Ah Irma Rombauer, you know how to win my heart. Her exhortation to use more butter cannot be ignored by any sensible cook (or at least one who doesn't intend to consume a whole batch of muffins in a single sitting).
I was in the mood for muffins and wanted something fancier than boring blueberry. My default thought was ginger, but I'm a bit gingered out these days. I am newly obsessed with cardamom, though. And everything is better with dried apricots.
My dream of delicious cardamom-scented muffins was briefly stymied when I realized that I couldn't very well throw whole cardamom pods into the batter. Worse, I had no ground cardamom and no spice grinder. Yankee ingenuity prevailed, however. I picked the seeds out of about 8 crushed pods, put them in a gallon-sized baggie and beat the hell out of them with the back of a huge enameled metal ladle. No problem.
UPDATE: Tigers and Strawberries is hosting a new event: The Spice is Right. April is Ancient Spices month and cardamom is, of course, a classic entry in that category. I offer instruction--unusual ways to process cardamom in a pinch--and inspiration--Indian spices in all-American buttery muffins.
Apricot Cardamom Muffins
(a fancy variation on Joy of Cooking's Basic Muffins with Cream)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease a 12 muffin tin, or line it with paper muffin cups.
Combine and set aside:
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Whisk together in another bowl, or in a standing mixer:
1 cup cream (if you're a pansy, use milk)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) warm melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add the flour mixture and quickly combine. Don’t overmix and don't worry about lumps.
Very gently fold in:
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
(I used a scant half cup, but recommend that you be more generous)
Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Makes 12 normal-sized muffins