This recipe is similar to my Mocha Chip Muffins; it's a recipe that I use for commercial purposes, scaled down to a manageable size for your personal enjoyment. It ought to yield about a dozen (depending on the size of your muffin pan) spicy, fruit-flavored muffins to open your eyes after an excessive night out. Don't pay any attention to those cookbooks that say you have to bake your muffins right away--this one can be mixed the night before and stored in the fridge for muzzy morning bake-off.

Note: This is a lot easier with an electric mixer or beater so, if you have one, set it up; if not, find a wire whisk and be prepared to beat the crap out of your arm muscles.

Wet Ingredients

3                 Eggs
11 ounces         Sugar
1 cup             Canola oil or safflower oil
1 cup             Ricotta cheese
2 cups            Apple sauce

Beat the eggs and sugar together until they are a paler shade of yellow and a little thick. Add the oil and beat for another minute. Stir in the rest of the wet ingredients, one at a time, until all are mixed together well.

Dry Ingredients

1 pound              All-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoon          Baking powder
1 teaspoon           Baking soda
1 teaspoon           Salt
1 teaspoon           Cinnamon
1 teaspoon           Nutmeg
½ teaspoon           Powdered ginger
4 ounces             Dried cherries

If you can't find dried cherries at your market, try canned pie cherries--throw in a handful or so. What the hell.....extra pie cherries are great to eat out of the can. Also, if you have whole apples, you can peel and core them, then purée them in a blender; varying the chunkyness of the apple purée will change the texture of the muffins. Saucier apples will give a tender, more cake-like muffin; drier, crumbly muffins are the result of chunkier apples.

Sift all the dry ingredients (except the cherries, of course) together into a large bowl. Stir the cherries in with your hand and scoop out a well in the middle. Pour in the wet ingredients and stir until just mixed.

The wells of your muffin pan should be lined with paper muffin cups or greased with a vegetable oil spray. Fill each well almost to the top and bake your muffins at 375°F for 20-30 minutes or until the tops are springy to touch.

I always garnish the tops of these, before baking, with thin-sliced almonds.

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