THE ISLAND COOK

CLEMENTINE, DATE & NUT MUFFINS

These generous, squidgy muffins are another creative use for those budget nets of clementines (or opt for mandarins if they're a better deal), along with some of the nuts from that knocked-down bag I plundered for the Mint Choc & Nut Biscotti. And there may be one of those retro boxes of semi-dried dates on offer, or you could have some dried dates still hanging about from festive baking. Remnants of mixed peel and a slug or two of sherry (best to use this up quick, as it goes sludgy surprisingly swiftly) or ginger wine are also likely storecupboard booty. Chuck it all together and bake up something heart-warming and yet heart-healthy, since again there is no added fat here.

Makes 12

90g shelled mixed unsalted nuts
375g clementine segments (any hanging bits of white pith removed)
75g stoned semi-dried dates (any hard, stalky bits removed) or soft dried dates, cut into small pieces
about 5 tbsp ginger wine or sherry, or juice from the clementines
2 large eggs, beaten
125g wholemeal flour
125g white plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
40g soft light brown sugar
25g mixed peel

SAM_0018 (1)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin paper cases. This is optional, but to perk up the nuts, spread them out on a baking sheet and shove in the oven for about 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Leave to cool, then roughly chop. If you're using small or chopped nuts such as peanuts or walnut pieces, toast in a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat on the hob, shaking the pan frequently, for about 5 minutes. Leave to cool.

Chop the clementine segments fairly finely, discarding any pips, and drain off the juice. Reserve for puréeing the dates or, if you're going the booze route, glug it down there and then. Put the fruit in a bowl. Put the dates in a blender or small food processor and process with the booze or juice (add just enough for the blades to work) to a purée. Add to the clementine flesh with the eggs and beat together with a fork. Sift the flours, bicarb and spices into a separate bowl, then stir in the sugar, mixed peel and nuts. Gently fold into the wet ingredients just until no obvious lumps of flour can be spotted but don't overmix. Fill the muffin cases about three-quarters full and bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. They will keep in an airtight container in the cool for 3–4 days.