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Pear and ginger; it’s hardly an original idea, but it’s certainly a good one, as the classic combination features over and over again in cookbooks, magazines and on baking websites. This is my first foray, though I’ve had the idea on my mind for some time now. It was probably autumn last year when I was first inspired, but the season was well and truly over before I got around to trying them. This time round, already I’ve made pear and rhubarb crumble, a pear and chocolate pie, and now pear and ginger muffins – so be prepared for a pear overload this year – I will be busy making the most of the fruit while it’s cheap!

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Growing up, the only pears I remember eating were tinned, not fresh. (Most vividly, a memory of tinned pears suspended in green jelly for dessert – ugh!) But once introduced to the ‘real deal’ they quickly became one of the few fruits I really love. There are several varieties you can buy throughout the autumn and winter months, but Packham pears are my favourite. They are just a bit softer and sweeter than the others, and therefore better for sharing with the toddler, too. You can use whichever pears you prefer in this recipe, but just be aware that it may affect the texture of your muffins somewhat.

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Originally inspired by this recipe in a magazine, but completely made over, these muffins are gluten and dairy-free. You can make them with wheat flour, but just be aware that they will be drier and may need less flour/more liquid than the gluten-free version (gluten-free flour is finer and soaks up liquid a lot quicker than wheat flour). Let’s just say that you will probably only need 1 ¼ cups plain (all-purpose) wheat flour to make 12 muffins. Whatever you do, make sure that you go the distance and include the crunchy nut topping; it helps to make these muffins extra special! Enjoy.

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Pear, chocolate and ginger muffins with crunchy nut topping {gluten-free + dairy-free}

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients
¾ cup plain (all-purpose) GF flour
¼ cup brown rice flour
½ cup almond meal (ground almonds) or hazelnut meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or mixed spice
Pinch salt
½ cup soft brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon golden syrup or light molasses
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 large ripe Packham pear, peeled, cored and chopped (175g/1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallised ginger
1/3 cup dairy-free chocolate, roughly chopped

TOPPING:
¼ cup finely chopped macadamia nuts or pecans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Method
Preheat oven to 180degC/350degF. Line 12 regular ½-cup muffins tins with muffin papers.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and baking soda, ginger, salt and ground cloves. Add in almond meal and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, beat brown sugar, golden syrup, oil and eggs. Gradually stir egg mixture into flour mixture until blended. Fold in chopped pears, ginger and chocolate until just combined. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.

For topping, combine chopped nuts, brown sugar and ground ginger in a small bowl. Sprinkle over muffin batter and press down lightly.

Bake muffins 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted near the centre comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Serve warm.

Loosely based on a recipe from Taste of Home

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