I love tamarillos. When I was young I used to cut them in half and dip the cut end into the sugar bowl (yes, right into it when mum wasn’t looking) and then spoon the insides out…..gorgeous!
Once called ‘tree tomatoes’ they are from the tomato family and even though they resemble a tomato on the inside (very fleshy with a lot of edible seeds), if you’ve tried them you know they taste nothing alike. If you are not familiar with them they are an egg-shaped, deep red, rather stunning looking fruit. Their skins are tough, sour and inedible and their taste reminds me of a feijoa in the way that they are sweet but also very sharp at the same time.
I’ve planted a wee tree and I just can’t wait for it to produce some of these beauties!
These muffins were inspired by my favourite bakers, Alison & Simon Holst’s ‘upside down nectarine muffins’. These are not the prettiest looking muffins I’ve ever baked…..but they are upside down after all! Looking at them when they came out of the oven I was thinking they weren’t going to make the cut but when I flipped them out…..wow, they looked gorgeous and tasted just as good!
So here they are…..
1 ½ teaspoons orange zest (from ½ large or 1 small orange)
1 ½ cups walnut pieces or halves
2 medium/large or 3 small tamarillos
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
90 g / 6 tablespoons butter
¾ cup castor sugar (superfine)
2 large eggs (I use size 7’s)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup canola oil
2 cups standard flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
¾ cup natural, unsweetened yoghurt
Makes 6 large Texas-size or 12 standard-sized muffins
- I use castor sugar in most of my baking but you can just use standard white if that’s what you have in the cupboard.
First preheat your oven to 160°C fan bake oven or 180°C conventional oven, on bake, with a rack in the centre.
Measure out the butter and leave it out so it can warm up to room temperature.
Now zest the orange and leave it aside for now.
Place the walnut pieces on an oven tray (if you have halves roughly chop them up first).
When the oven is up to temperature toast the walnuts for 8 minutes (tossing half way through) or until they are about two shades darker. Also turn the oven off, you can turn it back on soon.
Next prepare the tamarillos. You could cut them in half and scoop the flesh out but because they are so expensive and my tree has not grown yet I don’t want to waste any so I peel them in the same way as I would tomatoes.
First, if you haven’t any ice on hand fill a small bowl with water (enough to cover the tamarillos) and place it in the freezer.
Next using a sharp knife cut a shallow cross into the bottom of each tamarillo.
Grab out a small saucepan and fill it with water, enough to cover the tamarillos (but don’t put them in just yet). then place the saucepan over a high heat and bring the water to the boil.
When it’s boiling, leave it boiling for just a minute while you fill a medium-sized bowl with again, enough water in it to cover the tamarillos, with a handful of ice thrown into it (or get the cold bowl of water from the freezer ready on the bench).
Then using tongs carefully place the tamarillos into the boiling water. Leave them in for 30 seconds or until the cross you cut starts to split open, whichever of these comes first (if you cook them too long the flesh will start cooking).
Remove them with the tongs and place them in the bowl of iced/very cold water for a few minutes or until they have cooled down (this stops them from cooking further).
The cooled tamarillos can be skinned now. So remove them from the bowl of water and starting at the cross-cut use your fingers or a little sharp knife and gently peel the skin back.
- If the flesh is coming away with the skin they may have been left in the boiling water too long. Alternately if the skin is not easily coming away the water wasn’t hot enough or they weren’t left in long enough. If it’s not easily peeling away return them to the boiling water for another minute.
Don’t they look amazing!
Next slice them into 1/2 – 3/4 cm (about 1/3 inch) slices.
- It might pay to use an older board as they will stain it a little.
Leaving that oven rack in the centre still, preheat it again to 170°C fan bake oven or 190°C conventional oven, on bake.
Now liberally spray the muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, making sure you spray the top also as the muffins will spread out a little when they are baking.
Place one tablespoon of the butter and one tablespoon of the brown sugar in each of the 6 holes and leave it aside.
- So smaller muffins will be 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and sugar in each.
Place the orange zest, the castor sugar, the eggs and the vanilla extract into a large bowl and mix it all together.
Add the oil (no need to stir it in yet).
Next add the toasted walnuts, flour, baking powder, mixed spice, salt and the yoghurt and…..
…..using a large spoon stir it all together until it’s all just combined…..no overmixing, you want a lovely, light textured muffin.
Now place the tin into the oven for 3 minutes so that the butter and brown sugar can melt.
When it’s melted, stir the butter and the sugar together in each hole.
Divide the tamarillo slices between the holes placing the largest slices in first and then the smaller slices overlapping those.
Then go on and evenly distribute the muffin batter between the holes (without pushing it down) and don’t be concerned if a bit of the caramel seeps up the sides.
- No need for them to look perfect at this stage, they will spread themselves out in the oven.
Place them in the oven for 25 minutes (20 for smaller ones) until golden brown all over or until a small, sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
As I said, not the prettiest of things!!!….but look at that lovely tamarillo juice!
Leave them in the tin for about 10 minutes.
- Leaving things in the tin for a little while allows a bit of steam to form around them which can make it easier to get things out.
Once cooled down a bit, just check that no parts are really stuck to the edges and if they look like they are, run a little knife around them to loosen them a bit.
Then flip the tin upside down onto a chopping board.
Give the bottoms a good tap and the tin should lift off easily.
If you like you can dust them with icing sugar (it won’t sit on the tamarillos though, they are too moist).
Enjoy them slightly warmed with some whipped cream or crème fraiche for afternoon tea or dessert.
Keeping them fresh – Because of the fruit, keep these covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. After the first day, I prefer to freshen mine up in the microwave for about 20 – 30 seconds each (cold from the fridge) or until they are just warm.