Do you think carrots get nervous around me? I managed to go a full two years after launching this site to bake with them the first time (classic cupcakes, not egregiously carrot-y) and from there, I haven’t stopped harassing them. They’re in salads with harissa and feta, and roasted with cumin in avocado salads, in savory Japanese fritters and in sweet American breakfast pancakes, in afternoon-ish cakes with apple cider and olive oil, and in celebration layer cakes with graham cracker crumbs and cream cheese frosting. They’re in miso-ginger dressing, and then a miso-ginger soup, and then in another soup-salad twinset with crispy chickpeas and tahini.
These last two are, of course, my favorites because I think carrots and tahini are exceptional together — it was just a matter of time before they collided again in muffin format. And isn’t it timely, too? Tahini, the Middle Eastern paste of ground sesame seeds that’s the “other” ingredient in hummus, baba ganoush, falafel and halva candy, despite having been around since at least the 13th century, is currently having a moment in the food world. These days, it’s the recipient a level of PR ardor previously reserved for kale, and has even launched an artisanal mill in Chelsea Market (that I’m bummed is never open when I do mad dashes through some mornings).
Fortunately, even if you’re (gleefully) outside a foodie media bubble, I think you’re going to love these. Loaded with carrot, the sesame seed paste provides a nutty background flavor and an even more indulgent and pronounced one if you use the glaze. They also keep exceptionally well, so if you make them today you can enjoy them right through the weekend, which is so close, I think we should kick it off right after I hit publish. It works like that, doesn’t it?
More tahini: Fortunately, we here at the SK have always known its greatness, in everything from a warm butternut squash salad, a miso-broccoli bowl, lentil salad, with crushed peas and many delicious cold noodles.
One year ago: Obsessively Good Avocado Cucumber Salad
Two years ago: Asparagus-Stuffed Eggs
Three years ago: Spinach and Smashed Egg Toast
Four years ago: Over-the-Top Mushroom Quiche
Five years ago: French Onion Soup
Six years ago: Tangy Spiced Brisket
Seven years ago: Homemade Chocolate Wafers + Icebox Cupcakes
Eight years ago: Spring Panzanella
Nine years ago: Artichoke Cranberry Bean and Arugula Salad
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: My Old-School Baked Ziti
1.5 Years Ago: Better Chicken Pot Pies
2.5 Years Ago: Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl
3.5 Years Ago: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
4.5 Years Ago: Apple Pie Cookies
Carrot Tahini Muffins
As ever with muffins, I found myself skirting the is-this-cake or is-this-breakfast line. On the breakfast side, do know that these taste excellent with up to a 2/3 (1 1/3 cup) flour swap with whole wheat flour (possibly more, but I only tested them that far). I also ended up retesting them with more carrots than you’ll see the in photos, a full 2 cups (in the final recipe below) to make them even more vegetable-packed. They’re very lightly sweet and practically one-bowl for those of us who do not motivate willingly in the morning. And then there’s the glaze — I’m pretty sure a sweet glaze puts these squarely in the cake-or-afternoon-tea category, and less a breakfast, but that’s for you to decide. Indecisive myself, I only glazed half. Finally, please note that while the tahini provides a nutty background the muffins, the glaze is only for tahini junkies as the flavor is front and center.
Yield: 12 to 14 muffins
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
1/4 cup (30 grams) well-stirred tahini
1/2 cup (80 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk, almond milk or (nonalcoholic) apple cider
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour (see Note)
2 cup packed coarsely grated carrots (from about 9 ounces or 5 slim carrots)
1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
3 tablespoons (25 grams) tahini
2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk olive oil, tahini and brown sugar together in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in eggs, then buttermilk and vanilla. Whisk in baking powder, baking soda and salt, then switch to a spoon or flexible spatula and stir in flour, then carrots, mixing just until combined.
Either line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with paper liners or coat them with a nonstick spray. Fill each about 3/4 of the way with batter. You’ll probably have enough for 2 more after this, so you can hold some back if needed. Bake muffins for 14 to 16 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of each comes out batter-free. Muffins should be domed and lightly golden on top. Let them cool in pan for 5 minutes on a rack before transferring them to the cooling rack to cool completely.
If you’d like to glaze your muffins, whisk powdered sugar, tahini and water together in a medium dish. Either drizzle this over the cooled muffins or dunk them into the puddle. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.