Sunday, March 28, 2010

Clementine Muffins, or Morning Sunshine Muffins

Saying Clementine Muffins gets the job done - you know what you're eating. Morning Sunshine Muffins (Jenean's idea) is much more evocative of the lovely experience you will have while eating them.

Have you ever bought a big box or bag of clementines, and at first it is a delight, you are eating three a day and loving every bite, but by the time you're about two thirds of the way through, you are clementined out, and some of them are starting to go bad, and they begin to create anxiety in your household? That's where we were on Thursday evening. So we googled around a bit for ideas for what to do with clementines in a cooked capacity.

We found this recipe, at the beautiful blog smitten, which I believe is originally (or possibly only most famously) Nigella Lawson's. It calls for boiling several clementines in their skins (go look at smitten's beautiful photos of that process, I failed to take any) for 2 or sometimes 3 hours. I saw another recipe on orangette that was very similar, but used an orange and a lemon, and only boiled them for 30 minutes... Anyway - Friday night rolled around, I was all alone in the house and feeling anxious about the clementines, so I set them to boil, and turned them off after 30 minutes. Then Jenean got home and reminded me of the 3 hours in the other recipe, so we added more water and turned the heat back on... and we went and ate dinner, and watched some tv... and we forgot about those clementines. Not till a mysterious, possibly corn-dog-type smell began to waft from the kitchen did we realize what was happening - all the water had boiled off, and the bottom of the pan of clementines was scorching. Quel horreur. We felt terrible. What a waste of what we had thought was a process to SAVE those clementines from going to waste! Dad would be so mad!

We poured in a bunch of water, and joked about burnt sugar clementine cake, and Jenean went to bed. After a little while, I thought it couldn't hurt to at least take the next step, which is to drain the boiled clementines and grind them up, skin and all, in the food processor. Weirdly, the burned bits remained large and separate, and the orange clementine-y bits ground up into a pretty, dark orange paste. I pushed it through a mesh strainer to catch out all the black burned pieces, and sheepishly put it in the fridge.

The next day I decided the Clementine cake recipe, though thrilling, was not what was called for, considering it calls for expensive things like 3 cups of blanched almonds. I wasn't wasting all those nice nuts on burned clementines. So I modified the basic muffin recipe from the Joy of Cooking (not the old one, and not the newest one... the in-between one), and by George, they came out really really good! I mean, I'm going to make these all the time type good! They have such a nice round citrus flavor, without having to grate zest, or squeeze juice, or any of that, and they're really moist. You want to make these. And so without further ado, the recipe for...

Clementine AKA Morning Sunshine Muffins!

Boil 5 clementines in their skins (after removing any stickers, stems, etc and washing), in plenty of water for 1 hour (I really think that's enough). Try not to forget about them and burn them, but no big deal if you do!

Drain, and allow them to cool.  Cut into them to check for seeds, then grind them up into a paste in the food processor. For me this yielded about 1 cup, and it had the consistency of sour cream (up to this point can happen at least a day in advance, if not a lot more).
Have a 12 cup muffin tin ready, lined with paper liners, or just grease it up. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Measure out 3/4 cup of the clementine puree into a medium sized bowl and add and whisk together with:

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar

6 tbsp melted butter (or 4 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp oil)
1 tsp vanilla

in a large bowl meanwhile, whisk or sift together:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (if you don't have it, just do all A-P flour, I wouldn't sub regular whole wheat flour here)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ones, and as the Joy of Cooking says, "mix together with a few light strokes just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix; the batter should not be smooth." That's just so well said, I had to quote. Anyway, parcel out the batter into the cups, it should come almost to the top of the cup, when they bake the make nice domed tops. These took my oven about 21 minutes to bake... the recipe says to start checking after 12-15 minutes. You'll be able to see they're done when they're fully dry on top, even in the little cracks. Toothpick test them to make sure, and cool on wire racks.


  1. Literally just tried this recipe and they turned out great! The only part I changed was the addition of chocolate chips. I will be making these again the next time I have to use up those darned cuties!

  2. so glad to hear it, thank you for posting! And wow, chocolate chips is a brilliant addition, I'm totally doing that next time I make them (which will be very soon, have 4 clementines in the fridge just waiting around for something to happen to them).

  3. These are baking right now, hoping they taste as good as they smell! I added some diced fresh strawberries to the batter and boiled half a lemon with the clemintines- we'll see how they turn out!

  4. wonderful! let us know how it turns out!

  5. They are delicious!!!!!

  6. Thanks for this! I've been searching everywhere for something to use up my box of clementines, so happy I stumbled on your blog. They came out delicious (I completely swapped white whole wheat flour and cut the sugar quite a bit - I like my muffins heartier, just a personal preference) and added cinnamon and allspice. Between me and my husband they're almost gone anyway. Will be adding this recipe to the arsenal. :)

  7. hey Alicia! So glad you like them, it's awesome to hear - thanks for commenting! there's another version I did later:

    in case you want to check those out, see which you like best! I did actually try them again this year using a lot more raw clementines (maybe 4 regular sized, mine were tiny and I think I used 6) and leaving out the milk entirely - haven't had a chance to update, but it worked great!

  8. These were absolutely delightful! I've made three batches so far (basically every time I have left over clementines), and the third was my favorite. In one of your comments, you said you left out the milk, so I tried it. I took out the milk, upped the puree to 1 cup, and added a bit more sugar to balance out the added tartness -- maybe 3/4 cup. I used regular old whole wheat flour, since I didn't have whole wheat pastry flour, and just added less of that, only 2/3 cup instead of 1 cup. Also, I only went with two pinches of salt instead of a whole teaspoon. Anyway, I made mini-muffins and they only took about 10 minutes in the oven. So awesomely wonderful and a total favorite at work! Thank you for the lovely recipe. :)