Sunday, November 23, 2014

French Vanilla Pear Muffins

I love making muffins. Simple ingredients are mixed with fruit and in less than thirty minutes home-baked-happiness-happens. 

These vanilla pear muffins are a delicious riff on a great recipe I found on allrecipes website. Instead of yogurt, I use creme fraiche, giving them a welcome French twist. If you can't find creme fraiche, sour cream would work too. I find creme fraiche at Trader Joe's and lots of other markets these days. I also tweaked the other ingredients, omitting the pecans in the original recipe, and bumping up the vanilla. The muffins bake up golden brown and so moist. The vanilla really works with the pears. They're my new favorite.    

French Vanilla Pear Muffin Recipe 

Adapted from allrecipes Vanilla Pear Muffins: Makes 12 Muffins


Some Notes

I'd suggest using a firm but ripe large pear here, not a mushy one. This way the muffins will be nicely studded with pieces of pear. 

I use my vanilla sugar in this recipe, which makes them taste warm and wonderful. White sugar is just fine too. The vanilla sugar recipe is below the muffin recipe.

They freeze well. Just pop in the microwave directly from the freezer to have for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.  


1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup my vanilla sugar or regular white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

1/2 cup corn oil

1 large egg

2 1/2 teaspoons of real vanilla extract

1 large pear, peeled, cored and diced


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 12 muffin cup pan with a little butter or spray with baking spray.

In a large bowl, stir the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, mix the creme fraiche, corn oil, egg and vanilla extract until combined. Add the diced pears and stir again. Stir the creme fraiche mixture into the flour mixture until the batter is just combined. Don't overmix. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350. Bake the muffins until they're golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle of one comes out clean. They should take about 18-25 minutes to bake. Serve them warm.

Bon Appetite!

xo ~ Jilly

I make real vanilla sugar regularly to use in baked goods, hot chocolate, tea, pancakes, oatmeal and candy making. It’s absolutely delicious in coffee or sprinkled on fresh fruit too. The delicate taste and aroma of real vanilla beans cannot be beat. It smells exotic and familiar at the same time.
Vanilla seems to remind people of simpler times and days gone by. Nostalgia is never a bad thing in this hectic, modern world. Knowing it’s hanging around my kitchen makes me happy.
Vanilla Sugar makes a special holiday gift too. Put it a glass mason jar tied with a colorful bow. Add a label. Viola, instant homemade gift.

Vanilla Sugar Recipe 

Adapted from Jacques Pepin’s book Essential Pepin 
Some Notes: 
This recipe can be made entirely with raw cane sugar or regular white sugar or a combination of both. I use what I have in my cupboard, most of the time it’s a bit of both. I like the combination of natural cane sugar and white sugar. The cane sugar adds a molasses note.

  • 4 cups of natural cane sugar or white sugar or a mix of both. I like Trader Joe’s brand of cane sugar.
  • 2-3 vanilla beans. I buy fresh Madagascar Penzeys Vanilla Beans  because they're high quality, soft and fabulous. You can add more vanilla beans for a stronger flavor and aroma.
  1. Take the tip of a knife and split the vanilla beans open lengthwise. Scrape the teeny tiny black seeds from the inside of the vanilla beans. Place the soft seeds and the split beans in a bowl with the sugar. Stir to combine. Store in an airtight container. You can use the sugar at this point or continue on to step two.
  2. Once the beans are dry (this may take a few weeks), take them out of the sugar. Then grind them up in a food processor or spice grinder to a fine powder and place the ground beans back into the sugar. Mix to combine. You don’t have to do this step, but it does add more delicious vanilla flavor to the sugar. Add more sugar and vanilla beans as needed. Keep a steady supply going by following this method.

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