Christina's Cinnamon Orange Date Muffins


If you've got a sweet tooth, and somehow you don't like dates, chances are you haven't tried them the right way yet. Stuffed with goat cheese and baked (wrapped in pancetta if you really want to go indulgent) they make an impeccable, impressive yet easy appetizer that thrilled me to bits when I was introduced to it in its delectable simplicity, only this past holiday season (thanks, Robin!).  They're great paired with chicken, as in Moroccan cooking.  Chopped and tossed in oatmeal, salads, breads, bars, and cookies, they pack a sugary punch that doesn't take much to satisfy.  Fiber-full and rich in potassium, as well as a variety of B-complex vitamins, dates are so richly sweet, they're a tasty natural alternative to granulated sugar for many recipes when ground up as "date sugar".  The other week, I had leftover dates from making a batch of my friend Christina's favorite whole wheat date cookies (more on this another time, as I'm planning to experiment with a new version of these using homemade date "sugar"). I also happened to have just the smallest amount of leftover homemade orange marmalade, and conveniently decided I wanted muffins. Here's the result, dedicated to Christina. First, let me briefly present my dear friend Christina, whose wholly open-hearted kindness and compassion deserve many practice runs on this, and a whole spectrum of date recipes forthcoming. I've often described her as "Mother Goose in the flesh", which definitely captures an aspect of her personality, but is far too one-dimensional for this multi-lingual, hip librarian and Robert Pattinson devotee. Christina has endured trials you'd never imagine when face to face with  her warm, motherly countenance, and has bravely re-created her life's vision. For one, she back to school and completed her Master's degree in library science at age (blank). She's your cookie-baking nurturer one minute and your O.A.R. fellow groupie the next. She's also currently the only person who is not just trustworthy, but willing to babysit our eccentric, anxiety prone, cuddly but unpredictably nippy, monster-jawed little dog! Last weekend, Christina watched Riley (and fattened him up a little...but we can accept that), and the date muffins and cookies were part of our thank you. Since Christina loves dates, values nutrition, and is careful about portion sizes, I made these in mini-muffin tins, which I felt were the perfect size, given dates can become sickly when overloaded. You can also make them in regular muffin tins, just adjust the baking time as needed, adding about 10 minutes.

Cinnamon-Orange Date Muffins

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour *or use all whole wheat pasty flour and leave out the white altogether
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade (or, increase honey and leave out the marmalade, including 1 tablespoon orange zest if you like in its place)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/3 cup plain or vanilla lowfat yogurt
  • 3/4 cup skim milk OR orange juice (I used milk in the first round, but orange juice should work well, too)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup chopped dates

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a bowl, combine flours and baking powder.

3. Make a well in the center and add remaining ingredients through olive oil. Stir to combine. Add in dates and stir to mix through.

4. Divide mixture evenly into a 24-cup mini muffin pan coated with cooking spray (or a 12-cup muffin pan). Bake until lightly golden brown, about 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted cleanly in center.