What is a super-fruit?
When you hear the word Cranberry what comes to your mind? An Irish rock band formed in Limerick in 1989? An initially white berry, that turns deep red on ripening, bounces like a miniature ball and floats in water? a very tart little berry, also known as ‘bitter berry, American berry or bear berry’ but considered an all star food and one of the most unique fruits in the world? A fruit that was used by sailors as a source of vitamin C to prevent scurvy, a gum & skin disease? a fruit, found primarily in North America, grown in bogs, and related to blueberry, buckberry, huckleberry, and bilberry? or are you just thinking of 100% Cranberry juice?
I am not thinking about the band, although I love the song Dream by The Cranberries. I am thinking about the tart little berry, used to produce 100% cranberry juice and other juice blends and also sold frozen, sweetened dried, concentrated, as a sauce or powdered. The one that is consumed in large amounts during ‘Thanksgiving Week‘, about 80 million pounds are consumed in the US alone.
If you’ve been drinking Cranberry Juice Cocktail, then beware, because according to Wikipedia there is one teaspoon of sugar per ounce of cranberry juice cocktail. This means, it’s more highly sweetened than soda drinks and has been linked to obesity. So why is cranberry called a super-fruit? It has got high levels of vitamins C, K and E, fibre, manganese and is also an excellent source of anti-oxidants. A lot of research is undergoing to confirm anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits amongst other documented benefits.
Today I want to share the recipe for Cranberry Chocolate Chip Muffins, made using sweetened dried cranberries, and baked at temperatures above 400°F (204°C) so don’t expect any vitamin C in the muffins, but you can buy the fresh fruits during fall season and keep them for up to 20 days in your fridge or freeze them for several years, so there will be no “it’s–a-seasonal-fruit” excuse. You can use the frozen one’s during off-season. I really enjoyed eating the muffins. The blend of tarty and sweet was awesome. Hope you’ll enjoy them too!
Cranberry Chocolate Chip Muffins
Preparation time: 15 minutes; Baking time: 20-25 minutes; Makes: 14 muffins
- 300g (2¼ cups, 10oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
- 4 level teaspoons baking powder
- 185g (1 cup, 5oz) soft brown sugar
- 150g (1 cup, 5½) chocolate chips
- 60g (½ cup, 2½oz) sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
- 150g (½ cup + 2tbsp, 5oz, 1¼ sticks + 1 tablespoon) butter, melted
- 300ml (1¼ cup, 10floz) milk
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 410°F (210°C). Brush a medium, 12-hole muffin tin with melted butter or oil or use paper cases, if preferred.
- Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in sugar, chocolate chips and cranberries. Make a well in the centre of the mixture.
- Combine butter, milk and egg and add to the well, all at once. Mix lightly, until just combined (do not over mix). The batter should look quite lumpy.
- Spoon mixture evenly, into prepared tin. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden. Set aside for 5 minutes, then loosen muffins with a flat bladed knife or spatula and transfer onto a wire rack to cool.
- Variations: other dried fruits, a punnet of blueberries, sliced fresh strawberries, mashed banana. I leave it to your imagination.
- **I weigh the flour and butter, I do not use cup measures as the weight of a cup of flour tends to vary based on individual interpretation or publication or size of the cup, (from 125g to 130g to 155g per cup).
- Flour cup conversions based on 1 cup = 125g flour so that would be the US cup of 240ml, not the Australian Cups.
Points to Note
- Please note that oven temperatures are given as a guideline only. You may need to add or reduce the suggested temperature depending on your oven. I baked the muffins at 425°F (220°C) for 22 minutes.
- I always weigh ingredients, especially the flour and butter. You can use cup measures, but please note if you scoop flour directly from the bag you will end up with 150-185 g of flour instead of the recommended 125g. I suggest you spoon the flour into the cup, heaping it up over the top, then slide a knife across the top to level off the extra. Be careful not to shake or tap the cup to settle down the flour or you will have more than you need. You can also sift the flour first then scoop. My best advice: please use a weighing scale.
- Be careful, brown sugar tends to form lumps, if it sits for too long in your pantry (cupboard).
- These muffins are not too sugary. If you prefer more sugar, add as appropriate to suit your palate.