Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"Splendid" Muffins

I love a good muffin--a fluffy, vanilla-flavored concoction just filled to the brim with blueberries, strawberries, chocolate chips, whatever strikes your fancy. Sometimes, though, in the name of healthy living, we must cut back on the sugar. I know, I know, I'm a baker, I'm not supposed to be anti-calories, and I'm not... but an effort to reduce the calories in an old favorite can never hurt.

Enter Splenda. I've always been a fan of Splenda because it's nice and sweet and because it doesn't have an unpleasant aftertaste. When I was in the store a couple of days ago, I noticed a bag of Splenda "Granular" on the shelf and decided to buy a small bag and give it a try. Although it is very, very different in texture and density to sugar (it looks a bit like snow), it measures cup for cup in recipes. Muffins and quick breads are especially noted on the bag, so I figured that there would be no better way to test Splenda Granular than with a nice blueberry muffin.

I used my regular muffin recipe--after I put the muffins the oven, I noticed a blueberry muffin recipe on the back of the bag, haha!--adding a bit of baking soda (probably unnecessary) and a touch of honey (to help browning). When the muffins came out of the oven, their tops were craggy, almost sconelike, but the interior was very, very nice. Given a sugar-laden muffin, I would not have been able to tell the difference, and I could pronounce my Splenda experiment a success.

Even if you don't have Splenda on hand, this recipe is a great basic muffin, but I would especially recommend it to be made with Splenda if you're watching calories. One muffin here has at most 175 calories, according to my calculations. I'm not one for healthy baking, but this was a nice change of pace!

Splendid Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12.

280 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Splenda Granular sugar substitute (or granulated white sugar)
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey (omit if using sugar)
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1 cup blueberries

** Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. **

1. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in blueberries, and set aside.
2. In large bowl, whisk together Splenda (or sugar), butter, eggs, and honey.
3. Whisk in milk until smooth.
4. Gently add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and mix until just combined.
5. Divide batter among muffin cups and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached.
6. Let cool completely on wire rack before serving.

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