i started this post a bunch of times, but didn't have the stamina to finish it. things have conspired to keep me away, but not all of them work-related. we had a nice weekend in the wisconsin dells and we went to michigan to get a bunch of sour cherries. i made jam and liquer and ice cream and i can't wait to tell you all about it. but in my last post i said i would talk about the fromage blanc i used to make the chocolate mousse for the pavlovas. most of the leftover cheese was just slapped on these muffins and eaten together. it was a great flavor combo, if somewhat heavy. the muffins, tolerant enough to accept company, are no push-overs. they know they're not cupcakes. they don't need the frills. they have enough bang on their own, and in this case my beautiful fromage blanc was as superfluous as a frothy ballerina dancing to firecrakers. take off your slippers and enjoy the pretty colors, lady. tomorrow you go back to work, but you're not needed right now. that, and the fact i've lost all but one of the photos, makes me redirect your attention to this artful presentation of fromage blanc. it's a slight adaptation of the recipe i used, from emeril.
it really is a delightful fresh cheese. a lot of people liken it to cream cheese, but i don't think that's quite right. and i certainly don't think them interchangeable in recipes. i find it closer to a very fine-grained ricotta. an improved ricotta al latte, if you will. i like it more than mascarpone. it's not as smooth, and that makes it more versatile. it's spreadable, and you can use it as you would mascarpone, but you can also pile it on toast with a drizzle of warm honey for a great breakfast. it's my favorite for desserts. ever try to make gateau au fromage blanc using cream cheese? don't bother. it's just not the same.
the muffins are a simple affair. what set these blueberry apart for me was the toasted hazelnuts. especially the topping, without it they would be plain, but with that crunch they don't need anything else.
blueberry hazelnut muffins
10 oz or 275 gr fresh blueberries
4 oz or 100 gr chopped toasted hazelnuts
10 oz or 275 gr all-purpose flour
1 tb baking powder
1/2 ts salt
2 large eggs
3 oz or 75 gr caster sugar
6 oz or 170 ml milk
2 oz or 50 gr butter, melted and cooled
2 oz or 50 ml roasted hazelnut oil
1 ts vanilla extract
4 oz or 100 gr hazelnuts
4 tb turbinado sugar
preheat oven to 400F or 200C. toast all the hazelnuts about 5 minutes and let cool. maintain oven temp. remove skins form hazelnuts and chop finely. sift the flour with the salt and baking powder. in a large bowl mix eggs with sugar, milk, butter and oil. add the vanilla extract. mix to combine well. sift once more the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and fold quickly. fold in blueberries and 4 oz nuts. try to keep stirring to a minimum. spoon in muffin tins just enough to fill. pulse the rest of the nust with the turbinado sugar until finely chopped. divide evenly between muffins - you may not use all of it. bake on high shelf 20 minutes for minis and up to 30 for big ones. remove to rack to cool. yields 24 minis and 6 jumbos.