Mini Pear and Anise Whole Wheat Muffins
October 13, 2022
A classic flavor combination, sharp, spicy anise and sweet pear come together in a bite-sized fall treat. Fill up a basket with these adorable and delicious mini white whole wheat muffins, made with fresh pear puree and anise extract.
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Hello, I’m one of those people who likes spice jelly beans. Yes, even the black ones, which taste like licorice. We do exist, and we are right. That flavor: licorice, anise, fennel, it’s just so good. It can be difficult to describe, but I would say it’s fragrant and sweet with a subtle sharpness.
Here, I paired this spicy flavor with pears, one of my favorite fall fruits. The combination works perfectly, especially with the subtle nuttiness of white whole wheat flour and robust brown sugar and cinnamon. Then, I made them mini muffins, so you can just pop a few for a quick snack. It’s like a bite of fall!
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for these mini pear and anise whole wheat muffins at your grocery store:
- Produce: Pears
- Pantry: Quick oats, Apple cider vinegar, White whole wheat flour, Brown sugar, Baking soda, Baking powder
- Fridge: Butter, Egg, Apple cider
- Spice Rack: Anise extract, Cinnamon, Salt, Sparkling sugar
- Equipment: Saucepan, Mixing bowls, Whisk, Flexible spatula, Mini muffin pan, Wire rack
Let’s Make Mini Pear and Anise Whole Wheat Muffins
Why muffins? They just work when it comes to fall flavors, and that’s what we’ve got here in abundance: pear, anise, whole wheat, cinnamon: they all make me think of this chilly and colorful season. Also, muffins are super easy, which makes them an excellent base if you want to try new flavor combinations.
Because this recipe follows a pretty simple formula, it comes together quickly. Before you get started, it’s a good idea to preheat your oven and check that there’s a rack in the center.
You can also grease a mini muffin pan. The recipe makes two dozen, so if you can do it all in one pan, awesome, do that. If not, you can use two smaller pans, or even a single pan in multiple batches. Just be sure to re-grease the pan between bakes.
Puree the Pears
First, we’ll be making a pear puree, which makes up the flavor base of these muffins. It also adds plenty of good pear juice into them, making for extra moist mini morsels.
My favorite pears to use here are the bosc variety, which have a slightly spiced flavor. It just pairs excellently with the anise in these muffins. However, you can also use bartlett or d’anjou pears if you prefer, or if that’s what you have available. Be sure they are just ripe, and not too soft.
Halve the pears, and then remove the stems, seeds, and the hard line down the center that extends from the stem. I usually like using a melon baller to scoop out the seeds from the middle in one swift motion. Unlike an apple, pears don’t need to be fully cored.
Then, dice the pears into about half-inch pieces. You can peel them if you’d like, especially if your pears have a particularly thick or textured skin. I usually don’t bother, since I don’t mind the skins. Once baked, you won’t really notice them anyway.
Add the pears and water to a medium saucepan, and cook them together over medium heat, covered, for five minutes or so. Stir this occasionally until the pears have softened. Then, continue cooking an additional few minutes uncovered, while you smash the pears against the sides and bottom of the pot into a puree.
You can decide if you want to keep some large pear chunks or not in your puree. I like to have a few pieces that remain unsmashed, as they add a little extra texture to the muffins, as though you tossed in some chopped up pears in addition.
Prepare the Muffin Batter
Now, it’s time to put the batter together. This follows the simple wet-plus-dry formula, which is perfect for fluffy and moist muffins. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pear puree with the oats, egg, butter, vinegar, and anise extract, and stir it until smooth.
The oats here add a little toothsome quality, which accentuates that signature pear texture. Vinegar will give you a little extra zing, and provides an acid to help the muffins rise. We use cider vinegar, which also has some sweetness to it.
For a more subtle anise flavor, use only half the extract. Or for a stronger flavor (I knew I liked you), use up to a half teaspoon more. Anise flavor will be stronger as the muffins are stored, so keep that in mind when deciding. If you really want to avoid it, you can replace the anise completely with vanilla or another extract.
Next, put together the dry ingredients. Use a medium mixing bowl to whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until combined. I recommend white whole wheat flour, but if you prefer, you can replace it with an equal amount of all-purpose flour.
The cinnamon, sugar, and salt are all for flavor, with the brown sugar also providing a little extra moistness throughout. The baking soda and powder combination will help your muffins rise, so they’ll have a lovely fluffy texture.
Fold the dry ingredients into the larger mixing bowl with the wet ingredients, and also add in the apple cider vinegar at this point for just a little liquid to help it all combine. Mix just until there are no obvious streaks or pockets of flour, using a flexible spatula and a folding motion.
Finish and Bake the Muffins
Now that the batter is all ready to go, we’re in the homestretch! Transfer the muffin batter to your prepared pan. I used a cookie scoop for this, which can make it a little easier to fill all those tiny cups. However, you can also use two spoons.
Then, add a little bit of sparkling sugar on top of each muffin. This will not only add a fun extra pop of sweetness, but also an extra little crunch in the texture.
Bake the muffins for right around fifteen minutes. When they are done, a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean, and the tops of the muffins will bounce back when gently pressed. Test a couple different muffins, since many ovens bake unevenly, and turn the pan if needed.
Allow your mini muffins to rest in the pan for a few minutes until they are cool enough to be handled. Then gently remove them, and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack. With a greased pan, the muffins should release easily. If they don’t, give each a gentle twist.
If you are planning ahead, the baked muffins can be stored at room temperature for up to one day, in a sealed container. After that, you can store them in the fridge for an additional few days. For longer-term storage, you can even freeze the muffins for a few months.
Put out a basket of these adorable mini muffins at your next brunch! They are filled with pear puree and anise extract for some fall flavors in your whole wheat muffins.
How to Serve Mini Pear and Anise Whole Wheat Muffins
Line your favorite small basket with a pretty towel, then fill it with these cute little bites. I love to enjoy them room temperature or warmed up with a pat of butter. Either way, you can definitely build a brunch around them. Go with a pear theme!
Or you can surround them with other seasonal flavors. Try making a meal with persimmon & apple crisp with cinnamon streusel, a side of vegan lentil-pecan breakfast sausage, and bowls of warm applesauce.
As for drinks, there are so many that complement these muffins! A hot pear cider with cinnamon and spices is a natural choice. Or make a cinnamon, pear, and rum cocktail, you can even use homemade zero-proof rum alternative!
More Muffins and Breakfast Breads to Try
Mini Pear and Anise Whole Wheat Muffins
- 2 Bosc Pears seed removed, diced into half inch pieces
- 1 Tbsp Water
- ⅓ Cup Quick Oats
- 1 Egg room temperature
- 3 Tbsp Butter melted
- 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tsp Anise Extract
- 1 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
- ¼ Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Baking Soda
- ½ tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Apple Cider
- 1 Tbsp Sparkling Sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center, and grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan.
- Add the pears and water to a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, covered, for 5-8 minute, stirring occasionally until the pears have softened. Continue cooking an additional 3-5 minutes uncovered, smashing the pears against the sides and bottom of the pot.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the pear puree with the oats, egg, butter, vinegar, and anise extract. Stir until smooth.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until combined.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet along with the apple cider, until just combined, and there are no obvious streaks or pockets of flour.
- Transfer the muffin batter to the prepared pan and top with sparkling sugar. Bake for 13-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean, and the tops bounce back when gently pressed. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes until they can be handled. Then cool completely on a wire rack.
- Serve at room temperature or warm with butter.
- Make ahead tips: The baked muffins can be stored at room temperature for up to one day, in a sealed container. Transfer to the fridge and store for an additional 3-5 days. Freeze muffins for up to 3 months.
- Pears: Bosc pears, which have a slightly spiced flavor pair excellently with the anise in these muffins. However, you can also use Bartlett or D'anjou pears if you prefer.
- Anise extract: For a more subtle anise flavor, use only 1/2 tsp of extract. For a stronger flavor use up to 1 1/2 tsp. Anise flavor will be stronger as the muffins are stored at room temperature or in the fridge.
- Flour: If you prefer, you can replace the white whole wheat flour with an equal amount of all-purpose flour.
- Muffin pan: If you do not have a 24-cup pan, you can use two 12-cup mini muffin pans. You can also use single 12-cup pan and work in batches, greasing in between.