Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chocolate Oh Chocolate

There are very few people I know who truly do not like chocolate.  In fact most people I know are quite the opposite, they love the sweet stuff.  Now that I have a niece, I keep  Nestle's Nesquik on hand.   It's fun to mix that classic powder into a glass of cold milk and go down the road of childhood memories.  There isn't anything that a nibble or sip of chocolate won't make better.  My preference is dark chocolate but I certainly won't turn down other varieties.  Chocolate goes with just about anything. I love it when chocolate is used as a base in other foods or drinks to enhance flavor.  Mexican Hot Chocolate delights the taste buds with its hints of chili and other spices.  And, of course there is Nutella, the chocolate-hazelnut creamy spread that you just want to eat right out of the jar!  The wonderful Patricia Polacco, bestselling children's author & illustrator shares her family recipe for Chocolate Cake in the classic Thundercake.  The wonderful surprise is the addition of pureed tomatoes which intensifies the cake.

The enhancement in this chocolate muffin recipe is the actual muffin.  It's lighter and more of a sponge-cake texture.  I actually used half cake flour and half all-purpose flour.  Also, I love that the recipe calls for applesauce, buttermilk, and egg whites.  That cuts down on the fat that butter and oil would add. The applesauce adds a sweet taste and the buttermilk a nice tang. The actual recipe makes 24 mini muffins, but in this instance, I chose to make 12 "regular sized" muffins.  Great to bring to work, save for a snack, or eat whenever...!  If you have the willpower not to eat them all right a way the muffins can be wrapped tightly and kept in the freezer.

1/2 cup canola oil
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar or Splenda which can be used measure for measure
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup cake flour (Softasilk) and 1 cup all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup cocoa powder (Dutch process)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips *

Preheat oven to 400*.  Spray a cupcake or muffin tray and line with paper liners

In a medium bowl, whisk together the first six (6) ingredients, and set aside

In another bowl, large in size, combine the remaining six (6) ingredients and stir.  Making a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and stir in the wet mixture.  Make sure all ingredients are combined and moist.

Using an ice-cream scoop to evenly distribute the  batter into the cupcake tray and liners.  Each paper liner should be approximately 2/3 filled.

Bake for 15-minutes or until the center springs back lightly when touched.  Cool for 5 minutes.

** I like to be creative with the last ingredient -- I will use white chocolate chips, Peanut Butter Chips, a mix of semi-sweet and dark, or even Heath Bar chips. 

Adapted from the Two-Bite Double Chocolate Muffin by Marlene Koch