In L.A., when the weather dips below 65°, Los Angelenos like to pretend that it's actually 30° below. During our four-day Thanksgiving break, it got to about 60°, so that called for us to pretend like it was freezing. Chris and I did a lot of sleeping in, lounging about the house, and movie-watching. We kept it cozy inside with a fire going in the fireplace. We noshed on Thanksgiving leftovers and had pie with our coffee. It was blissful.
Do you know what goes really well with "cold," lazy, stay-inside days? Baking. Muffin baking, more specifically.
It was wonderful- filling the house with the sweet scent of caramelized pears and feeling the warmth from the oven as I sat at the dining table with a cup of coffee and a book, my canine friend leaning against my legs. Can you imagine anything more heavenly?
The outcome of my homebody baking experiments: Fluffy, moist muffins filled with slices of caramelized pears. These are some of the most indulgent-tasting muffins I've had in a long while, and the truth is, they're actually pretty healthy! They're sugar-free since I only used coconut sugar in the muffin batter and to caramelize the pears. Coconut sugar has a very low glycemic level, which means no sugar highs/lows and it's very nutrient dense. There is a little bit of coconut oil, but if you wanted to make them lower fat, you could use (unsweetened) applesauce instead. The best part about these muffins were the caramelized pear slices, hence the name. I just cooked the pear slices in a pan with some vegan butter and coconut sugar until the pear slices were soft and covered in a thick, caramel sauce. With every bite of the muffin, you get a chunk of these sweet, caramel pears and let me tell you, my friend, it is glorious!
In order to go outside in 60° weather in Los Angeles, everyone likes to to get bundled up and hold cups of hot coffee as if they were just given hot cocoa after trekking through the snow for 6 hours. It's pretty silly, but I admit, I love to do it too. A few times during our long, lazy weekend, we ventured out to get soy lattes from our local Starbucks, where we would sit and people/dog watch, enjoying "being cold" while sipping our warm drinks. The day after I made these muffins, however, we took it up a notch. I packed a couple muffins in my purse (don't judge), and while others noshed on their 700 calorie, animal-secretion laden excuses for baked goods, we whipped out our decadent, yet healthy, caramelized pear muffins and munched while we sipped our lattes, pretending that the heat from the coffee was necessary for our survival. Then we returned to the house to watch more movies. Absolutely blissful.
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose/gluten-free all purpose flour)
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 bartlet pears, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 4 tablespoons coconut sugar (or other vegan sugar)
- pinch of salt
- In a small bowl, combine the almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside. This needs to set for at least ten minutes to allow the milk to curdle and become “buttermilk.”
- Combine all of your dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake/muffin liners.
- Prepare your pears. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the pear slices and coconut sugar and mix to combine. Let the pears simmer in the caramel sauce/juice, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is gone and the pears are soft and brown with the caramel sauce. Remove from heat.
- Add the coconut oil and vanilla extract to the buttermilk mixture and mix to combine. Pour the wet ingredients in the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the caramelized pears.
- Evenly distribute the batter amongst the 12 liners. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Let cool in the tin for about five minutes before removing the muffins and transferring them to a cooling rack. Let them cool completely before serving. Enjoy!
Photography by Chris Miller
that's so funny! i wish it was 60 degrees here!! it's 35 right now. but any excuse to stay in, lounging, and watching movies is fine with me! these muffins looks delicious! i've never had a muffin with pear in it. and i'm sure the carmelization makes the flavor really flavorful, moist, and scrumptious 😉
Thank you, Caitlin! And trust me, I do not take for granted the weather here, but there is something about just getting all bundled up that just feels appropriate this time of year, regardless of the temperature. We'll be in NYC in early January so I'll get a taste of your weather for a bit. 🙂
What a dreamy muffin! I am so glad you introduced me to coconut sugar, I have been really enjoying it the last couple of months. I have a bag of bartlett pears on the counter ripening, so all I need now is a lazy day to make these 🙂
Thanks, Sarah! I think coconut sugar is my favorite sugar to use these days. And my local Whole Foods just started carrying an organic coconut sugar in the bulk bins so I'll be using it a lot more!
I loved all of your vacation pics- it looks like you had a really good time. Was it easy to find vegan eats there?
Costa Rica is a wonderful country! I couldn't recommend it enough. Super vegan friendly, we didn't have any trouble at all. I am having plantain and yucca withdrawals now! I need to learn how to cook these things for myself stat!
That's so good to know- I never would've thought that about Costa Rica! 🙂
What a wonderful break, Kristy - sounds just perfect - even though the weather was a frigid 60!! You poor things!
Coming from San Francisco area, I used to be accustomed to cold rainy weather all the time. It wouldn't get as cold as the east coast, but it wasn't uncommon for my parent's pool to freeze over. When I moved down here, I thought it was hilarious to see everyone bundling up on what I thought was a warm day. Now I join in on the fun. 😉
Gabby @ the veggie nook
Before I was vegan, I used to make these ginger pear muffins, and oh boy these have me craving them! I bet the caramelization takes them to a whole new level!
Thanks Gabby- we're getting through it. 😉
Ginger pear muffins sound amazing! I'll have to remember to add ginger to these muffins the next time I make them! 🙂
CJ at Food Stories
Baking is the best on cold, rainy days 🙂
You are a gal after my own heart- staying in and baking on a dreary, rainy day is pure bliss to me! 🙂
Hey now 60 is freezing to us whims out here...these look yummy 🙂
Hahaha! We are TOTAL wimps! And thank you! 🙂
These look gorgeous! I love cooking with pears but I usually bake them in raw. This must make them even better.
Thank you! Pears are just magical when they're baked, or just heated, really. I love them in oatmeal. But yes, the caramelization adds a little oomph to these little muffins. 🙂
jodye @ chocolate and chou fleur
I've added caramelized apples and pears to oatmeal on occasion, so a muffin does seem like a logical next step! And especially good for the cold weather!
OH MY GOSH- i need to put caramelized pears in my oatmeal. I only ever put raw pears in my oatmeal, but that sounds amazing! 🙂
Oh my gosh, I would kill for 60* days right about now 🙂 We were just walking to a Monarchs (Hockey) Game in 15 degree weather talking about how amazing it would be to live someplace year round with days that never got below 60 - well we found our anwser California!
These muffins look to die for and I would have totally brought one with me to enjoy at Starbucks too 😉
Trust me- I don't take our weather for granted. I just find it so humorous how wimpy Los Angelenos (including myself) can be. 🙂
It's been unseasonably warm here in CO - in the 50s and 60s, and I've seen people out still rocking their flip flops. 🙂 I totally love staying in and baking on cold days too though. Your muffins look delish!
Just brilliant! I wish it were 60 degrees here! Everyone would be wearing shorts and tee shirts! Is it wrong that I all ready want winter to be over? 🙂
I'm sure I wouldn't be loving it as much if I were truly freezing my butt off- we are such wimps here in LA!!!
You're so right about those LA cold fronts! When I first moved to Los Angeles from the Midwest, I was stunned when it was December, 65 degrees, and people were bundled up in scarves, hats, and mittens. They'd shuffle across the street as if a blizzard was about to descend. Then wouldn't you know it, after about ten years, when winter came, it actually felt chilly to me! No, it wasn't the kind of cold that hurts (like you'd find in January in Iowa), but I'd still grab a scarf on my way out, especially if I was leaving the Valley and going to the cooler beach areas. As you can imagine, returning to a place where it's seriously cold in the winter was a shock to the system!
Those muffins look amazing!! I especially love the chunks of pear inside!
Totally pinning these! Pears are just incredible at the moment and these muffins are so pretty!
Thank you, Michelle! 🙂
These muffins came out great. Thank you for the recipe.
They were so soft and moist and the caramelised pears in every bite were just yum!
Oh and I made them with my toddler. We enjoyed the whole cooking process too and ate lots of pear - great recipe that left lots of fond memories for me 🙂
Do you have a calorie count on these? Do you know for sure they're under 700 calories?
I do not have a calorie count.
Okay so I plugged it into caloriecount.com and got about 235 calories. Now, they don't have coconut sugar in their database and I used all purpose flour instead of pastry so I would treat it as +/- 10%. Assuming 250 calories per muffin, you could have three while you sit outside Starbucks keeping warm!
Wow wow wow! So moist and tasty. First muffins of fall after a too-hot-to-use-the-oven summer. Great way to kick off the season.