Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cherry Chocolate Muffins with Almond Cream Glaze

These bunches of two cherries look just like the cherries on Pac Man!
Two days ago, I took the boys to pick sweet cherries at Hidden Acres Fruit Farm in Wilkinson, Indiana.  This was a completely new experience for us as we had never picked cherries before.  The farm is a bit of a drive from Muncie, but was worth it to us just for the experience and fun we had. (Plus we used the outing an excuse to go get waffle cones at Good's Candy Shop in Anderson.  They have by far the best ice cream I have ever tasted in my life and I love the extra yummy surprise in the bottom of the waffle cones!  If you go, be sure to ask to walk through their viewing area so you can see the candy-makers at work.)

The picking experience at Hidden Acres started with a hay wagon ride to the orchard.  On the way, one of the older kids from the family that owns the farm told us some of the history of the farm and a bit about their operation.  After a few minutes, we arrived at the cherry-laden trees.  They really have an excellent crop this year.  The boys and I started by tasting both varieties of cherries they grow and since both were equally fantastic we decided to pick a mix.  As we picked, we talked a bit with a couple of the younger kids from the family that owns the farm.  They were quite happy to chat (especially since my boys were close to their ages) and seemed quite proud of their farm and the work they do.

Since we've indulged in far too many desserts lately, I decided to bake some of the cherries into muffins for the boys to snack on after they get home from Cardinal Kids Camp and they can also take some in their lunches the rest of the week.  I love the flavors of almond and cherries together, but since we aren't particularly fond of nuts in muffins I decided to get the almond flavor with almond extract.  If, unlike me, you don't have a block of cream cheese you've been trying to use up, feel free to skip the glaze.

Cherry Chocolate Muffins with Almond Cream Glaze

Makes 18 muffins

Muffin Ingredients
• 1 cup milk
• 2/3 cup plain greek yogurt
• 2 large eggs beaten
• ¼ tsp almond extract

• ½ cup brown sugar
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 2 cups pitted fresh sweet cherries, halved
• ½ cup chocolate chips 

• 1 tablespoon milk
• 1 oz softened cream cheese
• 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

• 1/8-1/4 teaspoon almond extract (according to taste)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat muffin pans with cooking spray.  Toss the cherries with one tablespoon of the flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins.  

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix just until wet.  Do not overmix.  Fold in the cherries and chocolate chips.  

Use a levered ice cream scoop to divide the batter into 18 muffins.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.   

Let muffins cool in pan for 10-15 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.  Use a fork to whisk the milk, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and almond extract in a small bowl and then top each muffin with a bit of the glaze.

Adapted from Whole Grain Cherry Muffins with Light Cream Cheese Glaze 

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