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Easy fresh cherry muffins with an almond twist

Recipe: Almond flavor three ways enhances the fruit-filled muffins

Cherry season finally has arrived. The early cherries are perfect to use in these muffins.

Cherry season finally has arrived. The early cherries are perfect to use in these muffins. Debbie Arrington

Bowl of bright red cherries
Cherry season is worth celebrating.

Cherries have finally arrived in local farmers markets. This season’s crop was weather delayed at least three weeks by our cool spring. But they’re ripening rapidly now in mid-May heat.

The earliest cherries typically aren’t the sweetest, but they’re still bursting with juiciness and cherry tartness. That makes them ideal for these easy muffins, studded with cherry “bombs.”

Almonds are a natural complement to cherries. Almond flour adds richness and moistness to the batter as well as a subtle nuttiness. Muffins made with almond flour also turn out a little shorter (and darker on top) tha all-wheat flour counterparts, but they’re very tender – just what a muffin should be.

Demerara sugar is my favorite muffin topper. This large-grained sugar adds crunch as well as sweetness, but white sugar works well, too.

Fresh cherry-almond muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup almond flour

¾ cup white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

2 tablespoons milk

1 large egg, beaten

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and quartered

¼ cup slivered almonds

2 tablespoons demerara or white sugar

Instructions:

12 baked muffins
Muffins fresh out of the oven.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin; either grease cups or line with paper or silicon liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, almond flour, ¾ cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, thin sour cream or yogurt with milk. Add egg, vegetable oil and extract.

Using a wooden spoon, mix sour cream/yogurt mixture with dry ingredients until just moistened. Batter will be thick. Gently fold in cherries.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle tops of muffins with slivered almonds, then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and cool on rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Store muffins in the refrigerator.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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