One thing that hasn't changed since childhood is that I love playing with food. As a cook, that now means using ingredients in ways as creative as my second-grade scaled reproduction of Europe in plaster of Paris. September always gets me thinking about back-to-school, and back-to-school means two things in the world of food: breakfast and snacks. These Carrot Muffins with Sweet Chèvre Icing fit into both categories.
Breakfast and snacks, though they bookend the school day, have one thing in common: they have to be whipped up in a hurry. I cut a few corners in this recipe by starting with cinnamon muffin mix. Then, I added those sunny, juicy, golden raisins that are so superior to the average red raisin, chopped, woodsy walnuts, and a rabbit’s patch of grated carrot for a healthy, hearty addition that will help alleviate homework-driven eye strain. But by far my favorite part is the cream cheese frosting laced with one of my favorite French cheeses: soft, fresh chèvre.
When I was a schoolgirl, I had the strange compulsion of never eating anything sweet for breakfast. In the mornings after getting the car out of the garage, my mom and I would take a minor detour and double park in front of a nearby market known for its breads, salamis, and olives. I would run in and buy an olive branch, a salty pretzel roll, or a Gruyere-stuffed croissant—it was the only way I could stand eating so early.
Now that I am grown up, I have expanded my horizons, but these muffins still capture the savory standards I loved so much growing up. Chèvre is mild, creamy, and tangy, which dramatically accentuates that delicious twang in the cream cheese icing. This combination may sound strange, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." I learned that at school, right after I finished my olive twist. So now I'll eat sweet things, and you’ll eat goat cheese, for breakfast.
- 1 box cinnamon muffin mix
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 batch Chèvre-Cream Cheese Icing (recipe below)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 ounces chèvre, room temperature
- 3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with 10 paper muffin liners.
Mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon in a big bowl. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon out nine or ten muffins into the tins. They will be filled nearly to the top.
Bake for 19 to 22 minutes, until the muffins are puffed and golden.
Allow muffins to cool in the tins for 5 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, spread the tops with some Chèvre-Cream Cheese icing, and embellish with a few pieces of chopped walnut, golden raisins, and a shower of cinnamon.
Use a hand blender to combine all ingredients until smooth.