Given their awkward shape and bigger-is-better/more-is-more approach to mix-ins and streusel toppings, muffins are not typically what I'd call elegant. (One of the human body's least elegant parts is named after them, in case you need further proof.) But low and behold, if you make muffins in a standard size muffin tin and flavor them with two extremely elegant ingredients like pears and cardamom, they become quite elegant indeed. (When I personify them, pears become a languid French woman and cardamom, a lithe Swedish skier. Just me?)
These muffins are extremely straightforward to put together. Unlike some recipes, they do require creaming together butter and sugar, but even with that step, the batter comes together in about 6 minutes. Buttermilk keeps the crumb moist and helps to offset the earthy flavors. To further balance the cardamom, which can be strong, especially if you grind it straight from the pod, I added just a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.
The muffins are light and tender of crumb and a bite that marries the pear with cardamom has a sweet, fruity, lightly spiced flavor. They make a great breakfast that won't send you crashing from a sugar high, and pair nicely with green tea.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 large pear, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line muffin cups with paper liners or grease with butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Add 1/2 dry ingredients to bowl, followed by buttermilk, then the remaining dry ingredients. Stir together just until last of flour mixture is incorporated. Stir in diced pears.
Divide batter between muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full. Bake until golden on top and a cake tester inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Muffins are best on the day that they're made, but you can store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
stand mixer, 12 cup muffin tin, muffin tin liners (optional)