I love working in the kitchen, carefully leveling flour in a measuring cup, and then defiantly flicking in one more pinch to make it look the way I want. I relish the occasional tap of a pot lid that has been briefly lifted by the fragrant steam it is holding in. Standing at the counter listening to liquids bubbling or smelling a pastry baking, I often feel the corners of my mouth begin to twitch. With a grin on my face and egg yolk on my apron I am a scientist. I start with a vague idea, think about what I am going to combine, make a hypothesis, conduct an experiment, and finally evaluate the result.
The more I bake, the more I feel comfortable replacing or reducing the butter and oil in baked goods with various fruit and vegetable purees. The spices and hearty grain flavors really shine when they are uninsulated by the fat molecules. The down side has been losing out on familiar crisp edges, and crunchy tops. I also like to try different sugar substitues and have found that they work in some recipes but not others. Finally, messing around with leavening agents can really alter the texture of a pastry. All this science is precisely how my attempt to make a firm oatmeal cookie with a crisp edge and morsels of fresh rhubarb turned into a light and fluffy muffin top. A fun experiment with a tasty conclusion.
I tried to resist the urge to bake with my bundle of rhubarb but my resolve lasted all of three days. By Wednesday I could no longer keep from grabbing the flour and mixing bowls. I just wanted to make a little oatmeal cookie. A harmless and healthy ode to the crimson stalks I gathered from the farmers' market. My list of ingredients seemed like they would turn out a lovely firm cookie but I played a little too fast and loose with my kitchen chemistry.
Fresh from the oven, it was clear that my hypothesis did not match the results. The cookies came out fluffy and soft and tasting more strongly of cinnamon and banana than rhubarb. This deliciously unexpected pastry was best summed up by my teenage brother. "Huh. It's like bread, in the shape of a cookie." Thus was born the Rhubarb Muffin Top. Call it a cookie or a muffin. The sweet flavor and bursts of rhubarb make it a little something to nibble with breakfast or as a snack.
I almost wasn't going to share the recipe. BUT - a happy accident took these little stump-less muffins and transformed them into something so much greater than the sum of their parts. The addition of a dollop of yogurt and a little citrus zest transformed them into MOONPIES! (Okay traditionalists - not a real Moon Pie but the same idea.) As a sandwich, the Muffin Tops became a sweet, creamy, mouthful of snack-time goodness. So much goodness that I thought you might like to try the experiment for yourself.
Rhubarb Muffin Tops
These fluffy little pastries can be enjoyed as a flavorful compliment to a hearty breakfast or munched alone as a sweet snack. To make a tempting "MoonPie" sandwich spoon 1 - 2 tablespoons of thick yogurt between two Muffin Tops. Inspired by, Fresh Strawberry Oatmeal Cookies. Makes 40 Muffin Tops.
- 2 cups of uncooked rhubarb diced into ½ inch pieces, tossed with 3 TB Splenda and set aside.
- 1 cup of all purpose flour
- 1 cup of wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup oats, not quick cook
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
- ¼ cup soy milk or low fat milk
- ⅔ cup mashed banana
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare baking sheet(s) with parchment or silicone baking mat(s)
- In a small bowl, toss together the diced rhubarb and Splenda and leave to stand while preparing the batter.
- Sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and spices before whisking in the oats.
- In a new bowl (large enough to hold the finished batter), whisk together the oil, sugars, milk, banana, and vanilla.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet about ⅓ at a time so the flour doesn't puff all over. Once blended stir in the rhubarb and any juices that have collected in the bowl.
- Scoop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets using about 1 tablespoon of batter per muffin top. Leave some room for them to spread. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes per batch until golden on top.
- Allow the baked muffin tops to cool slightly on the pan before transferring to a wire wrack to finish cooling.
Approximate Nutritional Info (using soy milk): 62 calories, 1.8 g fat, 10 g carbs., 1 g fiber, 1 g protein, PP = 2
Oh, and the oatmeal cookie recipe has been reworked, omitting both the fruit substitutes and sugar substitutes. The result is pretty rockin' and the recipe is coming soon!