Featured Ingredient: Dried Tart Cheeries
If George Washington was a nutritionist he would have never felled his dad’s cherry tree. If there ever was a fruit deserving of its “superfruit” epithet it would be tart cherries. Sometimes called sour, or pie cherries, tart cherries (Prunus cerasus) are well-endowed with anthocyanins, potent antioxidants responsible for cherries’ rosy hue and believed to ease inflammation, oxidative stress and slow mental decline. For athletes, a number of studies have suggested that these anthoycanins can expedite post-exercise muscle recovery. It turns out that tart cherries contain more antioxidants than their sweeter counterparts -Bing and Rainer cherries.
Up here in Ontario, fresh local tart cheeries are starting to pop up at markets. Year round, however, you can rely on the dried versions. Keep a stash on-hand and toss them into pilafs, cooked quinoa, chili, salads, coleslaw, oatmeal, yogurt, DIY granola, trail mix, PB sandwiches, and baked good batters.
The ones I used for this recipe were from Sun-Maid, which have good flavor.
For these gluten-free muffins, I decided to blend the cheeries with cherry juice and use the mixture to add moisture and cut back on the need for added sugar. I’m still trying to learn the nuisances of gluten-free baking as these turned out a little dry. Next time, I would probably bump up the oil. Any gluten-free experts out there have some suggestions?
Gluten-free Cherry Mint Chocolate Muffins
1 cup cherry juice
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup mint
1 1/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon guar gum or xanthum gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup water
In a small saucepan, bring cherry juice to a simmer. Remove from heat and add dried cherries and mint. Let sit for 30 minutes. With a fork, fish out the mint and discard. Add cherry juice and soaked cherries to a blender or food processor and process until dried cherries have broken down.
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine flours, flaxseed, cocoa, gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs. Stir in cherry mixture, sugar, oil and water. Add dry to wet and mix gently. Divide mixture among 12 muffin cups and bake for 18 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool before unmolding.