Author: Maria Speck, Author of Ancient Grains
"The inspiration for these muffins came to me in the wee hours of a sleepless night. I had been mulling for days over a creamy blissful filling when the classic Mediterranean pairing of sweet dried figs and tangy goat cheese came to mind. This is such a winning match that you should try it, even if goat cheese is normally not your thing. Just be sure to look for a mild kind. Of course, you may use cream cheese instead.
The creaminess of goat cheese can vary considerably, as my testers discovered. To get a lush, creamy center, you might have to add up to 2 tablespoons of buttermilk to the filling. But don’t worry— even if the filling isn’t as creamy as it should be, it will still taste delicious. Just make a note for next time."
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Lightly butter a standard-size 12-cup muffin pan, preferably nonstick, or coat with cooking spray.
2. To make the filling, combine the goat cheese, honey, lemon zest, and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Beat with a fork until smooth.
3. To make the muffins, whisk together the white whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk the eggs to blend. Gently whisk in the brown sugar and vanilla extract, and then the olive oil and buttermilk until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the egg mixture to the center of the flour mixture, and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Do not overmix; the batter should look lumpy. Fold in the dried figs.
4. Using a soup spoon, fill each muffin cup nearly half full. Add a bit more than 1 teaspoon of the goat cheese filling to the center of each muffin, gently pressing in. Top with the remaining batter. (The filling should not be visible.) Generously sprinkle the muffins with the turbinado sugar.
5. Bake until the muffins are nicely domed, the edges start to brown, and the tops spring back when gently pressed, about 13 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before gently twisting the muffins out of the pan. Cool them completely on the rack, or eat warm.
Plan Ahead: The muffins can be baked 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature, or frozen for up to 1 month.
Variations: Use 1 teaspoon orange zest instead of lemon zest in the filling.
Servings: Makes 12 muffins
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