pear and hazelnut muffins

We all know that muffins teeter precariously on a razor-thin line that divides the food categories of “Acceptable for Breakfast” and “Nope, This Is Dessert” and one must maintain firm boundaries during the breakfast hours lest the day that follows devolve into a full-on bacchanal of Resolution decompensation that ends with one passed out amid scatters of Cheetos, ketchup packets and French fry grease with a side of cronut.

roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts
peeled pears, but no need for you to

Thus, when I come upon a new muffin recipe — or in this case, when my son is told to pick a recipe for us to make from a new book, and he predictably chooses the thing that most resembles cake — I immediately assess the list of ingredients and label them accordingly:

cored and de-stemmed

Whole grains and oats = breakfast!
White flour = cake.
An egg or two = breakfast!
Lots of eggs = cake.
Natural sweeteners = breakfast!
White sugar = cake.
Unsaturated fats = breakfast!
Butter = cake.

a lot of grated pear
freshly grated nutmeg, just because
there were, uh, a few bowls; i've streamlined things

And so this goes until the marks in each category can be tallied and a determination can be made as to whether we can pull this off during the breakfast meal. The Pear-Hazelnut Muffins from Megan Gordon’s beautiful new book, Whole Grain Mornings, came out clearly in the breakfast camp with oats, whole wheat flour and nuts and might have even remained there, had my husband not planted the idea in my head that pears (breakfast!) and hazelnuts (breakfast!) might go especially well with … chunks of chocolate. (Oops.)

I’m sorry, Megan, I know you tried to steer our mornings wholesome with this book; it just didn’t stand a chance with the likes of us.

dry into wet
and then this happened; breakfast fail
ready to bake

So, maybe we had them for dessert last night instead, but I have no regrets. These muffins have a few more ingredients than my beloved blues, but there’s a complex flavor I hadn’t remotely expected from something as usually forgettable as a muffin — grated pear, toasted hazelnuts, vanilla, butter, oats and, yes, chocolate chunks tangle together in a nubby, crunchy muffin that actually tastes amazing even a day and two after it’s baked. Not that I had one for breakfast today. (Please don’t tell my son?)

pear, hazelnut and chocolate chunk muffins
pear, hazelnut and chocolate chunk muffins

Thank you: For making yesterday’s Facebook Chat an overwhelming success — that was really fun! I tried to get to as many questions as I could throughout the afternoon and evening as well, but have a bunch to go. I’ll get to them as I find pockets of free time. Feel free to catch up right here, if you wish. Please forgive errors of grammar and spelling — that was a lot of fast typing for a couple hours! [1/15/14 Smitten Kitchen Facebook Chat]

One year ago: Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard and Sizzling Garlic
Two years ago: Buttermilk Roast Chicken
Three years ago: Baked Potato Soup
Four years ago: Poppy Seed Lemon Cake and Black Bean Soup + Toasted Cumin Seed Crema [still my favorite accompaniment to a taco night!]
Five years ago: Light Wheat Bread
Six years ago: Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
Seven years ago: Leek and Mushroom Quiche

Pear and Hazelnut Muffins
Adapted from Whole Grain Mornings

This book is a delight, creative, seasonally-sorted recipes through the lens of whole grains. I made these first (preschooler’s choice!) but have already bookmarked Bacon and Kale Polenta Squares, Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp, Vanilla and Cream Steel-Cut Oats Porridge, Creamy Breakfast Rice with Honey-Poached Figs and Pistachios and Zucchini-Farro Fritters, to give you an idea of what will await you when you buy the book. It’s nothing short of what you’d expect from the creator of Marge Granola.

This recipe, however, I tweaked it a bit, mostly because it used many bowls and I wanted it to use fewer. A bunch more notes: This calls for 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat (pastry flour was recommended) but I think it can be tweaked with any flour mix your prefer, be it mostly whole wheat or white whole wheat, or a gluten-free mix (Sprouted Kitchen smartly recommends 1/2 cup each of oat, almond and brown rice flour). I (always) think you could brown the butter. Yogurt thinned with a little milk could replace the buttermilk, as could coconut milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice added, and coconut oil or olive oil could replace the butter, just to give you a few ideas. The bittersweet chocolate chunks were not necessary, but they were not regretted either.

Yield: Theoretically, 12 muffins, but I got 16.

2 small-medium firm pears
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (plus more for cups)
2/3 cup (125 grams) natural cane sugar, such as Turbinado, light brown or granulated sugar
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup (75 grams) rolled oats
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, which I replaced with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, which I replaced with 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (120 grams) toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (85 grams) bittersweet chocolate chunks (optional)

Heat oven to 425°F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line it with papers.*

Peel (if you so desire, can be skipped) pears, then halve and core them. Grate pears on the large holes of a boxed grater into a large bowl. You should have about 1 cup grated (although I ended up with 1 1/2, opting to meet the recipe halfway and used 1 1/4 cups). Stir in melted butter, sugar, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until combined.

In a separate bowl, stir together the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices, salt, all but 1/2 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts, and chocolate chunks, if you’re feeling extra indulgent. Gently fold this dry ingredient mixture into the wet batter until just combined; do not overmix.

Fill muffin cups almost up to the top and sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup hazelnuts. Place muffins in oven and immediately reduce the heat to 375°F. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of muffins comes out batter-free.

Cool muffins in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Muffins will keep for 2 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

* Unsolicited plug: Just bought these for the first time, which were wonderful at keeping the muffins from sticking to the paper.

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177 comments on pear and hazelnut muffins

  1. This book is getting such rave reviews – I can’t wait for my copy to come. I’m of the opinion that breakfast really isn’t a proper breakfast unless you can also call it a dessert and so these muffins look right up my street. I love that pear + hazelnut combo, it’s one of my absolute favourites.

  2. Cara

    I have been replacing white or wheat flour with “white whole wheat” flour. It has the health benefits of wheat, but has a texture more like white. Great for healthy baking.

  3. Helllllooooo, chocolate (and welcome). I love the addition, Deb, and am so glad you all enjoyed the muffins. I’m very much of the mind that hazelnuts + chocolate pretty much always work together. Not surprisingly, yours look beautiful. Happy breakfasting! xox from Seattle.

  4. Sally

    These look amazingly delicious! But my husband is unfortunately allergic to hazelnuts (and almonds), is there any other nut you’d recommend as a good substitute?

  5. Wow! Those look and sound fantastic! What a lovely muffin! I would love to make these as a yummy snack to come home to after a hard run. I am sure it would be much better for my training than my current go to snack. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Britt

    Lovely! I just made these the other day with almond flour, brown rice flour, and tapioca starch to convert it to a gluten-free muffin, and let me assure you, the results were wonderful.

  7. BGP

    Do you think you could make these with NO nuts? My son is allergic. They sound so yummy though! However if there is a whole cup of nuts, that seems like a major thing to omit. Would love any ideas. Maybe toasted sunflower seeds?

  8. Susan

    If pancakes and/or waffles, oozing with melted butter and ladled with syrup or sweetened fruit and whipped cream are considered breakfast items, these muffins certainly qualify. I’ve often served pancakes, waffles and dutch babies as dessert when I’d never thought to serve a muffin as such! I also look at the ratio and mixing method to determine the difference between cake and quick breads. Such is my way of looking at baking..

  9. Sarah

    Ooh yum! These look so tasty – Britt, would you share your GF conversion, please? I’d love to be able to share these with my girlfriend!

  10. Pears for breakfast are my favorite. I think I could make a big batch of these and freeze them, and it likely wouldn’t get boring eating them out of the toaster oven day after day…

  11. Emma

    They look lovely! Mmm, muffins. And chocolate.
    (By the way, there appears to be a typo in the second paragraph. I assume you assess the list of ingredients, not asses them.)

  12. WifeToAnAmazingCook

    How cool is it that Megan commented (#10)?!

    I love the addition of chocolate here and I can’t wait to make these. Does anyone know if they freeze well? Since Deb noted that they taste good a day or two after baking, I’m hoping that I can freeze them without sacrificing too much texture and flavor.

  13. We all need a bit of ingredient rationalisation to decide whether a recipe is a desert or health food. However if a recipe has fruit and oats in it; it is breakfast (even if does have obscene amounts of butter and sugar it in)

    I may not be healthiest eater, but I sure could eat these as breakfast with fresh fruits then save one for dessert with ice cream later. Great flavour combo that is so adaptable.

  14. Katie C.

    You sound like Bill Cosby in his cake for breakfast shtick!

    I liked the chat. I had to read it after the fact but what the heck. You have a lot of followers!

  15. Katie

    I was stalking your facebook chat and ran across the list of blogs you follow and I fell in love with Orangette, not to mention the Whole Grain Mornings book! I plan on making the oatmeal recipe listed on Molly’s page for toasted-oats-in-butter breakfast oatmeal. I’m so anxious to try these now too! By the way, I have been baking the Meyer lemon scones (with just blueberries) every week since before Christmas. There hasn’t been a sad face yet. ;)

  16. Jen

    These sound fantastic! I happen to have some candied ginger in my kitchen that sounds like it would be a nice addition to these…putting it on my to-do list for the holiday weekend.

  17. Lauren

    Saw this book mentioned on Heidi’s site, and thought that it had tremendous potential! Didn’t notice the muffin part tho- as I was taken with some of the veggie options that she is SO good at making look and sound (and taste) fabulous. Next to having dinner Chez Deb, I would want to go west and dine with her! You BOTH have the most awesome cookware in your posts, too.I would gladly snoop in both your kitchen cabinets. My son uses these muffin cups, he does “breakfast” ( really- no “crossovers” from dessert for him) muffins once a week, and they have impressed him as well! Thanks for the unsolicited tip! P.S. Your first paragraph today was among your best- I was laughing out loud! You rock!

  18. Shelli

    I’m allergic to all nuts, is there a way to eliminate the hazelnuts in this recipe and not substitute anything else? Also, could you substitute regular milk for the buttermilk?

    1. deb

      Shelli, BGP — I suspect that the recipe will work without the hazelnuts, but I can’t be 100% sure without trying it.

      Shelli — As for regular milk, the acidity in buttermilk is important to get the leaveners working properly. It’s better to just use that milk to make your own buttermilk.

      Marina — I haven’t tried this as a coffee cake, but I think it would work fine. I can’t guess the baking time, though. I’d check in at 30 minutes, then every 5 minutes after that.

      WifeToAnAmazingCook — I think they’d freeze well.

      Pam, Emma — Ha! Okay, now fixed. :) Thanks.

      Helena — I bought pre-toasted hazelnuts from TJs and absolutely did not bother. (Truly, you never HAVE to. It’s just that some people find them bitter or unpleasant. Or, perhaps, don’t like realizing as they were going to bed that they had mad hazelnut skin flakes in their teeth and none of their so-called loved ones told them all day.)

      Sally — Pecans or walnuts should work too.

  19. I would really like to make this recipe as a coffee cake. I just personally have an aversion to muffins. Can someone give me an approximate baking time for, say, a 9-inch (tall) cake pan? Pretty Please?

  20. “We all know that muffins teeter precariously on a razor-thin line that divides the food categories of “Acceptable for Breakfast” and “Nope, This Is Dessert””

    Ha – I definitely agree with you on that one! Too often I make something for the morning and realize I am basically eating cake for breakfast (not that I mind…!)

  21. K

    Ah ha ha! I’m incredibly glad to know that I’m in such good company on the melted butter issue. Melting butter? But of course it needs to be browned too! Why wouldn’t I brown the butter? Love this so much and can’t wait to try the recipe and check out the book, which is already waiting in my Amazon cart.

  22. So true – that line between breakfast and dessert is a tricky one! Growing up, my mom used to refer to whatever we had after our cereal as “breakfast dessert,” so I’m not sure if that makes things more or less ambiguous… At any rate, these look super tasty!

  23. I could have these muffins for breakfast and for dessert, and I do not care about crossing the line as long as on the other there’s a yummy muffin waiting for me.

  24. Where were these when I had pears coming out of my ears this fall?!? Keeping this in mind for the next pear season.

    And I wish I could have participated in the FB chat yesterday – darn work schedule. Maybe there could be an evening FB event some time?

  25. Shannon

    You’re posts never fail to make me laugh! So glad you featured this great new cookbook. I bought it as soon as it came out and by the time I finished my first look through, I was ordering another copy for my mom. I’ve only made the (delicious) Spiced Bulgur Porridge with Dates and Almonds but the Triple Coconut Quinoa Porridge is definitely up next.

  26. Shannon

    Theses sound so good!! When I was a kid I convinced my mom to let me eat chocolate cake for breakfast.

    Question on the spices you replaced the cardamom for cinnamon was that a flavor issue or preference? Thanks

  27. Rebecca

    I’ve seen this recipe on three different blogs in the last week. I guess I’ll take a hint! I’ll bring them to my BFF who just had a baby. Every new mom (and dad!) needs some healthy breakfasts at their disposal, yes?

  28. It’s like you made these muffins just for me. I absolutely love pears, chocolate and hazelnuts. I made a pear cake with cardamom late last year, and it was an absolute revelation as to how beautiful they are together. I’ll definitely be trying these over the weekend. Thank you!

  29. Nikara

    These look DEElicious!! Do you think you could use softer/juicier pears for this recipe and mash them up a bit instead of shred them? The batter would obviously be wetter if the rest was left as is but would that be a bad thing? We live in central Washington A.K.A Fruit Tree Country, and always (when they’re in season) seem to have pears lying around over ripening before we can eat them all up. It would be nice to have such a yummy recipe to put them in like we do with our brown bananas :)

    Haha! At the hazelnut flaked teeth and the so-called loved ones! Couldn’t stop laughing and I think I might know those people :)

  30. Kris

    You know usually I see lots of things on this site that i want to make TONIGHT, but I never end up actually making them that night – until this one! The grocery store didn’t have hazelnuts and I didn’t have time to go anywhere else, so I made them with pear and chocolate only, used only 1/2 c sugar, and also made them gluten-free by using a mix of oat, sorghum, and rice flours. And yeah…based on how they tasted fresh out of the oven, these are definitely dessert for me – a delicious, delicious dessert. I would love to try making it into cupcakes or a sheet cake somehow. Not to say I won’t eat one for breakfast tomorrow. If a muffin can be sophisticated, then this one is! I used the cardamom as the recipe suggested and it’s perfect.

  31. Sometimes I feel like there’s no differentiation between all these baked goods except for shapes:

    Anything in cup-form without icing = muffins
    Anything in cup-form with icing + higher price tag = cup cakes
    Anything in rectangular form = pound cake
    Anything in rectangular form + zucchini = I don’t know why this is “bread”
    Anything in round form = the real cakes
    Anything cooked on a flat surface = pancakes

  32. I have been into muffins myself and now I am putting this on the list. Love all the ingredients…what’s not to love with the hint of hazelnuts & chocolate!?! Btw, missed the FB chat yesterday, but wanted to give a shout out to you for inspiring my blog. Thanks!

  33. Danielle

    LOL Mandy, I agree with your list except for the rectangular form + zucchini. It should read rectangular form + any grated produce. That would include pears… right? :D

  34. Marilyn

    I got a kick out of how you differentiate “breakfast” muffins from “dessert” muffins. Have you tried the Bob’s Red Mill recipe for [Bran Flax Muffins]( They’re a favorite in my family although we’re always teasing each other about all the fiber. I think they’d fall solidly in the breakfast category but they’re full of fruit so they pretty tasty.

  35. Happy to report back that my 9″ round cake was/is magnificent! I started with 25 minutes then added 5 min. increments for total of 35 minutes. We had it for dessert last night, warm out of the oven. Had it for breakfast this morning, slightly warmed in the microwave with a little butter on top. Delectable! My husband even tried to take a picture of it to post on Instagram (too early for good light, fail). New family favorite for sure.

    P.S. I LOVE puppies & rainbows, just not muffins, although I adore cupcakes, especially with crunchy sugar sprinkles on top!

  36. I love Spears send hazlenuts! And i love to use them together in cupcake, but i don’t have rollend oats! Can i leave them out? I hope so. I don’t feel like going to the grocery’s! Mayby if i use a pear extra? Thanks in advance for answering! ;-)

  37. I often have the debate about making muffins because they can be so close to cake. Sometimes the substitutions, strategically, are the trick to making them a healthier option so I enjoyed and agreed with your suggestion to sub in coconut oil (which I use so much in cooking and am trying to more in baking) and the yoghurt thinned out with milk idea is great too. Delicious looking photos as always! Inspiring!

  38. Jessica

    I wonder if I could use apples and almonds since that’s what I have on hand. Also chocolate chips. Would this compromise the muffins? Or would they just be moderately different.

  39. Grace

    Mmm they look scrumptious! I didn’t have any hazelnuts on hand but I just HAD to make this, so I changed the recipe a bit by using almonds and almond flour with the oatmeal to make it gluten free (not that I have a gluten allergy but it’s always nice to find a wheat alternative). So far they are looking pretty good in the oven, thanks for sharing the recipe!

  40. monster

    quick question- how should i adjust the time/temp if i’m using a mini muffin pan?

    i hope to try it out this weekend!

    thank you!

    1. deb

      mini-muffin pan — Temperature should be the same. Start checking for doneness at about 12 to 15 minutes.

      MaryFran — Not sure which reference you’re citing but I was probably referring to paper muffin liners.

      sf11 — It’s hard to say without trying it but my hunch is that here, the hazelnuts are about texture and crunch rather than replacing flour, so I don’t think that a hazelnut flour replacement would be good a thing.

  41. amanda

    Now you’re spoiling us with sound affects! Love the trombone. :] (And I’m with you and/or Alex on this one … nearly EVERYTHING is better with chocolate!)

  42. anne

    Everyone deserves a little bit of chocolate for breakfast (I have to admit as I sit here eating a banana bran chocolate chunk muffin for breakfast) – and what better combination than pear and hazelnut. Will have to try these.

  43. Jennifer

    Delicious! I used buckwheat flour & TJ’s gluten-free flour (an odd mix of what was in the pantry). BUT, they are so crumbly, I’m using a spoon & bowl to eat one. Any tips on a “sturdier” muffin? Maybe they just need to cool & set more? Thanks for giving me a yummy Saturday morning recipe!

  44. April

    Looks yummy! The first thing I thought of when I saw this entry was banana nut muffins I used to buy at a now defunct shopping club near me. They used hazelnuts instead of walnuts which I thought was brilliant! They were delicious and I’m sure these are too!

  45. Monica

    A great recipe Deb!
    Made these tonight, ready for breakfast tomorrow and had to test one warm out of the oven. Delicious and not too sweet, so definitely breakfast, though lovely with a dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of brown sugar as dessert.
    I used almond flour and buckwheat flour to make them gf, fat-free greek yoghurt and milk as I forgot to buy buttermilk, and they have a great crumb.

  46. Oh my god these look so good! I’ve never been much of a pear person, but these muffins make me want to give them another go! And I think I shall.

    As always, love your posts and your pictures!



  47. How did you know that I was craving pear and hazelnut?!! I swear, that it creepy. But oh so cool. I win!! Can’t wait to try this!! I’m out of pears but will get some the next time I go shopping. xo

  48. karen on the coast

    **We all know that muffins teeter precariously on a razor-thin line that divides the food categories of “Acceptable for Breakfast” and “Nope, This Is Dessert” and one must maintain firm boundaries during the breakfast hours lest the day that follows devolve…**
    Deb, what an opening salvo, that one sentence paragraph is brilliant, pithy and hilarious!!! Sometimes, I dont know what is more excellent, your recipes or your writing!
    Your post inspired me to share about how I solved my breakfastdessert muffin dilemma. On weekdays, I have workhorse muffins for my-out-the-door, on-the-go-5:30 am breakfast. They have been developed so my day doesnt **…devovle into a full-on bacchanal of Resolution decompensation that ends with one passed out amid scatters of Cheetos, ketchup packets and French fry grease with a side of cronut.** …with cronut being replaced by Timbits up here in Canada.
    I digress. Workhorse muffins. In addition to your fruit and nut combo (mine has apple and almonds), I add flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, raisins or dried cranberries, keep the oats and spices and replace wheat with spelt. To eat, I slice them in four sections, spread on peanut butter, stick them back together and out the door I go with coffee to keep them company. Stick-to-the-ribs brekkie!
    On the weekend, however, the same muffins evolve into dessert, into Cinderella muffins. I still slice them into sections and spread peanut butter on them, but now I also spread on red currant jelly and then, then, I douse the muffin slices — neatly arranged on a favourite plate — with great dollops of vanilla-flavoured whipped cream, sprinkle cinnamon, add flavour secrets to my coffee (like molasses and a hint of cayenne) and voila, guilt-free, calorie-free dessert, because on weekends breakfasts have no calories, right?? Problem solved!! ;-0

  49. Ada

    So I made these for a party and they were delicious, but I decided to make them without chocolate chips. I really think chocolate chips would have taken them to the next level and I won’t make that mistake in the future! It was interesting to see people eating them because nobody guessed they were (of all things) pear and hazelnut.

  50. Made this tonight while working through some grief for a good friend. It both took my mind off of things (as I wished it to do) and doubled as being very meditative (as grating things often does). Didn’t change a thing and the flavors were spot on. Not too sweet, which means they’ll be perfect for the mornings to come. Had leftover buttermilk from your “best birthday cake” recipe (also a huge hit last week), so it all ended up perfectly. I only had 1/2 c of hazelnuts so I toasted some chopped pecans along with and it came out great. Thank you.

  51. tariqata

    As a rule, I don’t make muffins anymore – all too often, I get bored with them before the batch is finished, and they wither away into a sad and moldy fate. I made an exception for these ones and I’m so glad that I did! The pears and oats make them moist and ever so-slightly chewy (the edges of the top reminded me of oatmeal cookies), and the hint of dark chocolate is a great match for the fruit and nuts.

  52. Molly

    If you’re looking for bursting pear flavor, this isn’t your recipe. Mine didn’t taste of pear, and I think I used closer to 1 1/2 cups of nice, tasty firm-ripe pears. Also mine were a bit salty, but in hindsight my hazelnuts were probably salted. I considered dicing the pear but did as told and shredded it, but I wish I would have diced it b/c it may have provided some nice pockets of pear flavor. Definitely still a nice superquick recipe that makes some healthyish breakfast/snacks, but I guess I was optimistically hoping for something as delicious as the pear & chocolate scones but a lot more virtuous. Nice try, self.

  53. Mary

    Not a difficult recipe to work with. Like what Deb said, 2 med pears yielded more than a cup. The muffins came out moist but I did not like the spices too much ( I used cardamom and nutmeg). If I were to make this again, I’d use cinnamon like Deb did.
    Overall a must try if you enjoy muffins.

  54. judith scott

    i have this gnarly habit of beginning a baking experience without ONE essential ingredient. today,it’s whole wheat. i’ve combed this recipe ABOUT one thousand times looking for the word SPELT. i don’t see it. i wish i did. really. so,here i am,hoping you’ll respond,like,right now. but,and this is the query,can one use spelt as the 1/2 cup sub for whole wheat? i won’t do it now,cause i’m too far gone..but in a more perfect world..spelt?
    thank you!

  55. Rebecca

    Don’t forget the salt! Did that today and it made for pretty boring muffins. :( More than edible, but not very exciting at all. Hate that!

  56. Nicole

    Get this…tomorrow morning I will combine your roasted pear chocolate chunk scones with coarse ground hazelnuts. What a perfect breakfast treat while a winter storm takes hold of Chicago! We adore those scones, OMG the scent of them baking and they are so simple to make!!! Adding hazelnuts might just take me into absolute bliss….my kids have it so ah-maze-ingly well!

    Thank you for your fabulous influence in my kitchen, Deb!

  57. Florence

    Sounds delicious. I love hazelnuts ands everything else that is in those a muffins. I like the effect of the first photo. Do you mind sharing which lense you used? Tks a lot

  58. ellina

    These are great! Made them with an apple instead of the pears (pear hater), used cinnamon instead of cardamom, and a mix of olive and sunflower oil instead of the butter. And 70% chocolate. Gorgeous!

  59. Matt

    Six+ years ago a friend introduced me to your blog saying that “she posts recipes I would actually make and has really pretty pictures.” I’m glad this still holds true.

  60. tariqata

    judith scott@108: I’m not Deb, obviously, but I thought I’d respond because I’ve subbed spelt for whole wheat in both quickbread and yeasted recipes before with no difference that I could detect – I think you could use it in these without any problem.

  61. SarahM

    I always try a recipe before commenting, saying “mmm looks awesome” isn’t really the point is it? I made the recipe exactly as indicated however I did use cardamom as it is a favorite of mine. I got 18 regular size muffins (normal everyday, non GIANT muffin tin). This is a great recipe and I finally feel like I made muffins that didn’t come out crazy dense and heavy. My 2 year old also LOVES them. Next time I will use only a pinch to 1/4 tsp of the cardamom, I forgot that it is VERY strong.

  62. Lauren

    I made this in a 8″ square glass brownie pan, because I only have an Ikea muffin tin that inevitably burns the bottoms of my muffins. It took it about 35 min. to cook in the pan, like Marina’s did. I checked it every 5 minutes after the 20 min. mark. I tried to take the skins off the hazelnuts, but in the end, I couldn’t taste the ones that had skins left on. I think this recipe would work great with apples and almonds instead of the pears and hazelnuts, and even could have raisins added in with the fruit instead of the chocolate. I did really like the chocolate chips in it, though. It’s definitely not too sweet for breakfast!

  63. gina maria

    please don’t report me to the authorities, but these delicious smelling muffins are cooling on racks right now and i’m having them for dinner! thanks for all your great food and humor. love, love, love this site. :)

  64. Caz

    I made these as a gift for my friend as muffins of any kind are his favourite thing ever. I too ended up w about 16 of them, and made a few successful changes:
    1-browned the butter as suggested
    2-swapped the ratio of ww to white flour (1c ww, 1/2c white)
    3-used a mix of pecans and walnuts as it’s what I had on hand.

    Also didn’t bother to peel/core the pears just grated them on each side around the core which was both less work and saved me from grating my fingertips on the smallest pieces.

  65. bulla

    Just perfect muffins! We added a splash of orange juice and we chopped half of the pears to bigger chunks, so you really feel it. And we used the small muffins plates – they were gone in an hour. Gonna share this recipe with pleasure :)

  66. Sage

    I just made these this morning. They’re wonderful, but I keep wanting them to taste a bit more like the hazelnuts. I think next time I’ll put in a bit of Frangelico along with the vanilla – any suggestions on how much would be good to add, Deb? (I have my bottle of Frangelico from making your deconstructed Nutella crepe cake for my birthday last year!)

    1. deb

      Sage — That might work, though I’m not sure how much of the flavor will stay behind. Sometimes liquers are tricky once baked; it might just be that there are too many other flavors for the hazelnut flavor to come through; you might reduce the spices instead.

  67. Lisa

    Just made these for breakfast. Very tasty. I did not make them with the chocolate and did not miss it, but probably would have enjoyed it just the same. I did feel that the cardamom flavor was strong so the pear and hazelnut favors did not come out as much as I would have liked. In the future I will cut by half (maybe the nutmeg too?).

  68. Emilie

    I’ve never seen the high temperature (425) then turn down (375) for a muffin recipe. I’ve had great results using it for other foods (meat roasting for instance.) What about this recipe made you choose that technique? Do you do this with other muffins and I haven’t noticed before?

    1. deb

      Emilie — It was actually the choice of the recipe’s author from the book. I have seen this before, but don’t use it consistently. It promotes better browning on top.

  69. sara

    i just awoke early to make these for but somehow completely messed up. the texture is bizarre, neither cake nor muffin and rather rubbery and moist at the same time. i only had unbleached white flour so that’s what i used, but i tried not to over-mix the batter. also i baked them at 425 for about 5 minutes before remembering to turn the temp down. any thoughts which of those factors is responsible for the screw-up? also, to echo comment 126, could you explain the logic behind the 425 degree temp and immediately turning it down? why not just bake em at 375?

  70. I made these muffins last weekend, and blogged about the modifications I made here: I basically tried to make them as healthy as possible, to assuage my guilt for eating muffins for breakfast all week, without sacrificing some of that indulgent feel, and they were a wonderful success! I also have made Megan’s toasted steel-cut oats, and I think that at this point, I have no choice but to buy her book.

    My very own Russian, who is also coincidentally named Alex, sent me a text this morning, raving about these muffins, and he is not one prone to raving! Thank you for posting!

  71. I made the muffins yesterday and loved them–they are even better today! They are moister today and the pear flavor has come through better. I used chopped dates rather than chocolate and I used a sugar I recently discovered while staying in Florida–demerara sugar. It’s fabulous, I even sprinkled some on the batter with the remainder of the nuts. Now I want to try the pear cake you raved about :) Thanks for another winner to add to the Brunch Box!

  72. Jennifer

    I have a solution to your cake vs breakfast dilemma. Make this recipe early in the morning. Today, for example. Pre-coffee, you might say. Then, get distracted and forget to put in the sugar. Ba-da-bing. Problem solved. You can just eat them any old time of the day. Especially if you wisely doubled the recipe, so that you now have lots and lots of unsweetened, accidentally healthy muffins. (As an aside, they really aren’t bad without the sugar. More savory, of course, and my children would argue that they weren’t right somehow. But, truly, they taste pretty good. I can imagine they are really wonderful with the sweet. The pears do add an element of sweetness, and the flavor is very nice) I will be sure to try this again, as per recipe. And perhaps after the coffee next time.

  73. Dear Deb, is it possible to chunk the pears rather than grate them for some extra flavour? The muffins turned out delicious – but my blind taster couldn’t tell they were pear muffins… Thank you!

    1. deb

      Angela — Definitely. However, you’ll have to keep the chunks tiny (perhaps raisin-sized) if you’d like them to soften in the baking time. If you’d like larger chunks, you might try pre-roasting the pears, as I did here. Once they’re par-baked, they’re more likely to finish baking in the short time that muffins require.

  74. Jeanie

    Yum! Made these this morning substituting whole wheat pastry flour for all of the flour, nectarines cut in small chunks for the pear, and yogurt mixed with milk for the buttermilk. Delicious!

  75. Elizabeth

    I made these yesterday and was a little disappointed…the texture and ingredients were agreeable but the taste was lacking and i figured it out…You need to make sure you use RIPE pears, you need their perfume and juice to infuse the muffin to get the most out of the fruit and nut combo. Otherwise, you could sub some of the buttermilk for pear nectar if your fruit is not as ripe as you would need it to be. I will try it again with those thoughts in mind next time.

  76. Helene

    I made these for the second time today – both times they were delicious! I diced the pears instead of grating. The pieces softened fine without roasting them ahead of time. The first time I used butter, the second time I used coconut oil. I used muffin tin liners both times – and both times I found them very greasy on the bottom of the liner when I removed them from the muffin pan. Have you experienced this problem? Any thoughts on why it is happening and how to correct the problem?

    1. deb

      Helene — I don’t remember this so much with these, but I’ve definitely had that experience with other muffin recipes. I think it has more to do with the fact that they’re baked in paper, and paper — as you know from any time you’ve put cookies or potato chips on a napkin — loves to wick away oil. If you absolutely want to avoid it, you could just butter the tins as you would a cake, but then you wouldn’t have a neat wrapper.

  77. Laurie M.

    Made these this morning with transfat- free margarine instead of butter. Omitted chocolate and used 3/4 cardamom and 1/4 nutmeg . Fabulous taste and texture! Will send some with my college age son when he flies back to college after spring break tomorrow!

  78. Sarah

    I only have a grater with pretty small holes, would it be better to dice the pears instead? I could also use a vegetable peeler but I’m thinking that might make the shreds too big. What do you think is best? Thanks!

  79. Randi

    There’s something wrong with me. I couldn’t figure out how shredded cheese fit into these crunchy topped fall muffins! Yeah. That’s the pear. Oops.

  80. Rupi D

    Thanks for a great recipe! I made them w/ Pear and Slivered Almonds and followed the spice blend of 1/4 tsp Cardamom, 1/8 tsp fresh Nutmeg and 1/4 tsp Cinnamon. I used 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract. For flours I did a blend of the 3/4 cup oatmeal, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup almond meal. And browned the butter as you suggested :) They turned out really moist and fluffy, can’t wait to make them again!

  81. Laura

    These are really yummy. Made them as apple walnut using grated unpeeled apples and toasted walnuts chopped fine-ish. Also used olive oil in place of the butter and AP einkorn flour because it’s delicious. I put the oats in with the liquid ingredients while I mixed the dry – got that from another recipe, and it softens and helps integrate the oats. I did turn on the convection oven at the end to brown the tops, and the edges are super yum, as someone else noted. I sprinkled w sugar, not nuts.

  82. AC

    The pear flavor is subtle but I enjoyed the muffins! Very moist and soft. I didn’t add spices because I wanted to taste the pears. Didn’t add nuts or chocolate and the batter made 12 muffins. I would imagine that adding nuts & chocholate would give you more volume to the batter, yielding more than 12 muffins. Would probably use less sugar next time.

  83. Milly

    I’ve been a big fan of your work for a while and I just want to say that these turned out great and were super easy to make! :)

  84. sara

    …what can i say….forgot the eggs….they did come out ok, if maybe a bit flat…main flavor is chocolate, but tasted them while warm, as i needed a cheerer upper fir my blunder…meh

  85. Sandra

    Just made these today – after craving for them all week! They were oh – oh so good! Followed your spice suggestion but accidentally doubled the vanilla extract (oops) – but I couldn’t see that it hurt in the end results. The only thing I would change is to increase the chocolate a bit – but then again I do have a sweet tooth :)

  86. Another recipe going into my list of favorite recipes from Smitten Kitchen!! I have made them a number of times now, with some variations though. I swapped the hazelnuts with pistachios, and added cardamom to it. I ran out of rolled oats, so used oat bran instead. The chocolate chips make it toddler approved! Thank you for a fabulous recipe!

  87. Shannon

    Made these with pecans as I didn’t have hazelnuts, other than that followed the recipe exactly. My temperamental oven combined with toddler induced distraction burnt the first batch at the lowest time indicated (20 mn). Still tasty, though. The additional 7 in the second batch came out perfectly in 16 minutes and at 10 degrees lower.

    1. deb

      I haven’t heard from anyone who has tried it, but in general, many muffin recipes do so it’s worth trying. Do let us know how it comes out, if you can.

  88. Ragnhild

    Made these (with almonds rather than hazelnuts, but otherwise according to recipe), and was disappointed the pear flavor is completely overwhelmed by the nuts and spices (had I included chocolate, would be even more so I imagine). If I made these again I’d increase the pear and add it in chunks rather than grated, and probably also reduce the butter (with the nuts they were a bit greasy for my taste).

  89. Margaret Gurnett

    Good morning Deb, this sounds like another delicious recipe that I must try. Can this recipe be baked in a Loaf Pan instead of a Muffin Pan?

  90. Michele

    HI Deb
    This is my favorite muffin recipe. Question for the sugar do you mean light brown packed sugar?? or just brown granulated


  91. maymie

    i made these and they are delicious though i do think that the baking soda has too much of an after taste (i think its that!). would you have any way of changing that?
    anyway your recipes are pretty much perfect!

  92. winked

    I made these twice recently, both times without the chocolate because I like a “healthier” morning cake, errr, muffin. The first time I made them with Bartlett pears and grated both pears as the recipe prescribes. The muffins were a big hit but the pear was barely discernible. The second time I used D’Anjou pears but only grated one of them; I diced the second and added it to the batter. The end result was way better! The diced pears held up really well, and there was no question that these were pear and hazelnut muffins. Big success!

  93. Christie

    A great variation: I can’t eat pears or hazelnuts, so I subbed apples and toasted pecans. Basic recipe was the same (like Deb, I replaced cardamom with cinnamon) & they turned out delish. Thank you!

  94. Kathleen

    These were delicious! Nutty and moist and flavorful and still delicious for several days after baking. The only change I will make next time will be to add more pear – I used 1 large pear, which yielded one cup shredded pear, and there was a nice moisture to the muffins, but the pear flavor was not noticeable. Next time, I’ll either add more shredded pear, or perhaps 1 c shredded pear + 1 cup pear chopped into small pieces, like in this totally wonderful recipe:

  95. erin

    I made this with 1.5 cups of diced ripe pears, 3 tbsp sugar, all whole wheat flour, yogurt + milk instead of buttermilk, and a mix of pecans, walnuts, and almonds. Came out great! A tiny bit drier than I would’ve liked, but that may have been due to the sugar I cut and the baking process. Next time, I would bake for less than 20 minutes, and use more milk in my yogurt/milk mix.

  96. Rio

    Hello there! I’ve made these muffins before with good results, but this time they either fell or didn’t rise. Any suggestions as to why! (They were still tasty.)
    The pear was pretty juicy- used only a cup- and folded into into the batter at the end.

  97. Science Chick

    Really delicious and interesting! I made these exactly as written — including with cardamom instead of cinnamon. There’s just something about pear-cardamom pairings. I will *definitely* make these again. Also, if yours taste bland, know that the variety of pear matters for flavor: try d’Anjou. Bartlett pears are great for noshing, but they’d probably be a little bland in this recipe.

  98. Paige

    How do you measure nutmeg when you’re freshly grating it? In the picture, it looks as though you’re grating it over your dry mix bowl.

    1. deb

      I trust myself to eyeball the amount after years of measuring. But, you can grate it on to a scrap of waxed or parchment paper and then pour it into a spoon for more accuracy.

  99. Katy

    These are excellent breakfast muffins! Tender, not too sweet, and decently filling thanks to the nuts and whole-wheat flour. I made mine with pecans, not toasted as I don’t think they need it the way hazelnuts do, and dark brown soft sugar, and these two stubbornly woody pears that arrived last week and have been sulking in the fruit bowl ever since. I did put cardamom in – mine is way too old and didn’t really come through even though I ended up putting a whole teaspoon in – and some nutmeg. I realise now that I also forgot the vanilla. So I can confirm that even without most of the spices, these muffins are splendid. I got 12 muffins exactly (1/3 mix cup per muffin). They were nicely rounded and have kept their shape after 25 minutes in the oven on 180 C fan.

    1. Katy

      NB if anyone reads this and is considering reducing the sugar, I really wouldn’t. I often find American cake slightly too sweet for my austere British palate but these are really only just sweet enough not to be savoury as written and that is part of their charm.

      1. Katy

        Oh, I also used a 50:50 mix of Greek yoghurt (v thick) and semi skimmed milk instead of the buttermilk. If you have frozen buttermilk in the fridge, don’t defrost it on high. It WILL be a disaster.

  100. Alexandra J Pool

    I made these yesterday, almost faithfully to the recipe (I had pecans but not hazelnuts, and I used neutral oil instead of butter because I just couldn’t be bothered to melt it), and they’re just so lovely. They have a beautiful, nubby texture with the oats and wheat flour and chopped nuts, and make the chilly fall morning breakfast of my dreams. I don’t know whether I owe it to the oil and my choice of sugar (brown), but they were still so tender and moist despite all the oaty, nutty texture. I’m planning to make these again and again this cold season!!

  101. Jen Jen

    This is such a great recipe. I made it years ago for the first time and just used it again. Swapped pecans for hazelnuts because that’s what I had. Used milk instead of buttermilk so only put in about a half cup. Came out wonderful!! Love that this recipe is so easy to put together. A great winter treat. Thanks Deb!

  102. Katy

    I made a double recipe of this (using all whole wheat flour) which fit perfectly into a 9×13 pan, and baked it at 175C for 45 minutes. The results are delicious: chock full of nuts, not very sweet at all, and with a delicate pear flavour. I will definitely be making this again, as it is a perfect breakfast for me.

  103. Debbie

    I have made these muffins several times now. I saw that someone asked in the comments if overripe kinda mushy pears will work – yes, IMO. I am now thinking of mushy banana. And, I have used both kefir and buttermilk – whatever is in the fridge at the time. Thank you for this recipe. It is becoming my go-to for yummy quickness. BTW, I divide this in 1/2 to get 6 generous muffins.