Three-Bite Gouda and Cherry Muffins

Not sure why I have a penchant for small versions of things these days. I think it must have started with James's sweet little baby food jars, followed by Gaby's mini frittatas I posted a couple of days ago. Incidentally, I met Gaby the following day, as well as Cary of Delicious Days, another favorite, at a food photography workshop given by the fabulous Helen of Tartelette! I'm feeling inspired and all warm and smiley from spending an afternoon with these very gifted women.

So back to the muffins. Because I didn't want a bunch of these full-size muffins lying around the kitchen all day, I decided to half the recipe and make them little. I guess I feel better about having several when they're smaller. I love falling for my own half-brained rationalism. And they were so good, that several I did indeed have! I'm anxious to experiment with different cheeses and dried fruits. I adapted the recipe from Mary Cech's Savory Baking, one of my favorite books at the moment. She calls for Sharp Cheddar, which I didn't have. But there was Gouda! Cheddar would probably make for more flavor, but alas, sometimes you have to work with what you've got.

                   1/2 cup dried cherries
                   1 cup all-purpose flour
                   1 cup grated Gouda cheese
                   1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
                   1/2 tablespoon baking powder
                   1/2 teaspoon salt
                   1/2 cup whole milk
                   1 egg
                   1/8 cup canola or vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter and lightly flour the inside of 8 small muffin cups. Put the cherries in a small bowl and pour enough hot water over them to cover the tops. Set aside for 10 minutes; then drain.

Put the flour, cheese, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and gently stir just to blend the ingredients. Whisk the cherries, milk, eggs and oil together in a small bowl. Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and stir together just until a soft, wet dough forms.

Spoon the dough evenly into each muffin cup. Bake until the tops are lightly browned and spring back when gently touched in the center, about 18-20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

When the muffins are cool, turn the pan upside down and tap the corner of the pan on the countertop to release each muffin. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or refrigerate for 4-5 days. Warm the muffins by splitting them in half and putting them under a broiler or in a toaster oven until lightly browned.

Makes 8 small muffins.

Adapted from Mary Cech, Savory Baking.

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