These Papaya Pecan Coconut Muffins are so moist and tender, so easy to make and have NO butter or dairy in them..
The story behind Papaya Pecan Coconut Muffins
As we continue to navigate our way in this new world of Covid-19, many of us have had to make life-changing decisions. Work from home. School at home. Mask on. Wash hands. Grocery shopping, which used to seem such a normal and rather mundane task has taken a whole new meaning. And time commitment.
In this house, that duty has mostly fallen to BB. He doesn't mind masking up and going to the store. It gives him something to do outside the home. Errands!
When this pandemic first started shopping was more of a matter of what do they have in stock, rather than what is it I want to buy and eat. BB would go to the store, call me on the cell, and give me a rundown of what was on the shelves. What was fresh. What kind of produce was available. Meat? Chicken? I would yes, get that. Or no, don't need that. Or no, don't have room for that. It was fun. NOT.
As of this writing, July 2020, most of the grocery stores here are pretty well stocked and have procedures in place to make shopping a bit easier. Trader Joe's lines you up outside and only let's a few in at a time. Nice at check-out. Not so great when it's 90º plus outside. Some of the other markets use on-way aisles, which is fine except when someone parks their cart in the middle to peruse the shelves. No passing lane, no way to maintain social distance, and dirty looks if you say "excuse me".
But this is where the story of Papaya Pecan Coconut Muffins comes in.
While out shopping for supplies, BB came across these fresh papayas. He remembered a simple papaya/avocado salad I made in the past and thought he would bring one home to replicate it. Of course, it wasn't ripe. The only place you can get ripe papaya is in Hawaii, or in this case Mexico since this was a large Mexican papaya.
So I put it on the counter for a few days to get ripe.
I kept it on the counter at least one day too long.
It was ripe. Too ripe now for a salad.
"Oh well," said BB, "at least we can put it into our smoothie".
As I cut into the papaya to remove the seeds, I started digging out the flesh. A light went off in my head.
"Wait a minute, this is just pureed fruit, kind of like pumpkin or banana when it's all mushed up, so why not make muffin?"
And so I did.
These Papaya Pecan Coconut Muffins contain NO dairy and NO butter
I like nuts in my muffins, so I wanted to add some. But what kind. Macadamia nuts came immediately to mind, but that seems too...predictable. I have jars of nuts in my refrigerator so I started with a little taste test of the puree with different nuts. Yes, the Macadamia nut was a good match, but I really did prefer the pecans. The pecan has a more earthy flavor that played nice with the sweet papaya. It's also lower in fat and contains many health benefits. So pecan it was.
Toasted chopped pecan.
Although I didn't want the Macadamia nut, I did like the idea of an "island" influence. Enter the coconut.
Nice toasted coconut. It's easy to toast it and toasting adds so much flavor there is no reason to add it raw. I used shredded unsweetened coconut and toasted it in the oven for about 3 - 4 minutes at 350º. Do keep a close eye on it as it toasts or you will quickly have burnt coconut. Which is not good.
Because, for its heart-healthy values, I use mild olive oil most of the time when I bake, rather than butter, I wanted to use oil in my muffins. And since I already had this coconut thing going, I thought why not use some coconut oil. Coconut oil is another healthy oil. I didn't want to overwhelm the papaya flavor with coconut so I used half coconut oil and half mild olive oil. You could use more or less of either to control the flavor profile, but I found 50/50 to be perfect. And because coconut oil has a tendency to solidify, it works beautifully to cream into the sugar to make it light and fluffy.
Creaming the Sugars
I used two types of sugar, granulated and dark brown. They both lend sweetness, but the brown sugar gives the muffin more depth of flavor. You could use all granulated, or light brown sugar. The only difference between light and dark is how much molasses is added. And the only difference between granulated and brown is granulated doesn't have any molasses added. You could use granulated and add molasses if that's what you wanted to do, but I'm not sure how much molasses you would need to add, so that would have to be yours to figure out...
These muffins turned out very moist and were delicious. I can't wait until I leave another papaya on the counter, for a day too long.
Got more overripe fruits? Try these tasty dishes.
Papaya Pecan Coconut Muffins
- Stand Mixer or
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar light brown sugar would work as well
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup neutral oil I used mild olive oil
- 2 large eggs - at room temperature
- 1 cup mashed papaya I used my little mini-food processor to make mine a chunky puree)
- ½ cup toasted shredded coconut
- ¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour you could use a combo of whole wheat and all-purpose or gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ teaspoons Pumpkin spice or ½ teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice, and ground ginger
- Heat oven to 325°F.
- Using your standing mixer or a handheld mixer cream together the sugar and oils until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until they are fully incorporated into the batter, then add the papaya puree, mix well.
- In a small bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, powder, salt, and spices. Add to the papaya puree and mix until blended. Fold in the shredded coconut and pecans.
- Fill lined muffin tin ¾ full, bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Keep in an airtight container.