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If something has dates in it, I'll probably buy it. It's kind of like Beyoncé and sequins: We just can't help ourselves. I love that dates are such concentrated flavor vehicles. They satisfy my sweet tooth while seeming relatively healthy. They're vaguely exotic and they're ideal with another favorite of mine, honey.
The one catch is that baked goods containing dates can unfortunately be hit or miss. Too often the dates inside my scone or muffin are hard little nuggets that give dried figs a run for their money in the "I so want you to be good but alas you taste like a rock" category.
Yet I believe there is hope. Is it just me or have the quality of dates at supermarkets been going up lately? Are more being sold, ensuring freshness? Is America finding better producers? Have the dried fruit gods smiled, or the impish sweet-tooth gods decided to finally do me in? At the end of day the answer is irrelevant, so long as I can rely on fresh, soft dates to put in muffins like these.
These muffins make the most of the very compatible flavor trifecta of honey, orange, and dates. I love that an entire orange (minus the seeds) goes into these muffins. The tiny pieces of peel add an occasional pop of marmalade-style bitterness, while the almost floral essence of orange perfumes every bite. There is no white sugar, only honey, which really brings out the flavor of the orange.
Because they're good quality, I leave the dates in quarter-inch pieces and smile every time I get a bite.
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