I was up in the attic the other day and I saw a bag of scented pine cones that I had bought for Christmas. They still smelled faintly of cinnamon. Then I began to wonder about how much pine cones are used as decorations at Christmas instead of being harvested for the nuts.
I started looking into information on pine nuts and found out that they are very difficult to harvest. In fact, the nuts are bad by the time the pine cone has fallen. Like the pecans, this nut was also a staple in the diet of Native American Indians hundreds of years ago. The tribes that harvested these were located between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada, originally referred to as the Great Basin.
Apparently, the Indians were on to something. The pine nut has 20 amino acids. In the list of the acids, eight are essential building blocks of protein.
The cake part of these muffins are flavored with lemon and honey. Also, included inside are honey roasted pine nuts. The topping is a honey lemon sauce sprinkled with pine nuts. The topping should be used only at the time of serving. Due to its honey content, it is sticky so if you are going to store the muffins, you definitely do not want to use the sauce. This recipe makes 1 dozen muffins.
Great Basin Muffins
Ingredients/Honey Roasted Nuts
3/4 cup pine nuts
2 tbs honey
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 tsp butter
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a baking sheet with foil and spray with non stick spray.
Then place all ingredients, except for pine nuts, in a microwave bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds. Then stir and microwave for another 20 seconds. By this time, the butter should be completely melted. Stir until all ingredients are blended and liquid is smooth. Then fold in the pine nuts, making sure they are completely coated.
Pour mixture onto foil and spread out so the nuts form an even layer. Then place in oven to bake for about 5 minutes. Remove pan and then stir the nuts. Repeat this process 3 more times and remove from oven to let cool. Once the nuts have cooled to room temperature, break them up so you have single separated nuts instead of clumps. If you are having sticking issues, that is ok. Once the nuts are broken up, cover and place in freezer until ready to use. This will keep them from clumping.
3/4 cup of honey roasted pine nuts
1 cup of honey yogurt
1/3 cup butter, melted at room temperature
1 tbs lemon zest
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbs honey
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare your muffin tin by using non stick spray on a paper towel and then coating the top edge of the cavities. You can either line with paper baking cups or spray the inside of the cavities with the non stick spray.
Beat together the eggs and the yogurt. Then stir in add the zest, juice and honey. Lastly, mix in the butter until all is smooth.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in the sugar until evenly combined. Form a well in the center and pour in the egg mixture. Stir until no more dry streaks remain. Then fold in the honey roasted pine nuts until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop batter into muffin cavities, filling 3/4 full. Place pan in oven and bake until tester comes out clean, about 12-15 minutes. Remove and transfer muffins to rack to cool.
These are ready to serve as is or store for eating at a later time. Should you opt to have the warm honey lemon sauce on top, the recipe is below.
Ingredients/Honey Lemon Sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp corn starch
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs powdered sugar
1/4 cup pine nuts (for sprinkling)
In a saucepan placed over medium high heat, add the honey and the lemon juice. Let come to a boil and then turn down heat. Let simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and then stir in cornstarch. Sift 1/4 of the powdered sugar into the mixture and stir until smooth. Continue adding the sugar in increments and stirring until it is all mixed in. Place a spoonful of the sauce on top of the muffins and sprinkle a few pine nuts over the sauce. Another option is to serve the sauce on the side for dipping pieces of the muffin into. You can back off the powdered sugar content if you prefer a stronger honey/lemon flavor.
**LAST YEAR: Ricotta Pancakes**