I was invited to sit in on an aromatherapy class many years ago. Not much stuck with me, I’m afraid, but one piece of information sank in and has proven to be useful for me over and over: many people associate the scent of oranges with the emotion of happiness. Since then, I’ve put in a few drops of orange oil in a candle diffuser to cheer myself up, or a bit of zest in cookies to perk them up, or just eaten pounds of Satsuma mandarins during the cold dark winter days. Besides holding scurvy at bay, oranges really do seem to facilitate a better mood.
Not that I was feeling bad yesterday… a beloved baby had arrived, we had a lead on an awesome new apartment, one of my writing pieces had been published, and I had suddenly been gifted a whirlwind trip to California. I was feeling really great, and I wanted to celebrate with something sweet and zesty. These little treats did the trick so well, I’m making them again today and sharing them with you!
Note about the chocolate: I’m certain these would work fine with dark or milk chocolate chips, but the white ones add a subtle richness that enhances the delicate orange scent rather than overpowering it. I say this as someone who honestly does not like white chocolate.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened in the microwave for a minute
1/2 – 2/3 cup white sugar (depending on how strong your sweet tooth is today)
Zest and juice of one large orange (I used Cara Cara oranges, which have a pretty pinkish tinge and unique flavor, but you could use any orange you have on hand)
1/3 – 1/2 cup fine cornmeal (I ground some of my Glass Gem corn in a coffee grinder I reserve for spices and such)
1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
Big pinch of xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (a little less if you had to use salted butter)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-muffin tin with muffin papers, or spritz with your favorite spray oil, or just grease ’em up.
Add sugar to softened butter. Beat in eggs one at a time (I have no idea why you do this; I just see it in so many recipes that I figured I needed to say it too so I have Kitchen Cred).
In another bowl, whisk together cornmeal, gf flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift through a medium-meshed strainer into the egg mixture; if a lot of your cornmeal is still in the strainer, run it back through your grinder for a moment (but there will always be a few teaspoons that are too big; toss ’em out for the birds). Stir together, mix in white chocolate bits. Mixture should be thick and gloopy, more of a quickbread consistency than pancake batter. If too thick, add a bit of milk or water to thin. If too thin, add the flour mix by tablespoons until you are happy.
Spoon into muffin tin and bake for 18 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean.