The Muffin Drop owner Emily Eldh’s gluten-free and vegan recipes were inspired by a doctor’s appointment that led her to take control of her health | Photos by Ruta Smith

When the pandemic derailed Emily Eldh’s plan to move to New York City after graduating from College of Charleston in 2020, she pivoted to a career as an entrepreneur. Having experience in social media management and the opportunity to work for herself, she perfected the recipe for her vegan and gluten-free mini muffins. The new venture was dubbed The Muffin Drop.

Emily started baking the mini muffins years ago as she transitioned to a plant-based and gluten-free diet, per her doctor’s recommendation.

“When I was 16, I had constant fatigue, weird mood swings [and was] losing weight,” said Eldh, now 24. “One of the first holistic doctors I went to tested my blood and [said], ‘You’re so sick with Hashimato’s thyroiditis … You should be in the hospital.’ ”

Eager to take charge of her health, Eldh fully embraced her new diet, constantly trying new recipes until she found comfort in a vegan banana bread recipe.

Pulling from her memory of her mom and grandma’s banana chocolate chip mini muffins, Eldh did extensive research on gluten-free flours and vegan alternatives to recreate the beloved pastries for her new diet. 

“I instinctively knew the texture of my grandma and mom’s recipe and combined all the different details and information I could find [to make my own].” 

Though her mom and grandma may have inspired the recipe, it was her father who helped Eldh perfect the recipe along the way. Each week, he would request the muffins, and with every new batch, encouraged Eldh to write down what she had done differently from previous recipes. 

After seven years of trial and error, the recipe was ready. And despite being a taste-tester the whole time, Eldh’s dad still requests the muffins.  

When Eldh went off to college, the muffins remained in her gluten-free and plant-based diet, baking them weekly for roommates, surprising people with them as gifts or sharing them with house guests. 

“My favorite thing about [the muffins] is they’re so versatile. I eat them throughout the day as a snack because they’re small,” Eldh said. “I love using them in different breakfast variations, whether in a yogurt bowl or an acai bowl, but my favorite way to eat them is covering them in peanut butter and jelly.”

Each ingredient in her recipes is chosen to not only support her diet but to offer additional health benefits, Eldh said.

For instance, The Muffin Drop’s signature flabor, “The Classic” is made with almond flour, flax seeds, bananas and sometimes maple syrup or coconut sugar. The almond flour, which is naturally gluten free, is full of fiber and protein to hold off hunger throughout the day. Flax seeds provide fiber and support healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and the bananas provide potassium and add natural sweetness. Eldh also uses maple syrup or coconut sugar to sweeten the muffins.

In addition to “The Classic,” The Muffin Drop also offers “stuffins” — muffins  stuffed with almond butter and jelly or peanut butter and chocolate.

For a seasonal flare, a pumpkin spice mini muffin topped with maple glaze and crushed walnuts appeared on the menu this fall. And on special request, Eldh transforms the same batter from the muffins into a cake fit for any special occasion. 

Eldh started “The Muffin Drop” on Instagram after polling her followers to see if anyone would be interested in buying the mini muffins on a weekly basis. The interest was clear when she received over 30 messages in response to her post.  

The name came from the fact she originally “dropped” a new menu each week with featured flavors that customers could order via direct message. New menus would debut on Monday and customers could either pick up or have their muffins delivered on Wednesdays.

Drops have been a bit more random, Eldh said, but customers can still order via DM. You can also find the plant-based treats at the Charleston City Market. Eldh started out at the Night Market on Friday and Saturday nights, but is now vending at the market during the day. 

“Being at the market has been super cool,” Eldh said. “There’s so many more people you interact with on a daily basis. Whether there’s a sale or not, you get to talk to people from all different places.”

Going forward, Eldh plans on sticking with the muffins as the main product, with new flavors every now and then. 

“There’s something to build around the muffin concept. I like that it’s one product that can have multiple variations and has such a following,” Eldh said. 

A 12-piece box of “The Classic” flavor is $15 and a 16-piece box is $20. The stuffins come in a pack of 6 for $12 and the pumpkin spice flavor comes in a pack of 12 for $18. 

Eldh is currently building The Muffin Drop website to streamline ordering, but for now customers can place orders via Instagram DM or visit The Muffin Drop at the Charleston City Market.