When other kids were playing team sports after school, I was enmeshed in music. Piano lessons, music theory classes, clarinet lessons, clarinet ensemble, piano practice, clarinet practice, eisteddfods, music festivals. I’d also sing to my mum as she played chauffeur, although it wasn’t until last year that I took up singing in a less haphazard way.
A large portion of my childhood memories relate to music. The friends I made through clarinet, the first piano teacher who scared the willies out of me and the second piano teacher who became a dear friend. The nauseating butterflies before piano and clarinet exams (less so theory exams), and the giddiness afterwards when I got to call my grandparents and dad and tell them that, thank heavens, I hadn’t “failed” by getting less than top marks. (But this isn’t the place to talk about ridiculous over-achieving perfectionist tendencies.)
I remember once, after a piano exam, Mum and I stopped at a cafe to celebrate my results with something sweet. I remember standing at the bakery case and pointing to an individual pecan pie, drawn in by its golden-brown nuts bathed in a glossy sugar syrup.
I remember not liking the pecan pie at all. It was too cloying and too one-note, and the pastry base was stodgy, crumbling, and lacking in flavour. Yet despite this disappointment, I held out hope for one day finding a pecan pie that tasted like I dreamed it would.
These Coconut Pecan Pie Muffins aren’t a true pecan pie, but by golly gee whiz willikins! They are rich and sweet and nutty and cinnamon-tinted and glorious and definitely a dessert-muffin rather than a breakfast-muffin which is always a good thing.
The dessert-aspect is why I ate most of these muffins warmed up in the microwave with a hearty scoop of Vanilla So Good soy ice cream. (Well, I also ate them this way because following the original recipe’s baking time resulted in uncooked-at-the-bottom muffins that I wasn’t comfortable taking to work as per my original plan and therefore had to warm up to cook a little bit more to eat all by myself, but shhhhh. We shan’t speak of that.)
My first pecan pie experience may have made my heart cry, but these gluten-free and dairy-free Coconut Pecan Pie muffins taste like what I imagine the acme of pecan pies would taste like. Except better, because of the crackly top, moist, soft, nut- and coconut-studded crumb, and dairy-free ice cream.
Plus, I didn’t have to steel myself against the stern eyes of an AMEB examiner to get to these muffins. That’s a win right there.
Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Coconut Pecan Pie Muffins
Adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Makes 8 (next time I might try making 10-12 smaller muffins)
- 1 cup (220g) packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (75g) gluten-free flour (I used Orgran. Normal flour will also work.)
- 3/4 cup (80g) chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup (35g) shredded/desiccated coconut
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2/3 cups softened dairy-free spread or butter (I used Nuttelex)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and/or line a muffin pan.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, gluten-free flour, pecans, coconut, and cinnamon.
- In a separate bowl, beat the Nuttelex and eggs together until smooth. (I recommend using hand-held electric beaters for this. I started out with my arm and a whisk, and That. Was. Stupid.)
- Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups until they’re about 2/3rds full. (You may want to make more than 8; I should have, in retrospect.)
- Bake muffins for 25-35 minutes*, until cooked through. Leave muffins in tins for 5 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
* Yes, I know this is a huge time difference, but I baked mine for about 28 minutes and they were, as mentioned above, still very gooey (read: uncooked) at the bottom. Depending on your oven and whether you make 8, 10, or 12 muffins, you may want to cover the tops with foil and bake them for longer. I will confidently state, however, that these coconut pecan pie muffins are incredibly delicious even when not entirely cooked through.