Gluten-Free Vegan Cranberry Orange Muffins with Maple Pecan Topping
VEGAN | GLUTEN-FREE | OIL-FREE | REFINED SUGAR-FREE | EASY | BREAKFAST | SNACK | DESSERT | FALL | WINTER
Cranberry sauce is a holiday favorite, bnut cranberries aren’t just for the holidays. In fact, I will take the combination of cranberries, oranges, and pecans anytime throughout the fall and winter - it’s such a delicious flavor combination, that tart berry with the mellow orange and caramely cozy-by-the-fire vibe of pecans.
This recipe boasts those delicious flavors (plus an option for bourbon, people) while being oil-free, gluten-free, vegan, and refined sugar-free. Don’t worry, they’re all this and still feel like a treat! These muffins are wonderful with either dried or fresh cranberries, it just depends on your preference and access. The dried cranberries make for a sweeter muffin, while the fresh add a nice tartness to contrast the sweet notes in the muffin and topping. It’s the second week of January, and I’m still finding organic fresh cranberries at my local grocery store, courtesy of Oregon Tilth, so it’s still possible to use fresh cranberries from early autumn into January. There is an option to add my Easy Pecan Butter to the center of these bad boys, and while they’re good without, I do recommend adding this step. It balances the pecans and fruit that much more - so good! And so easy if you have the pecan butter on hand. I always make sure I do.
GLUTEN-FREE VEGAN CRANBERRY ORANGE MUFFINS WITH MAPLE PECAN TOPPING
VEGAN | GLUTEN-FREE | OIL-FREE | REFINED SUGAR-FREE | BREAKFAST | SNACK | DESSERT | FALL | WINTER
SOAK: 30 minutes | PREP: 20 minutes | COOK: 12-16 minutes | COOL: 10 minutes | TOPPING: 5 minutes
TOTAL TIME: about 80 minutes. TOTAL HANDS-ON TIME: about 35 minutes
3/4 cup dates, about 8 dates
3/4 cup warm water
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flax meal to 2 1/2 tablespoons warm water)
1/2 cup plant-based milk (I usually use oat or coconut)
zest of 2 oranges
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (2-3 oranges)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups rolled oats or oat flour (seek out gluten-free if sensitive, just to make sure)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or unsweetened dried cranberries (the outcome will be more tart with fresh)
For the filling (optional):
1/3 cup pecan butter
For the topping:
1 cup chopped pecans
6 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoon bourbon or maple syrup
pinch of salt
DATES: Place the dates in a container, heat the water, and pour the water over the dates. Let soak for 30 minutes, until well softened. Then, puree the date and water mixture in a blender until smooth.
PREHEAT: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).
FLAX EGG: In a medium bowl, combine the flax meal and warm water to create the flax egg. Let sit through the next step.
DRY INGREDIENTS: Combine the dry ingredients in a larger mixing bowl. If you just have rolled oats on-hand, make your flour by blending the oats to a fine flour in your high-speed blender or food processor.
WET INGREDIENTS: Add the date puree, plant-based milk, orange zest & juice, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla to the flax egg and stir well to combine. Then add the wet to the dry ingredients and, using a mixer, mix until just combined.
MUFFIN CUPS: Line your muffin tins with large parchment cups, or spray the tins with cooking spray. Wet one large silverware tablespoon (this will help keep the batter from sticking to the spoon) and place a spoonful of batter into the bottom of each baking cup. If filling with pecan butter, top the batter in each cup with one teaspoon of pecan butter. Then add another spoonful of batter on top of that. Each muffin cup should be about 2/3 full.
BAKE: Bake for 12 minutes, then check to see if a knife or toothpick will come out clean in the center of the muffins. If not, put them back for three more minutes and check again until it comes out clean.
COOL/TOPPING: Let the muffins cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the pecans (I like using a mini food processor so the pecan bits come out fairly uniform) and put them in a small pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Watch them carefully until they become fragrant and a bit toasted, then add the maple syrup and bourbon if using, and salt. Stir until the mixture starts to bubble, then turn off the heat.
FINISH: Spread the maple pecan mixture over the top of each muffin, just enough to cover.
ENJOY immediately or keep them in a container in the fridge to enjoy through the week. They freeze well, too!
The following are products I used to make this recipe, available now through Amazon. When you click “Buy on Amazon” you will be taken there, where you can decide whether to purchase. As an Amazon Affiliate, purchases made through these links provide a small “finder’s fee” to Beautiful Ingredient at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!