Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Once upon a time, there was a family with a mama who recently went back to work. There was a lot to adjust to and the thought of anything Purim-related made this mother feel like weeping into her overstuffed box of costumes. Yet, every year her family delivered a themed mishloach manot each year, and she did not want to disappoint. In the middle of the night, it came to her. This year’s theme would be “Balayla Hahu Nadida Shnat Hamelech….” A boxed midnight snack, consisting of a muffin or two and a chocolate milk box, because if Achashverosh couldn’t sleep, we’re going to assume others can’t sleep either.

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But when could she bake the muffins? Purchasing all the muffins did occur to her, and she would have placed an order at the bakery, when in an exciting plot twist, snow, entered the mix!

Indeed, it seemed that the maker of snow-days smiled on this mother and her family, and with two extra free days in one week, she baked. And baked. And her children, too, baked and baked. And lo and behold, a mountain of muffins appeared before them on the dining room table. They did eat some, but there were many left, and so, very carefully and with washed hands, the children wrapped each muffin in foil, while the mom gently placed them into freezer bags.  And when they were done, the freezer was full (and so was the sink) and yet they all danced and sang together in the kitchen, happily ever after.

Bonus story: The children miraculously and unanimously agreed to wear pajamas as their costumes this Purim!

Now, it is weeks after our story ended and this mama is ready to pack her mishloach manot boxes.

 

A few tips:

Plain muffin boxes are the simplest to buy – they are available on Amazon (Prime!) or at your local Michael’s store. Or, if you are close with the counter-person at your local bakery, you might even be able to score a bunch for free. They can also be easily decorated by little hands with markers, stickers and, if you don’t really like your neighbors, glitter.

The boxes we bought have four muffin holes. Each box will get three muffins and a chocolate milk box.

If you cannot find muffin boxes or do not want to spend the money on them, use a paper lunch bag instead. These bags can also be decorated and sealed with a sticker and come with the bonus price tag of 500 bags for under $2.

Remember to seal each box with a Happy Purim sticker and then you are done. (Except for the delivering. Raise your hand if you’re way too tired to deliver. Don’t worry; I can see your hand, even though you’re lying on the floor.)

To start the baking process (which was much more seamless than I had anticipated, considering this was a kid-heavy operation), decide on your muffin varieties in advance. There are so many options to choose from; I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy to narrow down the list, but eventually I whittled it down to eight flavor combinations, and ultimately chose three. But I can’t tell you which three. I have to keep at least one thing a secret until Purim day.

 

Muffin Flavor Combos:

Blueberry
Apple Cinnamon
Chocolate Chocolate Chip
White Chocolate Chip and Raspberry
Banana Walnut
Corn
Carrot
Coffee and Chocolate Chip

 

A Very Basic Muffin Recipe:

(makes 18 regular sized muffins or 54 mini muffins)

3 cups flour
4½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
¾ cup canola oil
1¼ cup of milk – dairy or almond
1½ cup of add-ins

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Either line muffin tins with cupcake liners or bake in silicone muffin molds.

In a large bowl, mix the flour and baking powder. Add the sugar, and stir to combine. In a second bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla, oil, and milk. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until barely combined. Now is the time to mix in the add-ins of your choice. Fold the add-ins into the batter, just until all the ingredients are combined. Use an ice cream scoop to fill regular sized muffin tins or a small spoon to fill a mini-muffin tin.

Bake the muffins for 15-18 minutes, checking them at the 15-minute mark and every minute thereafter. Allow the muffins to completely cool on a cooling rack before wrapping them in either aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and then sealing them into ziptop freezer bags in the freezer. Be extra sure to label the bags or there will be muffin confusion later on.

 

For the combinations:

Blueberry Muffins: Add in 1½ cups of frozen or fresh blueberries.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins: Wash and peel two medium-sized yellow apples. Finely chop the apples and fold into the batter along with 1 tsp. cinnamon.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins: Add in 4 tbsp of cocoa powder and 1½ cups mini chocolate chips.

White Chocolate Chip and Raspberry Muffins: Add in 1½ cups white chocolate chips and 1 cup frozen mini raspberries.

Banana Walnut Muffins: Add 1½ cups mashed ripe banana and 1 cup chopped unsalted walnuts.

Corn Muffins: Add in ¾ cup canned creamed corn.

Carrot Muffins: Replace the milk in the original recipe with orange juice, and add in 2 cups shredded carrots.

Coffee and Chocolate Chip Muffins: Add 1 tsp warm instant coffee, 1 tsp cocoa powder, and 1½ cups mini chocolate chips.

Picking muffin flavors is not an easy job. But at least we’re not cleaning for Pesach here.

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