Mom always says January and February are the toughest months to get through. The holiday hustle and bustle of November and December is over, always a letdown. It’s the peak of winter. Barring some crazy unusual weather, as we’ve had recently, day in and day out it is cloudy, freezing cold, windy, and there always seems to be a threat of snow, or worse, ice. The days are still short and things are generally just a bummer. And this is all coming from Mom, who is literally the most positive person I know.
But I’m here to cheer everyone up. January and February – they’re not entirely without merit. I already talked about the Super Bowl. Even though I’m not the biggest football fan, it’s a lot of fun to cheer for teams through the playoffs and big game. Then there’s Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, or Paczki Day depending on where you live. It’s the day before Lent begins where we are encouraged to eat our fill. It’s a day of King Cakes, and paczki, or giant filled doughnuts.
My favorite part of January and February is awards season. Until I actually have the chance to go, I watch red carpet coverage, the awards, and fashion wrap and spend the next day searching out my favorite looks. I live for this stuff, living vicariously through my favorite actors, actresses, and singers, until I have my own shot. Mom and I watch together, cheering our favorites (Homeland!), calling out best and worst dressed, and hopefully laughing a heck of a lot. Even if it’s just for a few hours, even if I can’t stop wishing I could put on a big ball gown, even if the weather is the worst ever, I am enthralled and excited. I am filled with joy.
If all of this isn’t enough to make you at least moderately okay with these two maligned months, how about a tropical vacation? Most of you probably enjoy travel, unlike me. The beginning of the year sounds like the best time to get away, go somewhere warm, relax on the beach, a frozen drink in hand. If travel can’t happen, at least we can have the flavors of the tropics.
I love mangos, but find them to be pretty hit or miss throughout the year. During the winter months is when they are the best. Right now they are at their peak. I needed to make some muffins, had a few perfectly ripe mangos on hand, and needed an imaginary trip to the tropics even with awards season. So I made these tropical mango muffins.
Full of fresh diced mango, toasted macadamia nuts, and tons of spices, these muffins are a healthy way to start your day. They are easy to make, freeze perfectly to heat up on those crazy busy mornings, and are portable. Super moist, they are full of flavor and fresh, healthy ingredients. The mango and macadamias, along with ginger and cloves, are paired perfectly, along with an optional cinnamon-sugar topping for a bit of texture. Tropical Mango Muffins are sure to get you through winter.
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup demerara sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup almond milk
- 2 cups mango, peeled, seeded, and diced
- ½ cup unsalted macadamia nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon demerara sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil 10 cups in a muffin tin generously, including the tops.
- In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, oil, and vanilla until combined. Stir in eggs. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture and stir until fully combined. It will be very thick. Stir in the almond milk. Add the mango and nuts, and stir until just combined.
- Using a regular sized ice cream scoop, scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling all the way to the top. Divide any remaining batter among the cups.
- In a small bowl stir together cinnamon and sugar to make the topping. Sprinkle topping over muffins. I usually do half with and half without. Bake for about 25 minutes, rotating halfway through if necessary, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out with only a few moist crumbs.
- Muffins may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 4 months. Thaw at room temperature for several hours, or in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes.