Time is always has a role to play in the kitchen; we either want dinner in a hurry, or we luxuriate in the task of a long braise or something bubbling slowly in a crock pot. And of course, there are myriad experiences in between, both mundane and grand and everything in between. The best recipes capture time and transform it into something delicious. To wit: I had these ground cherries kicking around in the fridge for a while from Rolling Hills Farm. Some of them had started to turn a little worse for wear, so it was time to do something constructive with them, other than snatch random handfuls out of the fridge, as I had been doing.
Ground cherries are a cousin to tomatillos; they share the same telltale papery husk that surrounds them. I wish I had bought more, enough to make a jam or something more concentrated with the flavors. These cherry-berry ginger muffins come pretty close. This recipe is adapted from the one that's on the back of the Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten-free flour blend, with some substitutions and amendments; I added the zest and juice of half a lemon, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and used coconut oil instead of butter, because I was curious and because I didn't have any softened butter. (It's warm in my kitchen, so coconut oil is currently at the consistency of softened butter, a.k.a., perfect for immediate baking.) Using a combo of refined and unrefined coconut oils means you won't get an overwhelming coconut taste, as I have some coconut skeptics in my house. However, it's healthy, so I like to sneak it in when I can.
A couple of caveats: I can't guarantee the flavor outcome if you use something else. Ground cherries have a pretty singular flavor. I also realize that giving a recipe for something that's likely out of season runs counter to much of what I do here, but the recipe stands on its own. If for some reason you discover this after the season and you have some in your freezer, or next year, consider yourself prepared. In the interim, you might try using something else with a bright, citrus-y feel, like chopped mango or dried pineapple, with the blueberry and ginger. Or you might just double the blueberry amount, and that would be fine, too. There's nothing wrong with the combo of blueberries, lemon zest and chopped crystallized ginger. If you want to make these as regular muffins, swap out the GF blend for all-purpose (AP) flour; you may need to add more leavening, too. Just keep an eye on how liquidy the batter seems as you're putting it together, as GF and AP flour won't absorb liquid in the same way, and the GF blend I used has xanthan gum built in, too, which affects the outcome.
2 cups all-purpose GF flour blend
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup organic granulated sugar (I am so digging this lately; it has so much more depth)
1/2 cup coconut oil (I used a combo of refined and unrefined; do as you wish or use softened unsalted butter)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large organic eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (or DIY it like I usually do, with a dash of apple cider vinegar)
3/4 cup ground cherries
1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
Decorative sugar of your choice, for sprinkling on top, like this one.
Preheat the oven to 450° F. and line a 12- cup muffin tin or butter and flour it. You will likely need to go into a second tin; this recipe yields 16.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour blend, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the oil and the sugar at medium speed. The mix won't look the same as it might if this were butter; it will look more coarse and wet. However, when you add the vanilla extract, followed by the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated at medium speed, you'll see this will transform into a more familiar batter. You may have to periodically stop the mixer and scrape down the sides.
On low speed, add the flour alternated by the buttermilk until it's come together. Add the cherries, blueberries and ginger, and stir together with a spatula to combine. Drop by 1/4 cup scoop into the prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle the crunchy sugar of choice on top, if desired.
Put the muffin tin(s) into the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 375. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until the tops are lightly browned. I have a convection oven, so it makes quick work of things like muffins. Mine took about 20-25 minutes. I'd check it around 20 just to be safe.
Yield: About 16 muffins, which will keep well for a few days, if covered in an air-tight container.