Apricot Cardamom Muffins

Much of the time, the ideas for my sane concoctions are really rather random.  I might be rambling through the produce section and spy some staggeringly sexy looking vegetable, or I’ll affectionately remember something I used to love eating when I was young and use that as a starting point for a sane version.  Every once in a while I have a plan.  And these Apricot Cardamom Muffins were definitely, thoroughly planned.

There was absolutely nothing random about these muffins.  They were inspired by a donut.  A very particular donut.  A very special donut.  I made them in honor of the world’s best donut – the Apricot Cardamom Donut – which can be found in abundance, languishing in a deep fat fryer over at Dynamo Donuts, in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District.

Apricot Cardamom Donut

My first rendezvous with this glorious donut-of-all-donuts came after a chance encounter with a stranger at Lennox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, long before Mr. Bailor came charging into my life with all this talk of eating more and exercising less, smarter.  I was still living in it-doesn’t-matter-what-I-do-I-can’t-lose-weight land.  Donuts were my friend.

Since that first taste of the exquisiteness that is Dynamo’s Apricot Cardamom Donut, I have been entirely unable to go anywhere near San Francisco without swinging by to eat one.  Or, let’s face it – several.  On New Years Day 2012 – on my drive back to Seattle from a 2-week photo shoot to Southern California – I detoured 83 miles off the I-5 and paid road tolls in order to drive through San Francisco expressly to stop and eat Apricot Cardamom Donuts at Dynamo.  And last April, those brilliant folks at Dynamo made a batch of them just for me when they found out I was leaving for the long haul back to Seattle the next day.  Yeah.  I am *really* fond of these donuts.

With a San Francisco drive-by pending, memories of donut awesomeness were careering around my brain as I was starting to pack.  Then it occurred to me that all I had to do was create a sane version.  Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  So in honor of the finest donut ever to pass my lips, I give you Apricot Cardamom Muffins.

Carrie Brown | Apricot Cardamom Muffins

The smell wafting around the Lie in the Sane Lane HQ kitchen while these were baking was fragrantly delicious beyond description.  I almost could not wait to pull them out of the oven.  And when they were out, I was in Apricot Cardamom heaven.  Not to mention that everyone at the office let out a chorus of “Mmmmmmmmm’s!!” when they tried them.  These might just be my favorite thing I’ve made yet.

I took some Apricot Cardamom Muffins into the studio for Jonathan to munch on while we were podcasting.  His reaction was epic.  Arms waving wildly, he exclaimed, “These muffins are the **bleep** BOMB!!”  I think he liked them.  I have never seen Bailor get so excited about food.  Honestly, I didn’t think Bailor could get that excited about food.  He said, “I feel like I could be sitting in a Parisian café sipping coffee and eating fantastic cake”.  He is so cute when he gets excited.

Carrie Brown | Apricot Cardamom Muffins

If you tried the Cinnamon Raisin Muffins, these are quite different.  These Apricot Cardamom Muffins are more like cake than the rugged, nuttiness of the Cinnamon Raisin ones.  And given that I am perpetually confused over American names for food, I wondered if I should call these Apricot Cardamom Cupcakes instead.  Which got me thinking about whether I even understood what the difference was between the two.  I didn’t.  A short search on the internet set me straight though, and made me feel better; because it turns out no one knows.  I found a hundred different – often heated – debates on the difference between the two.  Blimey, the things people get upset about.  In the end I decided to go with my favorite cupcake v. muffin difference quote:

“Nothing,” the pastry chef said, explaining that when it comes to breakfast, Americans have a Puritanical inhibition. “Muffins are just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast”.

Carrie Brown | Apricot Cardamom Muffins

Call them a muffin or call them a cupcake – eat these Apricot Cardamom Muffins for breakfast and have yourself a seriously sane and delicious start to your day.


Apricot Cardamom Muffins
Author: Carrie Brown | www.carriebrown.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
  • Coconut oil spray
  • 2 oz / 55g sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 oz / 15g chia seeds
  • 4 1/2 oz / 125g almond flour / ground almonds (NOT meal)
  • 1 oz / 28g vanilla protein powder
  • 3 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 oz / 55g xylitol or erythritol
  • 4 oz / 110g dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup / 6 fl oz. cold water
  1. Spray 12 silicone muffin cups with coconut oil spray and place in muffin pan.
  2. Grind the sunflower and chia seeds in a coffee grinder until very fine. (If you use a Vitamix be very careful you do not end up with sunflower butter!)
  3. Tip ground seeds into a mixing bowl and add the almond flour, protein powder, cardamom, baking powder, salt, and xylitol (or erythritol) and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the chopped apricots and rub through the dry ingredients with your fingers to separate the pieces.
  5. Whisk the eggs and cold water in a bowl and add to the dry ingredients, mixing quickly until completely combined.
  6. Carefully pour or spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cups – they should be slightly under-filled.
  7. Place in center of oven at 300F for 35 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes until you can handle the silicone cups.
  9. Turn each cup top down in one hand, and using the other hand gently squeeze the sides of the cup all the way round until the sides release and the muffin pops out. Be gentle.
  10. Place each muffin on a cooling rack to cool.

Carrie Brown | Apricot Cardamom Muffins






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  • Chantel - These look fab but just wondered how many we are allowed to eat in one sitting and still not be naughty? I don’t think that one would be enough!! He heReplyCancel

    • carrie - Chantel – this is a very long and complex answer and there’s a whole post coming soon! THANK YOU for swinging by :-)ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - Hi Carrie, LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog, your recipes, and your great podcasts with Jonathan. I have been eating SANELY since 1-1-13 and couldn’t be happier. You’ve even convinced me to walk past my scale in the morning. Anyway I can get you to put me on your list of food tasters? I’ll pay the postage if you want to send me some of these amazing-looking muffins!

    Thanks for all you do.

    Nancy in AtlantaReplyCancel

  • Megan - Carrie,

    Are the sunflower seeds with or without shells?ReplyCancel

  • Susan - Carrie,
    You have created a monster! Just kidding. I needed something to take up to the mountains on a XC ski trip…these are perfect. Just made them and they came out perfect and yes I ate one right away!

    This recipe easily translates to other fruits/spices…can’t wait to experiment.

    Keep up the SANE work!

    • carrie - Susan – it’s a happy, friendly, healthy monster :-) Hope you had a fabulous ski trip!!ReplyCancel

  • Lori Borenstein - I heard a great descritpion of the difference between almond meal and almond flour I want to share. Almond meal includes the skin of the almond. Almond flour is skinless (I guess that’s what makes it smoother). Also, I think they also blanch the almonds with the almond flour. Hope that helps some readers with the difference. King Arthur Flour makes an Almond Flour and Trader Joe’s sells Almond Meal.ReplyCancel

  • Deborah - I am really looking forward to making these! You list the sunflower seeds, chia seeds, almond flour and xylitol by weight. I do not have a food scale. Do you have any idea how much of these you used by cup or tsp? I can probably figure out the apricots from the package. Sorry, for being a pain. The last few baked items like this I made did not turn out well. So, I don’t want to guess.

    thanks :)

    Deborah in SammamishReplyCancel

    • carrie - Deborah – please, please, please grab yourself a scale :-) The reason I weigh is because you get consistent (great) results – which you never will if you go by volume. Right now I can’t help further as I am away from my kitchen :-(ReplyCancel

  • Janknitz - Deborah, it’s highly worth considering getting an inexpensive baking scale. It makes measuring so much more accurate and easy (no measuring cups to wash!).

    But in the absence of a scale, look for an app called Kitchen Pro from ForwardLeapSoftware.com. I’m not sure if there’s a pc version or not, but I have the iPhone app and it comes in handy. It will convert measurements, including weight, volume, temperature and length. What’s really great is you can take a weight measurement like 4 1/2 oz of ground almonds and convert it to a volume measurement for that particular ingredient (remember, different ingredients have different weights, even with the same volume).

    I don’t recall if it was a free or paid app, but it’s a great app and very much worth whatever I paid for it.ReplyCancel

  • Lori Borenstein - OH no… I don’t have xylitol! Can I use Trader Joe’s Stevia powder instead? If so, what quantity?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Lori – in this case the xylitol is just to sweeten so you can sub out for stevia. Use whatever amount of stevia is equivalent to 2 oz regular sugar – I have no clue what that is, as I am not a stevia user. Hope that helps even a little!ReplyCancel

  • Lori Borenstein - I haven’t used cardamom before and I love the light citrus-floral aroma/taste it brings. The only thing that would make it a “5 star” would be some sort of simple thin glaze like in the donut picture.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Except without sugar “glaze” is not simple ;-) However, I just rustled up a prototype glaze which was way more successfully than I thought it would be. Now I just have to refine it. You could keep me busy with requests, all on your own :-)ReplyCancel

  • Cowgirl Rae - OOOH, I purchased some cardamom, now I’m afraid, it’s very different than anything I usually use. We REALLY like nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice. Cardamom is nothing like that. If I follow the recipe what is the level of cardamom flavor. Low, med or high?

    I’m worried Hubs will not like it. What other recipes are suitable for cardamom? Sweet, savory?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Low, Cowgirl. It is very fragrant, almost perfumey spice. I love it. I have only used it for sweet dishes so far. I use it in ice cream ;-)ReplyCancel

  • AmyCr - This sounds soo good. I would love a coffee cake recipe with Almond Flour!!ReplyCancel

  • Niamh Kane - Yummy! I’m looking forward to bringing these to a potluck dinner this weekend at least I know there will be something there I can eat:) Thanks Carrie!ReplyCancel

  • Jill - Hey Carrie! New to SSoS (3 weeks)! I’m wondering if I can substitute powdered egg whites for whey protein powder in the recipe. Thanks for your insights and being real! You and Jonathan make my day!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Jill – I cannot in good faith give you an answer because I haven’t trialed it. It is on my list of things to do. My guess is that the recipe will have to be altered to allow for extra sweetner. I am also not sure what all that extra protein will do to the structure. I really need to try them before giving you an answer….sorry! Thanks for the love – I sure appreciate you.ReplyCancel

  • Janelle - I am new (as of last Friday) to SANE eating, and have been exploring recipes on your blog. I’m trying to introduce the rest of the family to this lifestyle, so I made these as a breakfast addition/treat. My 13-year-old daughter said to me, “Mom, if all your ‘diet’ food tastes like this, I’m IN!!” :-) I did make minor modifications, as apricots are not a favorite here. I made cardamom-cashew-coconut muffins (only about 1/4 cup of each, at most). They are FABULOUS, even if my youngest refuses to eat them because of the chia seeds (she says she won’t eat grass seeds…lol!). Thanks so much – this recipe introduced me to several new ingredients, and although it will be an occasional treat, this will be a regular staple here.ReplyCancel

  • Wren - Yumilicious! I made these with dried pears instead of apricots after I brought home 2 different bags of dried apricots, one from California and one from Turkey. My son liked the pears best. I got the idea from Susan (above) to try other fruits. They are fabulous! Now go practice some self control and not eat all 12 of them at once.

    Carrie, were you aware that for some reason I cannot rate this recipe using my iPad? I try to click on the stars and nothing happens. I don’t know if it’s just me or if anyone else has had this problem. Anyways, if I could I’d give it 5 stars!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Wren – glad you loved them! No clue on the whole iPad debacle I’m afraid. I’m a total PC girl.ReplyCancel

  • Paula Childs - Carrie, I am going to try this recipe as I love cardamom. Just wanted to share that I have a lot of relatives that are diabetic. Comes from eating like Germans – which is our background. Lots of bread, potatoes, sugary desserts, etc. I have recently started a support/encouragement group at my home and serving them samples of your cookies. We’ve only had one meeting so far. They liked them a lot. Next meeting I will probably include some of your muffins too. I will definitely include your Triple Threat Almond cookies. Yum and Yum! Have you ever tried making them with erythritol? I have a sister-in-law who thinks erythritol might be better although she has never used it. Would appreciate your feedback.

    Also, I’m thinking of using the TTA cookies and putting some of your chocolate ice cream in between for an ice cream sandwich.

    Thanks and keep up the excellent work.ReplyCancel

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