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Tomato and Goat Cheese Muffins

Garbanzo flour, ground from dried chickpeas and therefore also known as chickpea flour, is a staple in the Mediterranean and Middle East, where it is used to make flatbreads, fritters and savory pancakes. It is also an ingredient in the breads and pancakes made by Indian cooks. The flour has a distinctive and very appealing, naturally sweet flavor. It may be difficult to find on supermarket shelves. If this is the case, look for it in natural-foods stores or in Indian markets, where it is sometimes labeled besan.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 small green onions, including 1 inch of the
      tender green portion, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. minced fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup garbanzo flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 oz. fresh white goat cheese, divided into 10
      equal portions
  • 2 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, then each
      half cut into 3 chunks

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Grease 10 standard muffin cups with butter or butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping.

In a small fry pan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the green onions and sauté until almost translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the basil. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a bowl, stir together the all-purpose and garbanzo flours, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs until blended. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, then pour in the milk mixture and the butter mixture. Stir just until evenly moistened, using no more than 15 to 20 strokes. The batter will be thick and lumpy.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each half full. Shape each portion of goat cheese into a round and set it in the center of the muffin batter. Place 1 or 2 tomato chunks on top of the cheese and gently press into the batter. Cover the cheese and tomato with batter until level with the rim of the cup.

Bake until the muffins are golden, dry and springy to the touch, 18 to 22 minutes. Do not overbake. To check the muffins, carefully lift a muffin from the pan; the sides should be browned. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 10 muffins.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Muffins, by Beth Hensperger (Simon & Schuster, 2003).