Monkey Puzzle Nut and Jaggery Muffins (Vegan)

The Beach House Kitchen (and a box of carrots)

We’re on the road in France and Spain at the minute, but here’s one we did earlier…….

We have some lovely friends of the Beach House Kitchen to thank for these nuts, Rachel and Axel over on Anglesey, who somehow man-handled their monkey puzzle tree into letting go of its precious nuts.  Not an easy task, these trees are seriously covered in sharp spines.

We saw this technique being executed by the British wild food guru Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on his TV programme ‘Veg Everyday’ recently and he needed the help of a tree expert and a hydraulic lift.  From what Rach tells me Axel simply shimmied up a neighbouring tree and shook the hell out of the top, using only a snake catching pole (Axel is an expert in all things snakes and adders) and net.  Unconventional harvesting techniques demand an unconventional recipe me thought.  Hugh made a tasty looking summer cous cous salad out of his puzzle nuts, but we were on a different page all together.

Monkey Puzzle Nuts

So I had a bowl of these beauties, I roasted them and tried one, tastes a little like a chestnut merged with a pine nut.  They are probably best just eaten as they are, but I couldn’t resist sticking them in this vegan muffin recipe that I’ve been sitting on for a while.  A word of gentle warning, these nuts do go a bit dry after roasting and when baked.  CRUNCH!

Jane has been fantasising about cake now for a few days and I have finally got around to making my poor, long suffering lady something resembling a sweet thing.  This is as close as I get really, all that white flower, butter and sugar makes me feel a little queasy.  These muffins are packed with the good stuff and still taste mighty fine.

Monkey Puzzle Tree

What on earth is a Monkey Puzzle Nut?

The monkey puzzle tree (or Araucaria araucana if you’re Latin speaker) is an evergreen that can grow up to 40 metres tall with a trunk of two metres wide!  The tree is covered with sharp, blade-like, ‘reptilian’ leaves or spines that make the monkey puzzle nut one of natures toughest morsels to harvest.  The tree is native to the low Andean slopes of Chile and Argentina but seems to do well on this little grey island.  It is a hardy conifer and you regularly see them sticking out of gardens and stately home driveways.  I don’t think there is a more incongruous tree on this island than the monkey puzzle.

What on earth is Jaggery?

Jaggery is an unrefined sugar used in many parts of the world, known as Gud in India.  It  has an amazing toffee-like texture and can be made with palm, coconut or date tree sap.  Jaggery has a powerful, caramelised flavour that sets it apart from any sugar I have come across.  It is high is sucrose and can be used as a healthier alternative to refined sugar.  Great in a chai.  I like to bake with it because it flavours and sweetens.

You could use a good unrefined brown sugar as a substitute, or even something like molasses, as jaggery can be a little hard to track down.

These muffins make for a great breakfast (they are nice and dense) and are best served warmed through.  A cold muffin has an air of austerity to it that a baked good should not possess.  If you are storing them, make sure they are in a well sealed container or well cling filmed, they can get a little dry these vegan sorts.

I used polenta and oats here as they were in the cupboard, another flour like spelt, rye or tapioca will work really well.  Polenta isn’t quite fine enough to bind and bake as well as other flours.  The oats add alot of ballast and ‘feel’ to these wonder muffs.

Monkey Puzzle Muffins in the mix

Makes for six hearty muffs.

The Bits

2 cups polenta, 2 cups oats, 1 teas cinnamon, 1 teas baking powder, 1/2 teas bicarb,  1/4 teas sea salt, 2 mashed bananas, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1 grated carrot, 1/2 cup jaggery, 8 finely diced dates (finely chopped), 1 teas vanilla extract, 2/3 cup monkey puzzle nuts (or pine nuts/ your favourite nut), 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate (finely chopped), 1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup soya milk (or your favoured milk)

Do It

Preheat your oven to 375ºF and grease six muffin cups (or use silicon muffin cups).  In a bowl, mix with vigour the polenta, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a food processor, blitz together the banana, coco oil, jaggery and vanilla until relatively smooth with just some small banana lumps remaining.  Add wet mix to dry and add carrot, chocolate, seeds and milk.  Fold and stir together nicely until just combine.

Muffins pre-mix

Divide the batter up between the six muffin cups, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until slightly browned on top and a thin knife inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Ready to bake

Serve

With a cup of fine tea.  Best warm from the oven, but great in a packed lunch too.

Lovely looking muffs

We Love It!

Simply put, we know of no cooler muff.

Foodie Fact

Jaggery is unrefined and a more complex carbohydrate than normal white sugar.  It contains magnesium and salts and good levels of the antioxidant selenium.  Jaggery also contains iron, which helps ease tension.

Monkey Puzzle and Jaggery Muffin

Advertisements
Categories: Baking, Desserts, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Post navigation

12 thoughts on “Monkey Puzzle Nut and Jaggery Muffins (Vegan)

  1. Wow, another amazing treat from you , two. I have never tried Jaggery or monkey puzzle nuts. Looks too good not to! Thank you beautiful souls! Sending Love

  2. Wow 2 new to me ingredients, I love it! Loved learning about these and those muffins look delicious! I’d totally be ok with a little extra crunch in my muffin 😉

  3. Fantastic Lee! Last night I made the “Tomato & Goats cheese crumble” that we make at Fron Goch. Instead of pine nuts I used monkey puzzle nuts, gorgeous! Hope you & Jane are having an amazing time in France/Spain! x

    • Cheers Rach, we’re in Sancerre (land of amazing white wine), about to have a nice lunch and fews glasses of the good stuff. That Goats Cheese Crumble is a real winner. I will have to stick it on the BHK one day. Thanks for the nuts (and the inspiration). Love to all at FG. Happy days, leex

  4. Asymmetric and highly interesting:)

  5. Hi Lee,
    I’ve just looked up monkey puzzle nuts on google (I have a rare stash thanks to Rach) and you and hugh are on the first page! – nice recipe for muffins by the way hope you are having happy travels 🙂 Mandy

  6. Just trawling a few of your older recipes and love the look of these. Our monkey puzzle is only tiny (we collect conifers) but we have a couple of bunya nut trees that are closely related and endemic to Australia (that we grew from seed sourced from a botanic garden) that will one day produce enormous cones and edible seeds on our property. Isn’t it amazing that long after we are gone, if the trees remain, that they could be food for our great, great, great grandchildren? 🙂 Maybe we can bury this recipe in a time capsule under the trees when we plant them out eh? 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: