The Japanese are said to prefer their sweets less sweet than Americans, and this is reflected in their bakery's baked goods. They tend to put less sugar in them, and that has given me many years of experience with what happens when there isn't "enough" sugar in a cake or muffin. The other side of the Japanese baking method is that they use a fair amount of fat. This may surprise some people because most Japanese people have fairly trim figures.
The combination of fat with little sugar creates dry baked goods that rise well and look fine, but the texture and mouth feel are disappointing. When I first experimented with a peanut butter muffin, I found that my early results to produce a sugar-free version resembled the average Japanese muffin from the neighborhood bakery. It looked good, tasted fine, and smelled great, but was too dry. On the next experimental round, I doubled the applesauce to add heft and moisture, and got a good result.
These muffins have a bit of a peanut butter cookie taste going for them. They're not too sweet, and are great with a bit of butter or margarine or, if you'd like to have a PB & J feel, spread them with jam. If you'd like to go into peanut butter over-drive, spread them with peanut butter!
Peanut Butter Muffins (whole-wheat, sugar-free, low-fat)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 medium egg
2/3 cup low-fat milk + 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup Splenda
4 tbsp. peanut butter
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
- Add the vinegar to the milk, stir, and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.
- Whisk the applesauce, egg, milk, peanut butter, vanilla, salt, and Splenda together. Mix until the peanut butter is smoothly incorporated.
- Sprinkle the flour over the liquid mixture and gently stir just until the flour is moistened. Allow this to rest for 15-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. (190 degrees C.). Spray the bottoms of 6 muffin tins with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle the baking powder over the mixture and stir until just mixed.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared cups. They will be quite full.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not overbake as it will dry out the muffins.
- Allow to cool in the tins for at least 15 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges to loosen, pat gently if they stick to the bottom. Place on a rack for cooling.