Ento-Muffins

My family is headed to a soccer tournament this weekend, which means lots of hours spent hanging out between games and trying to snack our teenage player the right foods at the right times. After more than a decade of competitive soccer, he’s pretty good at knowing what and when he wants to eat. Among his favorite pre-game snacks? Chocolate chip muffins.

I make these a lot and they’re always a hit. I generally make them as mini muffins because they’re easier to eat in the car.

This time, though, I decided to experiment with the recipe by adding a little cricket powder to the mixture. I’m not fooling myself. These still aren’t “health food.” But they’re definitely healthier than they were before.

Cricket flour, also known as cricket protein powder, is made from 100 percent ground crickets. To make this flour, the crickets are roasted and then milled. When baking with cricket flour, you can’t just wholesale substitute cricket flour for all-purpose flour. Gluten helps dough rise and lends shape and a chewy texture to baked goods. Crickets don’t have any gluten. When baking, the general rule of thumb is that you can use cricket protein to replace one-fourth to one-third of the flour called for in a recipe. Because these muffins are so light — both in color and texture — I went with a low ratio of cricket powder. The original recipe called for two cups of flour; I replaced just one-fourth of a cup with cricket powder. I’ve purchased cricket flour from multiple sources. The product used in this recipe came from Oregon-based Cricket Flours.

The result is a fluffy, perfectly sweet muffin. It’s so close to the original that my family gobbled them up without a second thought. Remember: When trying to incorporate cricket protein into your diet, sometimes baby steps are the way to go.

This basic muffin recipe comes from The Joy of Cooking. I had leftover cream in the fridge, so I used a mix of cream and milk. The flexible amount of butter or oil allows you to control the richness of the muffins. I, of course, opted to use the full eight tablespoons. I also added chocolate chips – my family’s favorite.

Ento-Muffins

1 ¾ cups all-purpose baking flour

¼ cup cricket powder

1 tablespoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk or cream

2/3 cup granulated sugar

4 to 8 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 to 1-1/2 cups of fresh, frozen, or dried berries or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cricket powder, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk/cream, sugar, butter, and vanilla. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and mix together just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix; the batter should not be smooth. Stir in chocolate chips, berries, or other add-in.

Divide the batter among muffin cups. Makes 12 full-size muffins (bake 12-15 minutes) or 24 mini muffins (bake 8 to 10 minutes).

Updated Charcuterie

I love charcuterie. At holiday parties. At office parties. At football-viewing parties. It’s like a mini buffet of tasty goodness.

Watch any Foot Network show and they’ll talk about the foods that typically go on a charcuterie board. They’ll encourage you to artfully arrange a variety cured meats, cheese, olives, nuts, dried fruit, crackers, jelly, or jam.

There are no rules with charcuterie… which is why I decided to add roasted crickets from Cricket Flours to my last board. It was a first for me, so I didn’t go nuts and sprinkle them all over the place … just added a simple ramekin full of crickets to the board. And I didn’t say anything. I just let my guests discover them on their own.

As with most new things, the crickets elicited mixed reviews. Many guests wouldn’t even try them. Of those who bravely sampled the crickets, some complained about the legs and antennae that not caught in their teeth. Others said they liked the crunch and flavor. A few turned for second and third helpings of crickets.

I’m not certain I’ll include crickets on every charcuterie board, but it truly was a fun way to shake things up. And, it got a few people to step outside their comfort zone … I don’t think that’s ever a bad thing.