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blueberries

Baking

Simple Rustic Banana Blueberry Muffins

three blueberry banana muffins stacked on cutting board

If you’re like me, muffins are a well-loved treat. My favourite thing about muffins is the wide variety of flavours one can incorporate into a batch. I have had many favourite flavours over the years: Orange Cranberry, Raisin Bran, Raspberry, but my all-time favourite has always been Banana Blueberry Muffins. I love the aroma of the bananas wafting in the air as they are baking. And I love the burst of sweetness that the blueberries bring.

When I was living in Toronto in the 1980’s muffins were all the rage. Muffin recipes were in every cookbook and food magazine (yes, even then I loved reading food magazines and cookbooks). A very popular cookbook was called Muffin Mania – which tells a lot. They were part of the health movement to get people healthier. Muffins were a great vessel for the latest power food: oat flour, bran, dried fruit, avocado oil: you name it, they would be found in muffins. Whatever the latest health craze (no cholesterol, low fat, low sugar, high fiber, etc.) you could bet that particular health idea would find its way into a muffin recipe.

blueberry banana muffins stacked on cutting board

While muffins never did make people healthier, they weren’t a flash food idea, either. Mmmmuffins, a very popular shop selling only muffins, opened up in Union Station in Toronto in the 1980’s and last count, they were still there…busy as ever. While the ingredients may keep revolving, muffins are here to stay. And I’m completely happy with that.

Most muffins in coffee shops, bakeries, and grocery stores are very high in calories with an obscene amount of sugar and fat. So don’t let all that deliciousness fool you into thinking you’re buying something nutritious. Starbuck’s Blueberry Muffins have a whopping 360 calories with 15 grams of fat and 33 grams of sugar. Their Chocolate Chunk Muffins have 440 calories with 21 grams of fat and 39 grams of sugar. That’s a lot. But, muffins can actually be a wholesome healthy snack, if they’re home made. So, if you want to snack on muffins and stay healthy: make your own.  

You can have a lot of fun really, making your own muffins. They really are the perfect item to fill with dried fruit, nuts or seeds and you don’t need a lot of fats or sweeteners to make them taste nice. You can also really bump up the fibre by incorporating wholewheat flour, or extra bran, like my recipe here. They also freeze well and travel well. I often bake muffins for snacks, lunch, road trips, vacations etc., And I’m super happy when I do. They’re also so much cheaper than store-bought.

This muffin recipe is not very sweet. Most of the sweetness comes from the blueberries and bananas. If you like a sweeter muffin, you can add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. or drizzle on a bit of honey.

 

broken up blueberry banana muffins

Also, if you don’t have yogurt, you can also use buttermilk. Or make your own buttermilk by adding one tablespoon of lemon juice to a measuring cup and topping it up with milk until you have 1 cup. That works very well!

three blueberry banana muffins

These Blueberry Banana Muffins are so perfect. They’re not too sweet, and the banana and blueberries give them ample moisture so they’re not too dry. And you can whip them up in no time. The other great thing about muffins, is that they freeze up lovely. If you freeze them individually, you can just grab one out of the freezer and it’s ready to go.  So easy. Bananas and blueberries…what more do you need!

Enjoy!

Pantry Banana Blueberry Oat Muffins

Print Recipe
Serves: 18 Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 very ripe bananas)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup blueberries

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2

Fill muffin trays with paper liners.

3

Mash ripe bananas in a medium bowl.

4

Add buttermilk, egg, honey and oil. Mix together in mixing bowl with a whisk.

5

In another medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

6

Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir briefly until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Don't over mix.

7

Fill paper liners just a little less than full. These muffins don't rise too much.

8

Fold blueberries in gently.

9

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes until lightly golden.

10

Cool in the muffin tray on a rack for five minutes.

11

Remove from tray and cool on a rack.

Baking

Stunning Blueberry Mango Ice Cream Cake

blueberry mango ice cream cake with amaretti biscuits on top

This Blueberry Mango Ice Cream Cake with Amaretti Biscuits is colourful, luscious, and perfect for any occasion. But, it’s exceptionally stunning to serve as an Easter dessert. When it comes to cakes, I tend to lean towards baked cakes. But, ice cream cakes are different: the combination of flavours and textures are alluring; the beautiful colours are uplifting, and the flavour combinations are endless. If you are looking for something to wow your family, make them an ice cream cake. They will love it!

The first time I made an ice cream cake, I couldn’t believe how delicious, easy and professional looking it was.  They are a real showstopper! It’s very exciting when you finally remove the sides of the springform pan and all the layers of ice cream, crust and cookies are unveiled before you eyes. Ice cream cakes are terrific if you are short on time, or need to do your cake preparations in the evening after the wee ones are in bed.

They also stay hidden very well in your freezer. This may not seem like an important issue, but if you’re anything like my family, surprise is key! My Mum made us birthday cakes every year, just like most Mums. But we never got even a sneak peak of the cake until dessert time. I always knew she had baked a cake, because the house smelled so good, but I could never find the cake.  My Mum knew from the look on my face that I was perplexed, but would keep me guessing until the last minute when she brought the cake out all covered in lit candles. So, if you like to keep your cakes hidden until dessert time…this one’s for you!

Of course, this year, ice cream cakes have an added bonus – no flour!

I made this ice cream cake a few years ago for my son’s birthday, and again this year for his 21st birthday. Blueberries are his favourite fruit and mango pairs with them so well – colour-wise as well as in flavour.

Usually, when I make an ice-cream cake, I go to an ice cream shop and buy fun flavours and layer them up. In the future, when shops re-open, you could go that route…and then you have hundreds of flavours to play around with. But with ice cream shops closed, I decided to create my own flavoured ice cream by mixing vanilla ice cream and frozen blueberries and mangoes. Easy peasy!

There are many other flavour combinations you could use, with grocery store ingredients, if blueberry mango doesn’t appeal to you. Just follow the directions below with the fruit of your choice or mix and match ready-made store-bought ice cream flavours. You can’t go wrong with an Ice Cream Cake.

 

graham crust in a springform pan on a wood cutting board

This cake starts off with a delicious buttery crunchy crust of graham cracker crumbs mixed with melted butter and sugar. The crust is baked in the oven for about 15 minutes until slightly golden and aromatic. Try not to eat it straight out of the pan. I dare you!

mango ice cream inside graham cracker crust as the bottom layer of a cake

I chose Mango Ice Cream to be the bottom layer, as I thought the amaretti cookies would be a nice contrast against the blueberry ice cream. You could do it the other way around if you wanted. It would taste just as nice. Can’t find mango ice cream? Read on.

 

blueberry mango ice cream cake

Blueberry Ice Cream is the top layer. So sweet and blueberry-delicious. Can’t find blueberry ice cream? Read on and find out what to do.

amaretti biscuits

I had a quick look for amaretti biscuits in my local grocery store. But none were to be found. In more normal times, I might drive around the city looking for some. Instead, I decided to make my own. Homemade biscuits are actually tastier…more nuttier…less sweet. I think during this crazy lockdown period, we’re all learning to become a little more self-sufficient. And that’s a good thing.

If you can’t find amaretti biscuits, and don’t want to make your own, you could also cover the top with whipped cream (with a bit of sugar added) and sprinkle with coloured sugar or cake sprinkles. Frozen whipped cream is delicious!

 

slice of blueberry mango ice cream cake on blue plate

This cake is so amazingly delicious. It’s the type of dessert that will make all of your the guests at the dining table absolutely silent as they savour the sweet blueberry, tangy mango and crunchy nutty amaretti cookies. So good!

Blueberry Mango Ice Cream Cake with Amaretti Biscuits

Print Recipe
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • CRUST
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or about 12-15 graham wafers)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted)
  • ICE CREAM FILLING
  • 2 litres of vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup mangoes (thawed from frozen or fresh; this can be thawed in the microwave, just don't get the fruit too warm)
  • 1 cup blueberries (thawed from frozen or fresh; this can be thawed in the microwave, just don't get the fruit too warm)
  • 1/3 cup whole blueberries (optional)

Instructions

1

CRUST: Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2

Blitz graham crackers either in a blender or food processor until reduced to crumbs.

3

Pour crumbs into a bowl and stir in sugar.

4

Stir in melted butter until all incorporated.

5

Pat the crumb mixture into a 8" springform pan. Make sure the crumb mixture goes up the side of the pans. Try to spread the mixture evenly and not very thick, especially on the bottom and where the sides meet the bottom. If it's too thick, it will be very difficult to cut when serving.

6

Bake the crust in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, until golden in colour.

7

Place baked crust on rack and let cool until cold (about 30 minutes).

8

ICE CREAM FILLING: Remove vanilla ice cream from freezer and let it soften on the counter for 5-15 minutes, depending on how frozen it is when you remove it. You want to be able to scoop it out very easily.

9

If you are using frozen fruit, thaw the fruit in the microwave. If you don't have a microwave, you will have to start to thaw the fruit much earlier (such as in a container or zip lock bag in warm water in the sink).

10

Blitz the mango for the first layer on its own either in a food processor or a blender. If you don't have either of those, you can mash the fruit with a fork or potato masher. The texture is up to you. I blitzed mine until it was pureed, but the fruit can also be roughly smashed - that would be fine.

11

Stir the mango into the ice cream in a bowl or blitz in a food processor or blender, until the fruit is fully incorporated. For a marble effect, partially mix, so that there are swirls of fruit throughout the ice cream.

12

Pour the ice cream onto the cold graham cracker crust.

13

Cover with saran wrap and place level in the freezer.

14

After about 1-2 hours, when the first layer is semi frozen, you can repeat steps 8-11 with the blueberries. I stirred in some whole frozen blueberries with the pureed mixture. But that is completely optional.

15

Sprinkle the second layer of ice cream with the amaretti cookies.

16

Freeze the cake for several hours until very firm.

17

Prior to serving, remove the ice cream cake about 10 minutes before serving.

18

Slice carefully with a sharp knife and serve.

19

After serving, cover the remainder of the cake snugly with saran wrap and place in the freezer until the next time.

20

If covered properly, and kept frozen between servings this cake will keep in the freezer for a few weeks.