Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Saturday mornings in Urbana meant a lot of things: math tutoring, soccer games, but mostly breakfast. My drink of choice was--and still is--hot chocolate, but not just any hot chocolate. My chocolate powder just had to be Nestle, and from France. Nestle chocolate powder was a very important component of the sacred food suitcase brought back from France twice a year, along with Carambar caramels and assorted cookies, soups, etc.

Nestle chocolate powder has a main advantage: when it's -20 degrees Celsius in Urbana, it can be added to hot milk. When it's 40 degrees Celsius, the magic of Nestle is that it's just fine with cold chocolate milk as well. Conveniently, one of my favorite treats with both hot and cold chocolate milk is lemon poppyseed muffins. Storebought and delicious, they were perfect; sort of sticky and just the right consistency with chocolate milk. Especially when dipped in milk, they became even softer but didn't fall into the mug, which, all the dippers out there will agree with me, is oh-so-important.

On a side note, some people find that dipping pastries in milk or cafe au lait is something "qui ne se fait pas", or completely devoid of savoir-vivre. I really couldn't care less, and don't fully appreciate a good pain au chocolat, croissant, or lemon poppyseed muffin if it can't be dunked into a mug of chocolate milk.

Anyway, I had been wanting to recreate the taste of those Saturday mornings for a while, and finally decided to give it a try. After marveling at the price of poppyseeds around here (here being the West Village), I ended up with all the ingredients necessary for the perfect muffins from the America's Test Kitchen book (notice a trend?). The batter smelled of fresh lemons and was more than promising.

Like all things linked to a specific food memory, you can hardly ever make them as good as they are in your mind. My muffins were really quite delicious--tasty, soft with a little crumble, crunchy but not too much so with the poppyseeds--but they still lack that special something. I'm thinking maybe I should use oil instead of butter, but that will be for another day. In June I'll be back in Urbana for a few days and who knows, maybe my muffins will be there, waiting for me on a warm Saturday morning just like they did 10 years ago.

(Of course I forgot to take a picture.)
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