"Muffins A to Z," Marie Simmons

Pros: Reasonably delicious and easy recipes
Cons: Slightly cutesy; not many recipes; flavors not stunning
Rating: 3 out of 5

First posted 8/4/2000

I’m normally not a huge muffin fan. Every now and then I find myself drawn to those huge sugary cinnamon or chocolate chippy things you’ll find in the store, but that’s about it. I’m not sure why it is that muffins don’t particularly appeal to me, but they don’t.

This cookbook changed my mind.

If you’ve read my review of “Pancakes A to Z,” then you know what I think of cute cookbooks. I admit it, this is another cute cookbook in a lot of ways. Small size, but at least it has a blue inner liner instead of pink this time. Again you can tell Ms. Simmons (who wrote both books) had trouble finding recipes for some letters of the alphabet, so we end up with strange names: “Knock-Out Muffins,” for example, Jammies, Quickie-Mix Muffins, Vagabond Muffins, and X-tra Muffins. The names do get weird. But that’s okay, because they taste good.

That is, the muffins taste good, not the names.

It’s easier to justify making muffins than pancakes, because they’re generally healthier. Once again Ms. Simmons surprises by expanding our concepts, showing us that muffins are good for more than just breakfast. There are muffins in here that you’ll want to eat for dinner or dessert.

The opening has hints again, and I find these a little more useful than those in the pancakes book. I guess there’s more that you can say about muffins.

The book starts off strong, with Almond Crumb Cake Muffins. Now that’s a flavor I haven’t seen in the pastry display at the grocery store. It has a few that you’ll recognize more readily, such as Apple-Oatmeal Muffins and Applesauce Bran Muffins. (I haven’t even gotten through A yet!) Cinnamon-Ripple Coffee Cake Muffins may remind you of the yummy cinnamon muffins from your college days (okay, from my college days, at least). If you want to wake up in the morning there’s Espresso Chip Muffins and “X-tra Muffins,” which turn out to be Cappuccino Chip Muffins and are quite yummy. The Strawberry Muffins are heavenly, particularly if you sprinkle them with maple sugar.

If you’re looking for something savory, I’d recommend the Bacon Double-Corn Muffins. They aren’t the best such muffins I’ve ever had, but they’re very good. We haven’t gotten around to trying the Jalapeno-Cheddar Corn Muffins yet, but you can bet we will.

All in all, this little book is quite worth buying. It has won me over to the Muffin side of the Force. Personally, I think these things make great snacks.

Note, added several months later: having used such cookbooks as “The Muffin Lady” and “Mad About Muffins” now, I must downgrade my rating of this cookbook from 4 to 3. When I gave this cookbook a 4, I didn’t have such high expectations from muffins.

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