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RATHER BE COOKING

Muffins bring back memories of Mama

Posted on May 6, 2022

ColumnsFoodRecipesLife
These orange brunch muffins are a delicious treat.

Lisa Boykin Batts | Times

These orange brunch muffins are a delicious treat.

lisa@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7810

Lisa Boykin Batts

Lisa Boykin Batts

Mama had a sweet tooth and always enjoyed desserts and candy.

Sometimes, she’d even eat her dessert before her meal. And why not? Her desserts were some of our favorite recipes — from a luscious Italian cream cake to a tangy lemon cake. And who can forget the strawberry shortcakes she made for my May birthday?

As she aged, she continued to bake and make meals extra special with a sweet finishing touch. My little family often joined Mama and Daddy for supper on Saturday nights, and we could always count on a cake to top off our meal, whether it was yellow layers with chocolate frosting or a pineapple cake covered with 7-minute frosting.

Mama also loved chocolate candy bars. Mounds and Clark Bars were some of her early favorites. In their later years, Daddy and Mama kept a large glass candy bowl filled with small chocolate bars on an heirloom cedar chest in the living room.

When my parents were no longer able to shop, I’d make a point to keep candy bars on my shopping list for them and not let that jar get empty. I had fun picking out the miniature chocolate candy bars each week, knowing how much they’d enjoy them.

Even when she was in the hardest part of Alzheimer’s disease, Mama knew where to find that candy jar. We’d often discover the wrappers from Snickers, Baby Ruth bars and Three Musketeers around the house or in her pockets. I worried that Mama, who was struggling to eat and maintain her weight, was eating too much chocolate. Her wise doctor told me to let her eat whatever she wanted. I did just that.

Getting chocolate anytime she wanted was one of the few things Mama could do for herself, and I often thought how nice it must feel to her when she could choose her own candy and not have someone else prepare it for her or help her eat it. It was one of the few times she could be truly independent.

In those last years of her life, I cooked for her and Daddy often and tried to work in a sweet treat as much as possible. When Mother’s Day rolled around one year, and I was struggling for a gift idea, I eventually hit on the perfect solution that I continued for a few years. I baked for her. I made special cupcakes or muffins that I knew she’d like and ones that she could eat without assistance.

Although it’s been a dozen years since we lost Mama, I can still remember the smile on her face when she’d see a tray of pretty baked treats and a Mother’s Day card. Although she didn’t understand the significance of the day, I certainly did. I’d never pass up on a chance to celebrate my precious mama.

A few days ago, this orange muffin recipe popped up in my email. I knew right away I wanted to make the muffins. As I read the recipe, my mind wandered, as it often does, and I imagined how much my mama would have loved this recipe that’s made with orange zest and white chocolate chips. It’s different from any muffin recipe I’ve ever made, and I would have loved making it for her for Mother’s Day.

In honor of Mama, I made this simple recipe Wednesday night. I had no idea if I’d like it, but Reggie and I loved the muffins we ate with our supper. The melted white chocolate chips on top added a crowning touch.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Mama would have loved these muffins too.

Lisa Boykin Batts has been writing a weekly food column since 2001. Her column includes recipes she and her family enjoy.

Orange Brunch Muffins

These easy muffins are delicious warm. I highly recommend warming leftovers for 10-12 seconds in the microwave.

3 cups all-purpose baking mix

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used sour cream)

1/2 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

2 cups (12-ounce package) white morsels, divided

1/2 cup macadamia nuts or walnuts (I omitted)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease 18 muffin cups or fill with paper liners.*

Combine baking mix, flour and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs, yogurt, juice and orange peel; stir just until blended. Stir in 1 2/3 cups morsels. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Sprinkle with nuts.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool slightly.

Microwave remaining 1/3 cup morsels in small, heavy-duty plastic bag on medium (70%) power for 1 minute; knead. Microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, kneading until smooth. Cut tiny corner from bag; squeeze to drizzle over muffins. Serve warm.

— Nestle’s Very Best Baking website

* I made a half recipe. Also, the batter for these muffins is stiff. I smoothed the batter in the muffin cups before putting in the oven.

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