Tuesday, June 12, 2012

White chocolate muffins with salted cashews

There are parts of my brain that remain stuck in time. I've accepted the high price of gas and utilities but I'm always shocked that books and food cost so much.  There is a part of me has never died that felt rich when she had a few dollars to spend at a cheap novelty store in the mall on plastic Smurf and Snoopy figurines (collecting was very big in the 80s) .  Or on scratch n' sniff and glittery rainbow stickers. Or a Happy Meal.
Flickr: JarkkoS

My original intention for this blog post was to create a white chocolate muffin with macadamia nuts in tribute to the 80s.  Is there anything more 80s than walking through a mall in frosted acid-washed jeans eating a white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie from Mrs. Field's?  I never liked Orange Julius, but even then, at age nine, I felt a certain serenity that everything was right in the world as I passed one, followed by a Sam Goody which still sold 45s of Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl," and another store purveying t-shirts with puffy paint. In another ten years or so, no one will know what 'Side B' means.

Back then, macadamia nut white chocolate chip cookies seemed terribly exotic, a step above oatmeal raisin.  And muffins in various flavors also seemed quite daring in the 80s. In high school, after swim practice, I would get a huge container of Tasti-d-Lite for dinner, chased down with a 'fat free' chocolate cheese cake muffin and a peanut butter and jelly muffin from the local 7-11. I kind of knew that none of that stuff was as low calorie as it said on the label, but I deluded myself into thinking I had earned it swimming laps and it wasn't as terrible as eating the Haagen-Dazs peanut butter vanilla swirl I really wanted. And because the muffins were not blueberry (the kind my mother would buy), they tasted even better.

My recipe concept was to create a white chocolate macadamia muffin, the ultimate tribute to the definitive flavor combination and iconic pastry of the late 1980s. But when I went to buy macadamia nuts at Wegmans and saw that they were $14.99 a pound, the old frugal person in me said, nostalgia or no nostalgia, there was no way I was going to pay that much for nuts for some muffins. Why, I remember when ice cream sandwiches cost a quarter at lunchtime and lunch money was given to the teacher at the beginning of the day in a little, jingling manilla envelope!
Flickr: east_lothian_museums

I had already paired pistachios with white chocolate in a previous blog post, so salty cashews seemed like another natural mate for macadamias.  And they were my favorite nut as a kid, and are one of my favorite kinds of nut now.

So, for those of you who are still penny-pinching so you can buy the real purple LP of Purple Rain (I had it), a jean jacket from Deb or even just some extra change for the next arcade party for the Ms. Pac-Man machine, this muffin is for you.  I know it's hard to find, but if you can locate full fat Greek yogurt, this really takes the consistency of the muffin 'to the next level.'


--yields 12 normal-sized muffins or 6 jumbo, 80s-style bake shop size--

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon non-iodized sea salt
1 large, beaten egg
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped salted cashews


1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line muffin tins.  The batter is sticky, so use liners.

2. Sift flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix egg, yogurt, and vegetable oil in another bowl. Fold dry into wet.  Fold in chips and nuts. Pour into muffin liners.

3. Bake 20-25 minutes.  My 6 large muffins took 25 minutes, smaller muffins will take less time. A toothpick should be able to be extracted 'clean.'  Cool before removing from pan.


  1. I never cared for Orange Julius either. I don't know if you remember Space Sticks, but they had an orange flavored one that was basically an Orange Julius in solid form. Even as a kid who would eat anything, I understood that it was fairly disgusting.

    I try not to be too horrified by the cost of things, but the one that always gets me is $2 a pound for celery. Celery!

  2. @Flurrious--those look AWFUL! Not even the commercial is funny! It's so industrial 1950s, like the message is that eating Space Sticks will help us beat the Russians. Pretty much any food designed for astronauts is awful. I could never understand the appeal of the Smithsonian's famous freeze-dried astronaut ice cream.

    For a full confession, I don't really like Creamsicles or orange juice.

    I've grown to like celery more in my old age, but I can't eat it in large quantities and still vaguely feel someone should be paying ME to eat it, rather than the other way 'round.