Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Caramel Corn Muffins

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

Do you still have some browned butter caramel corn left from yesterday?
Let's make muffins with it. Just for fun. 

Part of my internship last summer involved developing recipes using a product featured in the Hy-Vee HealthMarket ad.  One week I came across a bag of all-natural, gluten-free caramel corn and decided to use it in a recipe.  I had heard of grinding up popcorn and using it in place of flour and decided this was the perfect time to try it out for myself.  I ended up coming up with a recipe for caramel corn muffins.  I tweaked the recipe a little more and used the browned butter caramel corn from yesterday's post.  Since it's Weird Recipe Wednesday I decided to mix up the flavors a bit and and go with a chocolate chai caramel corn muffin.

The other factor that makes this post weird is the pictures.  I've been playing around with my camera but still have a long way to go.  I thought I'd fixed improved a few problems until I saw the pictures on the computer screen. I don't understand it well enough to explain it to you, but I'll give it a shot.

Most of my pictures seem to be underexposed (not enough light). To compensate I tried opening the aperture more (smaller f/stop number) to allow more light in.  I thought this was helping but it seemed to make the photos more grainy.  I should have adjusted the ISO and shutter speed as high ISO also contributes to grain and noise.  Obviously, I don't have the right balance of aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know.  Sometimes it's hard to even know where to start.

To make things even more confusing I decided to start playing around with an editing program.  I tried adjusting the lighting and ended up with the weird mix you see here.  I really need to spend some time learning how to read the histograms. But if I had to choose, I'd rather get a better grasp of how to set up the picture in the first place and eliminate any editing.  Both will come in time with lots of practice, but let's get back to these muffins.

The caramel corn is finely ground to make a fluffy "flour".  It adds sweetness and a little texture, but for the most part it dissolves right into the batter.  A slight caramelized sugar crunch on the top of each muffin is all that remains while the rest of the caramel corn hides in these soft, moist, fluffy muffins.

I've made oatmeal chocolate chai cookies before and loved the flavor combination.  The spices in chai tea pair perfectly with chocolate.  So far, may favorite blend of chai is a vanilla chai tea.  I thought I grabbed a bag for these muffins but didn't realize until I was taking pictures that I hadn't used chai at all.  I accidentally used a bag of french vanilla tea and missed out on all the chai flavors.  I'd love to tell you how hints of spice mingle with caramel and  mini chocolate chips, but I didn't have enough caramel corn to make these again. The french vanilla tea didn't have enough flavor to pick up on so I would suggest using one or two bags of your favorite chai tea.  If chai isn't your thing then feel free leave it out and add a few extra chocolate chips instead.

Chocolate Chai Caramel Corn Muffins
makes 12 muffins

8 cups caramel corn
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 chai tea bags, optional
1 large egg
1 Tbsp canola oil
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp milk
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

* Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners and spray with non-stick spray.
* Place caramel corn in food processor and pulse until finely ground.
* In a large bowl, combine ground caramel corn, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. If using, cut open tea bag(s) and pour in spices; stir to combine.
* In a small bowl, whisk together egg, oil and milk.
* Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in liquid mixture. Stir just until combined; fold in chocolate chips.
* Fill prepared muffin cups with batter and bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Food for Thought: "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." -Ambrose Redmoon

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