On the shortest day of the year, here’s a little something baked to brighten up the barely light hours. I picked rather too much rosemary the other day, and spent a few days pondering on how best to use it up. It doesn’t freeze very well and I’m not a fan of the dried stuff. After admiring the stems as a herbal arrangement in my kitchen for a while, I decided to do some flavour experimentation, and these muffins are the result.
I wasn’t really intending them to be so festive looking, but the sprigs reminded me of tiny pine trees and then my mind started going into creative mode. I hope you enjoy them. The flavour is really rich and perfect for the time of year. You only need to use the leaves for this recipe – the stems are too tough – and try to chop the leaves as small as possible for the best flavour and better eating.
- 150ml sunflower oil
- 150g dark brown sugar
- 150g silken tofu
- 45g cocoa powder
- 2 level tsp gluten-free baking powder (such as Dr Oetker)
- 1 level tbsp ground arrowroot (I often add this to help bind gluten-free cake mixtures together)
- 100g ground almonds
- 75g polenta
- Finely grated rind 1 unwaxed orange
- 2 level tsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
- Pinch of salt
- 125g icing sugar + extra to dust
- Approx. 40ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 10 tsp Chia or poppy seeds
- 10 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven, gas mark 4). Line a muffin tin with 10 paper cases. Put the oil, sugar and tofu in a bowl and whisk together with an electric mixer until well blended and thick.
- Sieve 25g cocoa, baking powder and the arrowroot on top. Add the almonds, polenta, orange rind, chopped rosemary and salt. Mix all the ingredients together until thoroughly combined.
- Divide the mixture equally between the cases. Smooth the tops and bake for about 35 minutes until just firm to the touch – the cakes may look slightly sunk in the middle. Cool in the tins for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To decorate, sieve the icing sugar and remaining cocoa powder into a small bowl and mix together with sufficient orange juice to make and smooth, spreadable icing. Spoon sufficient icing on top of each muffin and spread to cover the top completely.
- Sprinkle the top of each muffin with 1 tsp seeds. Leave for a few minutes to set before adding the finishing touches.
Just before serving, carefully put the muffins into small flower pots. Push a sprig of rosemary into the top of each and if liked, dust the rosemary lightly with a little icing sugar for a frosted look.
The muffins freeze well once iced and seeded, and will also keep for 4-5 days in an airtight tin once decorated. Simply decorate with fresh rosemary and icing sugar just before serving.