I begin as many valentines do… with an apology. Alas, it’s true; over two years ago, I wrote a post about the inspiration for my original Love Muffins and then, some posts later, gave you another recipe and promised you something I never delivered: A Love Muffin E-Cookbook. Cookbooks, I have discovered, can be difficult to write. Duh. However, my broken promise hasn’t stopped me from creating muffin recipes, and, eventually, I still plan a seasonal cookbook series of Love Muffins.

But until I make good on that promise, how about another Love Muffin recipe? Kiss and make up?

Actually, these muffins were inspired by a bag of frozen cranberries I had tucked away for the holidays and then overlooked (I do tend to hoard cranberries November through December, and this little bag must have slipped to the bottom of the freezer.). So these muffins are, in many ways, a “long lost love” kind of thing… a nearly forgotten affair from the past. And their flavor is, in my opinion, as nuanced as a well-written, eighteenth-century romance novel.

They begin with homemade cranberry sauce—this version is perhaps the best I’ve ever made and works in many dishes besides these muffins. If there are no long, lost cranberries in your freezer or if you simply don’t have time to make your own, I do believe you can substitute organic canned cranberry sauce or a pie filling such as cherry in this dish and come out just fine. I did a little research and discovered that Pacific Foods makes a packaged Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce. And, you might also look at Omena Organics, growers of organic tart cherries (among other produce) and makers of Organic Montmorency Cherry Pie Filling (So you’d get a chocolate-covered cherry version of this muffin.). Worth a look, I think. Now, shall we reach for those muffin tins?

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Hazelnut Tips

Hazelnuts have a wonderful flavor, but they take a tiny bit of extra effort. Toast your hazelnuts whole in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Keep a nose out—they burn easily, and when their glorious fragrance is discernable, remove them from the oven. Once they cool a bit, you can use a clean kitchen towel to easily rub off most of the brown skin, which can be a little bitter.

Gluten-Free Option

Most of the ingredients in these muffins are gluten free. The only flour that contains gluten is spelt. Spelt is an ancient grain that contains less gluten than modern wheat, but is not gluten free. I love using it in baked goods because it creates a light cakey texture. If you are looking for a muffin that is gluten free, try substituting one and one-half cups of a commercial gluten-free flour mix such as Bob’s Red Mill for the spelt flour and adding a quarter teaspoon of xanthan gum. I have not made them this way, but I’m pretty sure this will work. Let me know if you give it a gluten-free go and how your little love birds liked the recipe!