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Warmly Spiced, Tahini-Spiked, Not-Too-Sweet Apple Muffins

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Fall is here. In the mornings, mist hangs low over the fields. The cool, crisp air hits my lungs when I step outside. I sit, mug of coffee in hand, feeling the sun warm my sweater-clad shoulders. The flavors I want are aromatic, comforting ones. I want apple everything: apple pie, apple crisp, apple cake. I want moist, tender muffins laced with spicy cinnamon and lashings of bracing cardamom.

Cinnamon Apple Tahini Muffins
Cinnamon Apple Tahini Muffins

Cravings like this must be satisfied!


Muffins are often dry and overly sweet, but luckily, today's recipe for cinnamon apple tahini muffins is anything but. Instead, they teeter between snack and dessert (unlike many muffins, which fall squarely in the cake category).

Photo by Posie Harwood

To keep the muffins moist, I use brown sugar. Because brown sugar has more molasses in it than white sugar, it has a higher moisture content, which therefore creates softer, moister baked goods. And for an even more tender interior, I stir in tahini, which (much like adding any other wet ingredient—butter, applesauce, oil, and so on) makes baked goods less dry and creates a softer, almost squishy texture, its nuttiness an added bonus that complements the sweetness of fresh apple. Then I add cardamom, in addition to cinnamon, for extra spice. You can leave the cardamom out, or add other spices: Nutmeg and allspice would be delicious. As they bake, the fruit melts into custardy, delicate pockets of sweetness.

If there's something nicer than a bite of this muffin, with the sweetness of baked fruit, the heat of cinnamon, the tender crumbles of cake, first thing on a chilly fall morning—I can't imagine it.

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Cinnamon Apple Tahini Muffins

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Serves 12 muffins
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup diced, peeled apple (about 2 medium apples)

Posie Harwood is a writer, photographer, and food stylist based in New York. You can read more of her writing here.

Tell us about your ideal muffin—crumb-topped? corny? dense with bran?—in the comments below.