots lie on a mountaintop in Canada, asks herself, “What am I doing anywhere?” That semi-rural town in Ontario, now bustling with the noise of urban sprawl, houses some of my earliest memories. And going everywhere, away from the place I am from, the place where I first occurred, is fascinating to me.
As a little girl in that big, small town in Canada, my grandfather would take me to a farm minutes from his house and buy fresh, homemade muffins for our family. Nowadays, that place is fully staffed and bakes them in mass amounts, but back then, when we went, we knew of only one person behind the operation: The Muffin Lady. I don’t remember her, and I don’t even know that I’ve met her, but in our family, She was the person who made the muffins that my grandpa and I brought back for everybody.
Today, I find myself (perhaps unexpectedly) baking my own muffins in a small kitchen in a quaint house in a fantastic neighborhood in Minneapolis. Mine are a little bit more adventurous than the ones I picked out as a kid, but that’s how I like to do things, anyway. The world is my oyster, and if I want to put prunes, pistachios, and chocolate into my breakfast foods, you had better believe that it is going to happen.
Packed with great, buttery flavor and glistening with the glitter of sprinkled sugar, I admit that these are not the healthiest breakfast choice. The sweet depth of the prunes plays off the dark chocolate, begging for the rich saltiness of the pistachios. Fresh out of the oven, the chocolate and prunes melt, the pistachios crunch. All of this, suspended in fluffy, buttery batter so decadent it tastes like cake; this is breakfast fit for a queen. From experience, I can tell you that these pair well with a large, black cup of iced coffee and a little dose of nostalgia.
Prune, Pistachio, and Dark Chocolate Muffins
Makes 12 Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup prunes, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a muffin tin and set aside. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until yellow and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Beat in eggs. Stir in dry ingredients in two increments, alternating with the milk. Stir in prunes, pistachios, and chocolate until just combined. Use a 1/3 cup to scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle each muffin with more granulated sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick entered into the center muffin comes out clean.