A couple of weeks ago, while at the annual Anniversary Weekend of the mosque where I went to pre-school, I tried pawpaw fruit for the first time. The mosque has a farm where they grow a number of different fruits and vegetables. And as I wandering around, I stopped to admire (hungrily, I might add) the apples that had been brought in from the farm. In a small wicker basket on the edge of the table with the apples, were a fruit that I thought might be some kind of mango or papaya. Unsure, I asked what they were. “Pawpaws”, came the reply.
Pickin up pawpaws, put ‘em in your pocket… A familiar, yet unfamiliar, tune made its way into my head. Please tell me you also remember this nursery rhyme from your childhood?!
Upon asking a few more questions (and a couple google searches), I found out that pawpaw trees are native to the north east of the United States and are absolutely not related to papaya, which occasionally are given the nickname pawpaw. They do, however, taste very tropical, a bit like a banana crossed with a mango and a hint of something that would make it the perfect accompaniment to a Piña Colada, and have the texture of papaya. Their seeds are shaped like the stretched out pennies you can get as a souvenir at the zoo and there are lots of them, which make them a bit messy to eat.
I had my first few bites of pawpaw and we threw ideas back and forth about what could be done with them, aside from eating them fresh – smoothies, curry, chilli, tea loaf, muffins, cookies, custard, were a few of the ones we came up with. I did really like them fresh, but always one to leap at the chance to try new ingredients and recipes, I accepted the challenge to take 6 medium sized pawpaws and make something, anything, with them. With my roadtrip to Maine coming up, I opted to make muffins, figuring they’d make a good snack for during the long ride. The recipe I came up with, which is included below, is inspired by the pawpaw’s similarities to banana and the fall weather. In order to get the puree, I washed, peeled, and de-seeded the pawpaws and then put the meat through a food processor for just 1-2 minutes, until I had a mashed-banana-like consistency. The resulting muffin is really the perfect representation of autumnal spices. For that reason, it would be a good accompaniment to a Thanksgiving brunch. I’ve never tasted anything quite like it, but then again, until a few weeks ago neither had I ever tasted fresh pawpaw! And, of course, these could be made using banana, mashed sweet potato, squash, or pumpkin, or anything you feel goes well with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger!
Yield: 22 muffins
2 ¾ cup flour (I used a mixture of spelt & white rye)
1 7/8 tsp cream of tartar
¾ tsp salt
1 1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon (I use a Vietnamese cinnamon that I got through the King Arthur Flour website – I have never had such a fragrant cinnamon, even when I grate it myself)
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp each of allspice and ground ginger
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
1/3 cup mixed chocolate & cinnamon chips
Walnuts, roughly chopped (to sprinkle on top)
¼ cup vegetable oil
6 medium ripe pawpaws, pureed
5/8 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
Juice from ½ lemon
- Preheat oven to 375F (190C or 350F convection). Line muffin cups.
- In a medium bowl mix together flour, cream of tartar, salt, baking soda, spices, and lemon zest
- In the bowl of a mixer (or use a hand mixer), whisk oil, pawpaw puree, and sugar on medium speed until well mixed and fluffy. Add lemon juice and the eggs one at a time. Combine.
- Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until just combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Remove bowl form mixer and fold in coconut and chocolate/cinnamon chips.
- Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. (Mine cooked in 23 minutes in a convection oven at 350F.)