There are a few things I lament about my past life – that season I call B.C. (Before Children). Now that I am a mom of three children, all under the age of 5, I miss being able to just meet up with friends on a whim. I miss just having to grab my skinny wallet and go to the market without having to drag an army of strollers out (I’m an expert at pushing one Maclaren double stroller + a single Bugaboo stroller at the same time). I miss cooking without having to change diapers or to wipe spilt milk in between – in other words, cooking without interruption. Most of all, I miss travelling.
I’m a vagabond at heart, and I’ve always seen myself as a traveller. My husband and I love exploring the world and going on adventures. But now that we have three children, I just feel lucky if we even make it out the door on time! Kidding aside, it’s been quite a busy five years for us, wherein I feel like we are just continuously entrenched in raising kids. Mind you, I love every moment of it, especially when I see their eyes light up like this…
I’ve already accepted that this is how life is going to be in the next how many years…But the really wonderful thing is that my children open me up to a whole new world of adventures. That’s enough for me right now. I look forward to, one day, travelling with my kids and sharing with them the world that I love.
You know what else I love (aside from my family and travelling, of course)? I love waking up with the morning sun softly streaming through the window…and the aroma of freshly baked goods wafting into my dreams…that moment of peace before the kids come barging in…!
Let me tell you, if you want a nice morning surprise, these blueberry hazelnut muffins will do the job! Don’t be fooled, these are not just ordinary blueberry muffins! The addition of hazelnuts imparts a buttery, slightly bittersweet flavour and a richer texture. Research shows that roasting hazelnuts increases their flavour tenfolds, so don’t even think about using raw ones. To take it one step farther, if you can find Piedmontese hazelnuts from Italy, don’t even have second thoughts – use them!
And one more thing: these muffins are already programmed to be made into GLUTEN-FREE goodies (these one I made are the gluten-free version)! Simply replace the all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill is a wonderful brand) and retain the same amount of hazelnut flour. Then add 1-1/4 teaspoons of xanthan gum or guar gum to your gluten-free flour. As a general rule, use 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum or guar gum per cup of gluten-free flour you use. If you do not add the gum, your gluten-free baked goods will crumble. Also, make sure that your baking powder is gluten-free, if you are going that route!
Finally, to add a sweet highlight to these muffins, I stirred in some hazelnut sugar crumble, made simply by grinding roasted hazelnuts and coarse turbinado sugar together. When baked into these muffins, it gives a crunchy, chewy, sweet finish to each bite. Don’t miss this detail!
- 1 cup (4 oz / 100 g) roasted hazelnuts
- 2½ cups (10 oz / 275 g) all-purpose flour + more for dusting blueberries (or use same amount of gluten-free flour + 1½ teaspoons xanthan gum)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- ⅔ cup (3 oz / 75 g) confectioner's sugar
- ¾ (6 oz / 170 ml) milk
- ¼ cup (2 oz / 55 g) butter, melted and cooled
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz / 55 ml) roasted hazelnut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1¼ cups (10 oz / 275 g) fresh blueberries
- 1 cup (4 oz / 100 g) roasted hazelnuts, ground
- 4 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 F or 200 C degrees.
- Using a food processor, pulse hazelnuts in bursts of 3 seconds until they are ground.
- Sift the all-purpose flour and add the ground hazelnut, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Mix well.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix eggs with sugar, milk, butter, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix to combine well. (You can also do this by hand).
- Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and fold quickly.
- Toss the blueberries in flour until just coated* then gently fold into the batter. Do not over mix.
- Using a cookie or ice cream scooper, fill the muffin tins about ⅔ full.
- Pulse the rest of the hazelnuts with the turbinado sugar until finely chopped. Sprinkle over the batter in each muffin tin.
- Bake in the middle shelf for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tester inserted comes out clean.
- Serve warm. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.