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Chocolate, pistachio, and pecan muffins

(Béatrice Peltre)
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March 19, 2008

The high paper baking cups you see in stylish bakery cases - and now widely available in cookware shops (at Sur la Table in The Mall at Chestnut Hill, 617-244-0213, they're 25 to 50 cents each) - will make the simplest confections look quite professional. These rigid individual molds are brown with a gold floret design and available in round, rectangular, star, tall, shallow, and large shapes. They're microwave safe and heatproof up to 450 degrees. These little cakes are flavored with bittersweet chocolate, pecans, and pistachios. They use both all-purpose flour and almond flour (Bob's Red Mill is widely available, including at Whole Foods Market). The result is wonderful firm-textured treats. Finish with confectioners' sugar and tie a raffia ribbon around each paper. The muffins keep well for a few days but might not last that long if they're within easy reach.

Makes 6

Butter (for the molds)
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for the molds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split
7 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate (70 percent cacao), chopped coarsely
1/3 cup pecans, chopped coarsely, plus 6 extra pecan halves
1/3 cup unsalted shelled green pistachios, chopped coarsely
Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter 6 round individual paper cups or a regular muffin tin. Coat inside surfaces with sugar, tapping out the excess.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the mixture.

3. In an electric mixer, beat the butter for 1 minute. Add the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and beat for 1 minute more, or until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one by one. Add the milk and beat just until combined. With the mixer set on its lowest speed, slowly beat in the flour mixture.

4. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Fold in the chocolate, chopped pecans, and 1/4 cup of the chopped pistachios. Divide the batter among the baking cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Top with 1 pecan half each and some of the remaining pistachios. Bake the muffins for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let them cool in the molds. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Béatrice Peltre

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