Goats and Kiwis Muffin’

In dessert on 04/09/2009 at 9:25 pm

Recently I’ve been putting goat cheese on everything. It’s replaced cream cheese as the topping for my bread. Smeared with Smuckers strawberry preserves on a bialy, it’s like an open-faced danish. Love the stinky funk, that light whiff of gamey goodness. Goat cheese is the poor man’s lamb, made even cheaper by getting it from East Village Cheese. Their cold case in front is usually stocked full of several different brands, all pennies compared to Zabar’s or Whole Foods where a small block can easily run $10.

The one I like best so far is Snøfrisk, made by Tine, a Norwegian company that also makes Jarlsberg, which we indulge in as a camping trip snack food. Snøfrisk is spreadable, and not as crumbly as normal goat cheese with its combo of 80% goat and 20% cow. “In 1830, the Swiss came to Norway’s Jarlsberg and Laurvig County (known as Vestfold County today) to teach the Norwegians to make cheese. These foreign master cheese makers were famous for making cheese with holes. There was active production in Norway until 1832. The cheese disappeared but the tale of its delicious taste was still in memory.

In 1956, the academic community at the Agricultural University of Norway at Ås undertook the task of reviving the cheese recipe from 1830. Professor Ole Martin Ystgaard and his team developed during his research a semi-hard, medium-fat cheese with holes, successfully combining the cheese-making traditions with modern technologies. The new cheese was named Jarlsberg after the county, where the earlier version had been made at the beginning of the 19th century. A new cheese category was established.”

When I was in Norway, I remember it was all types cheese just this side of stinky, and smoked or pickled fish. The fjords were sparkling in their silent majesty, much like the grass-topped roofed houses. And the air, so crisp, like biting into a Winesap apple just at the peak of freshness. Leave it to the Norwegians to come up with a sturdy QQ cheese like Jarlsberg, and now Snøfrisk, a practical goat cheese. Being Scandinavian must mean being simple yet polished, a distillation of the essence of efficiency. They bring just a touch of ethnicity to the normally white-washed Caucasian.

Growing up in the pre-Whole Foods era, a trip to Pavilions was a treat. Pavilions was a pioneer in the guise of a supermarket. It was food shopping-as-experience, what with its winding mazes of aisles, mood lighting, and smooth poured faux-cracked concrete floor, an übermarket, if you will. Every time I went, I’d have to get a plastic container of four gigantic kiwi muffins. They were bright green with a crunchy sugar and browned top, oh so very tasty. This was back when I could eat four bowls of rice and still be hungry afterwards. They tasted like a cupcake, but tangy and heartier, with black seeds speckled throughout. I’d always rip open the box and slice my finger on that plastic to get at those muffins. Whoever came up with that pseudo-button scalloped packaging really had a sadistic streak.

Here is my mash-up of my current obsession, goat cheese, and my memory lane kiwi muffins from Pavilions. Initially, the resident baker tried the muffin recipe in America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, but it uses yogurt, normally a substitute for eggs. How very uncharacteristic of them to use a stand-in for the real thing. Their recipe yielded a flour-y and not cake-y tasting product; it didn’t have the right mouth feel. We usually use yogurt for No Pudge! Fudge brownie mix, which turns out great, so that’s why we were so shocked that the muffin wasn’t good enough. So we fiddled around with the recipe. Presenting: Goats and Kiwis, Muffin’.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup whole milk
3 drops green food coloring
5 kiwis (easy way to remove flesh, cut in half and scoop out with spoon, like an avocado)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 brick goat cheese any flavor

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin/cupcake pans or use paper liners.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture, alternating and milk.

Mash chopped kiwis. Fold into batter. Don’t overmix or else the baking powder loses its rising power.

Fill muffin cups immediately. Drop two chunklets of goat cheese in batter, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven when almost done since they will continue cooking in the hot pans, and remove from pans when cool enough.

tasty too

  1. Hi, interesting post. I have been pondering this issue,so thanks for posting. I’ll certainly be subscribing to your blog.

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