Sweeten the day with yummy gluten-free muffins

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Short or long? High heels or flats? Hair up or down? So many decisions and this wasn’t even my prom. But I was going. And these questions needed answering.

For two years now, I have been a parent chaperone for our high school prom. It’s a job I absolutely enjoy. Yes, it’s fun to get dressed up, travel to a swanky hotel and partake in a nice dinner. But the part I like most is watching the kids interact with each other.

From the squeals of excitement from the girls, the concentrated nonchalance of the boys, and the flurry of photo-taking by parents and friends, the night of prom is people-watching at its best.

My senior prom, back in 1984, was slightly different from the prom of 2017. Even though it was held at a hotel downtown, the prom did not include dinner or a photo booth. No one arrived in a limo. And my mom hand-sewed my lavender dress that had a lace overlay.

I graduated from high school in the South, so the prom dresses were not only conservative but were sweet princess ball gowns in white or pastel colors. Except for one. Melissa Dailey wore a black (black!), strapless (strapless!) floor length column dress that caused jaws to drop and tongues to wag all night. I thought she looked terrific.

Today, black is de rigueur for prom dresses. One of the other parent chaperones and I admired all the beautiful dresses at this year’s prom. There were some yellow ones (the theme was Beauty & the Beast) and lots of blinged-out ones.

My fellow parent chaperone is originally from England and she mentioned that they didn’t have high school proms when she was growing up. This got me wondering. How did this American high school tradition come to be?

I learned that the first proms were simple dances held at colleges in the Northeast starting in the late 1800s. They were meant to teach young men and women good manners and started off with a promenade, or march, of guests at the beginning of the event.

By the turn of the century, proms, as they now were called, were being held for high school seniors. With vigilant adult supervision, the senior class would gather in the high school gym for a night of socializing and dancing to a record player or local band.

As the century progressed, so did proms. Dinners were added and the events were moved from gyms to hotels and country clubs. After a brief dip in the 1960s and 1970s, proms resurged in the 80s and continue to be well attended today.

Well, after a night of being one of the “watchful eyes,” my feet hurt – obviously, I had chosen the heels. I was ready to go home and enjoy a cup of hot chamomile tea and one of the muffins I had baked earlier in the day.

The recipe for these delicious muffins comes from Martha Stewart Living magazine. The cornmeal adds sweetness and texture while the almond flour keeps things gluten-free. They made for a sweet ending to a lovely evening.


Gluten-Free Blackberry Lemon Cornmeal Muffins

Makes 1 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries, halved

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray or lightly brush with butter. Alternatively, tin can be lined with baking cups. In a small bowl, combine almond flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest with mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Add flour mixture and beat until flour is just incorporated. Do not overmix. Add one cup of the blackberries and stir gently to combine.

Divide batter evenly in muffin cups. Top filled muffin cups with remaining blackberries and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown and centers spring back when lightly touched, about 25 minutes. Let cool five minutes before loosening edges and transferring muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Betty Williams