I've had a hard time getting rid of the junky blender I bought for my dorm room when I was 18. Only because it still functioned (to the best of its pathetic ability, that is - put a chunk of hard-frozen mango in there and it just spins around like Toto in a twister). Then one day recently I destroyed the blades doing this with a jar that was too small.
How fortuitous that shortly after cheapo kicked the bucket, Vitamix offered me their highly coveted 7500 model blender for review and recipe development.
Beauty and power combine in this machine, folks.
Knowing its strength, I expected a more industrial feel. But the finishing is very clean and soft. The components are minimal and simply sit together - no finicky screwing and adjusting of pieces. The controls and handle are velvety and ergonomic. And the new, shorter shorter (BPA free!) container doesn't feel intrusive on my counter. Also, this model boasts vibration dampening, which cuts the noise in half. Super easy cleanup, too, and no hidey-holes for bacteria to flourish.
Given the 2.2 horsepower motor, I probably shouldn't have led with "it's pretty". But I really don't know much about horses or their power. However, you really don't need to. All you need to do is turn this thing on to variable one, slowly increase to three... and you'll be like "whoa, Seabiscuit". It took me a few days to work up to ten. And then I was hooked for life.
I've been on a total blending bender.
Kamut berries? Flour. Toasty almonds? Almond butter. Spice-roasted cauliflower and broth? The silkiest soup ever out of my kitchen. Steamed chicken breast + water? A puree that rivals the super-smooth texture of strained, jarred baby food. Frozen mangoes + milk? Creamy mango sherbet.
You can swap in any nut flour for about 1/3 of the amount of all purpose in most muffin (or cake, or cookie) recipes. It offers an amazing moist, chewy texture and a deep toasty, nutty flavour. Not to mention a nutrition boost - protein, fibre, healthy fats - particularly if we're talking about breakfast muffins.
That brings me to the muffins at hand which accidentally swerved toward dessert muffins (okay, fine, cupcakes) somewhere between the chocolate chips and the confectioners' sugar.
They. Are. Amazing.
The muffin is moist and crumbly. The flavour is deeply hazelnutty. The crunchy top and soft interior are studded with bits of dark chocolate.
Morning or afternoon, they beg a fancy cappuccino.
You start by toasting the hazelnuts to coax out their richest flavour. The toasted nuts are then treated to a vigorous rub-down in a tea towel to remove their bitter skins. Then into the Vitamix they go. A bit of sugar helps absorb some oil, preventing a nut butter situation. In just a few pulses, you'll have fluffy hazelnut flour, with the consistency of fine cornmeal.
The liquid ingredients are whirred in the blender, too - because I like a minimal clean-up deal.
I found they benefitted from a snowing of confectioners' sugar as a final flourish, but leave it out if you need to in order to feel better about cupcakes for breakfast.
- Cook Time
- Prep Time
- 12 muffinsServings
- 1 1/2 cups whole + 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 2/3 cup + 3 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, or chopped dark chocolate + additional for topping, if desired
- Confectioners' sugar for dusting, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease well.
Spread the 1-1/2 cups whole hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until toasty and fragrant (you'll see the skins start to split, and the skin will get a shade darker). Dump toasted nuts onto a clean dish towel. When cool enough to handle, wrap them up in the towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins - it takes a bit of muscle, don't get discouraged - just keep rubbing. It's okay if not all the skin comes off. Transfer hazelnuts to Vitamix container, along with 3 tbsp of the granulated sugar. Select variable 1 and increase gradually to variable 3 or 4. Pause every few seconds and, with the blades switched completely off, scrape down the sides of the container with a spoon. Repeat a few times until nuts are ground a fine meal.
Transfer hazelnut flour to a large bowl. Whisk in remaining 2/3 cup sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.
Add milk, melted butter, egg, and vanilla to Vitamix container (no need to wipe it out). Start on variable 1 and increase slowly to 4, until completely blended, about 3 seconds.
Pour milk mixture into hazelnut mixture; use a light hand and a rubber spatula to fold the two together. When just a few flour streaks remain, fold in chocolate.
Divide among prepared muffin cups and sprinkle with the 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts and a few chocolate chips. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly pressed.Cool on wire racks, then dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.