Cupcakes are the rage right now, nary a corner in a big city devoid of a shop that sells only cupcakes. Rumor has it that cupcakes will soon, if not already, be passe’. I remember a similar hot trend in the late 1980’s. It was the muffin shop. There was one on every corner as well. Long lines formed in the mornings with commuters getting their fix. I was in that line several days a week with my friend Kay, on our way to work.
We each ordered coffee and our favorite muffin and gossiped about the people we worked with. Kay had an annoying habit of breaking off the top of the muffin and just eating that, discarding the bottom. I liked the soft middle and couldn’t understand her technique at all. Kay always went for the same muffin as did I, the Parisienne muffin. Yes, that is how it was spelled, hand written on a folded piece of cardstock.
I should probably mention for those not alive in the 80’s that these were no ordinary muffins. Oh no, these things were as big as your head! These were Texas sized muffins, providing enough lead in your belly to keep you comatose until noon. They were wonderful. My muffin, the Parisienne, was dense vanilla cake base with chocolate chips and, get ready for this, chopped Maraschino cherries. Today it would be made with dried cherries the color of raisins, but back in the day, it was sweet, sticky flame-red Maraschinos. The juice from the cherries gave the batter a light pink tint that just made it all the more appetizing. The top of the muffin was studded with clear crystal sugar that gave it a nice crunch. I have never enjoyed a muffin as much as I enjoyed my Parisienne. I mourned as the muffin shop fad began to fade into history and, one by one, they closed their doors. Eventually our shop closed as well, and with it, my beloved Parisienne.
Nostalgia has taken over and I am going to try to resurrect the Parisienne. I just finished the first attempt and I am sad to say that, while they are tasty, they are not the Parisienne. The cake is too light and airy, the color not pinkish-white enough, and they are too sweet. I think the color issue may be due to my using farm fresh eggs from my chickens. The yolks are bright orange and often impart too much color to baked goods. God forbid, I may have to buy eggs the next time I attempt this. I’m in no rush. It’s been twenty years already so I think I can take my time. If you have a jar of Maraschino cherries sitting around from your last cocktail party, break it out and try these.
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk or cream
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cups granulated white sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup chopped Maraschino cherries
- 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar or sugar crystals
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Position rack in center of oven. Butter, or line with paper liners, 12 - 2¾ x 1½ inch muffin cups.
- Cream together the butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.
- In another large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips and cherries. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.
- Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Sprinkle a little sugar on each muffin. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18 -20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack
- and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan.