Archive for the ‘Muffins’ Category

A healthier chocolate muffin

August 4, 2011

Banana Chocolate Muffins

Anna at Cookie Madness posted a recipe for Apple Butter Chocolate Muffins and I nearly went running to the kitchen to make them. The only problem is I don’t have apple butter on hand, I don’t have enough apples to make any, I don’t have applesauce to reduce, and I don’t have time to run to the grocery store. I didn’t let any of that stop me. I did have an overripe banana on the counter and I thought it might be okay in place of the apple butter.

I have a personal pet peeve about comments on blogs and recipe sites that say, “I made  your recipe but I changed this, that and the next thing and my results are different than yours. What did I do wrong”? Swapping out banana for apple butter is a major ingredient swap. I hoped it would work, but if it didn’t I could only blame my cavalier ways in the kitchen. (All that said, I love to read your comments, and am happy to answer any questions you might have… even if you change things up to suit your own tastes or what you have on hand.)

The muffins are relatively low in fat and the fruit adds to the sweetness in a tasty, healthy way. The white whole wheat flour adds to the nutritional profile and the chocolate chips and cocoa add a bit of decadence without being over the top.

How did they turn out? They’re very tasty and just moist enough. They’re tall with nice crowns, and they smell great! When apple season rolls around I’ll definitely make some apple butter and make these according to Anna’s recipe. In the meantime. Here’s how I made them.

The banana substitution made me concerned that they wouldn’t be as moist as they would be with apple butter. Let’s face it. There are a lot of differences between banana and apple butter. I added a little almond milk, and upped the spices and hoped for the best.

Cross section of Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Chocolate Muffins (Adapted from Cookie Madness’ Apple Butter Chocolate Muffins)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour (114 grams)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (28 grams)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of allspice
pinch of cloves
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (63 grams)
1/2 cup mashed overripe bananas (114 grams)
2 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 generous tablespoons vegetable oil (30-33 ml)
1/2 T. almond milk
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 6 silicone cupcake molds with release spray. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl. In a mixing bowl, stir the brown sugar, mashed banana, egg whites, vanilla, almond milk and oil together. Pour the dry mixture into the banana mixture and stir until almost mixed. Add the chocolate chips and mix just until incorporated. Divide batter equally among the cupcake molds. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs.

Pumpkin Muffins

October 4, 2010
Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

The cheesecake brownies in the previous post left me with part of a can of pumpkin. This recipe used most of the rest of the can. It turns out I’m going to be on the go a lot this week. One of these muffins stashed in my purse will be a great breakfast or snack when I don’t have time for a sit down meal.

This recipe is easy to stir up and yields 12 nicely crowned, perfectly moist muffins. For me the spices were right on, and they made the house smell wonderful while they were baking.  My changes to the recipe were minimal. I used dark raisins instead of golden raisins, and 1/4 c. chopped walnuts instead of the pumpkin seeds.

Here is the link to the recipe.

Pumpkin Spice Muffin

Pumpkin Spice Muffin

Banana Oat Muffins

October 2, 2009

These are fairly healthy stick to your ribs fare. They aren’t very sweet, and they’re not too high in fat. In other words they’re the kind of muffin you can eat for breakfast, or serve as a snack and feel like you’ve offered some good nutritious food instead of a cupcake masquerading as a muffin.

No doubt there are people who buy bananas specifically for baking, but when I bake with bananas it’s because I purchased too many and if I don’t bake with them or stick them in the freezer for smoothies they’re going to go to waste. I also had some yogurt to use up. You’d think with that combo that I would have made a smoothie and popped the rest of the bananas in the freezer, but I couldn’t let go of the idea of a banana muffin using yogurt. You could make these even lower in fat by leaving out the walnuts, but I wanted the crunch, and I’m starting to appreciate walnuts more than I did in the past. You could probably add in a few chocolate chips and have a muffin that tastes more like a treat.

I’d like to try some honey in these instead of the brown sugar. Next time….

Banana Oat Muffins 001

Banana Oat Muffins (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites)

1 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
3/4 c. ground rolled oats
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
2-3 ripe bananas
1 egg
2 T. vegetable oil
1/2 c. plain non-fat yogurt
1 egg white

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. (I used silicone cupcake liners and have learned NOT to spray them.)
Whisk together the first six ingredients. Process the oats in a food processor until you have a course flour. Whisk the oats into the other dry ingredients. Stir in the walnuts.
Break the bananas into chunks and process in the food processor. (I used 2 1/2 bananas) Blend in the yogurt, oil and the egg.
In a separate bowl beat the egg until it becomes white and foamy but not stiff.
Fold the banana mixture and the beaten egg white into the dry ingredients until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the muffin should come out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then remove to a wire rack until completely cooled.

Muffins and Birthday Cake

September 7, 2009

Our son was home for a few days before the fall term starts. It was great to have him here!

While he was here we celebrated his 20th birthday. Hard to believe that we no longer have a teenager! For his birthday celebration I made an angel food cake per his request. The pictures aren’t very good. They were taken at night with poor, funky lighting, but the cake tasted great. The recipe is from Baking Illustrated and I will definitely make it again. This time I used frozen egg whites that we’ve been saving when we have an ice cream recipe that calls for yolks. The frozen egg whites worked fine but next time I’d like to try it with fresh egg whites just to see if there is a difference. You can see the recipe here. The original recipe calls for lemon juice too, but I omitted that. It just doesn’t seem like it belongs in angel food cake. For the icing I used the Fluffy White Icing from the America’s Test Kitchen’s Ultimate Lemon Layer Cake. This is the ultimate fluffy white icing in my opinion. The recipe has already been posted here, and once again I omitted the lemon juice that the original recipe calls for.

You can see that I didn’t beat the icing long enough. The peaks should be a bit firmer, but it tasted good and had a lovely shine.

Angel Food Birthday Cake

Angel Food Birthday Cake

Sliced Angel Food Cake

Sliced Angel Food Cake

I also made some muffins while he was here. Sadly there are no pictures of them, but you can see the recipe here. It’s a good basic muffin recipe. I made them with fresh peaches and a streusel topping. Half of the muffins were plain streusel the other half had pecans in the streusel. I was out of eggs so I subbed some reconstituted dried egg whites and the muffins turned out fine. If you click over to the recipe you’ll see that there are a lot of variations listed. The recipe looks to be exactly the way it is written in the book so it’s worth looking at. With all of the variations listed you’re sure to hit on something you like.

I also made a loaf of honey white bread, our son’s favorite, and sent that with him without taking a picture.

I hope you all had a wonderful labor day weekend!

A twist on corn muffins

June 9, 2009
Savory Corn Muffins

Savory Corn Muffins

These muffins are based on Bobby Flay’s, Mesa Grill, Blue Corn Muffins. I found the original recipe here, but I made a lot of changes based on what I had available.

For starters I traded out the red onions for chives from our garden. The chives are beautiful this year and I’ve been trying to dream up ways to use them. I omitted the red bell peppers because they don’t agree with either of us, and I accidentally omitted the corn. I would like to make them again and I’ll be sure to put the corn in next time, even though they are excellent without it. My local grocery store doesn’t carry blue corn meal so I subbed some course ground yellow corn meal.

Historically I’ve leaned toward sweeter corn breads while my husband has always preferred less sweet corn breads. These are great because they don’t have much sweetness but the savory additions made it so that I didn’t miss the sugar.

The cilantro came up on it’s own this year, and that makes me happy because last year we hardly got any cilantro from the garden. I was a bit timid with the jalapeno and seeded it because I was afraid it would be overpowering but next time I’m using seeds and all because while the jalapeno was there, the cilantro was the dominant flavor despite the amount of garlic and jalapeno in the recipe.

Here is the recipe as I made it, and I’m going to rename it Savory Corn Muffins.

Savory Corn Muffins

3/4 c. coarsely ground yellow corn meal (I used stone ground Hodgson Mill)

1/2 c. all purpose flour

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1/4 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)

1/4 c. chopped chives (I was quite generous with this measurement)

1/2 c. milk

2 large eggs

1 jalapeno, finely diced

1 T. finely chopped cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a six cup muffin tin with non stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the chives and the garlic and saute until the garlic just starts to turn golden on some of the edges.

In a large bowl whisk together the milk, eggs, butter mixture, honey, jalapeno and cilantro.

Add the dry ingredients to the milk and egg mixture, and mix until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly to make six muffins. Bake for 14-16 minutes.

Blueberry Muffins from Cook’s Illustrated

March 29, 2009
An excellent muffin!

An excellent muffin!

Yesterday I made the blueberry muffin recipe from the May/June issue of Cook’s Illustrated. The recipe is by Yvonne Ruperti. As I was making them I felt they had a lot of unnecessary steps. Melting and cooling butter, making jam, letting it cool, and making a topping. Maybe I was a little out of sorts because yesterday I wasn’t sure the muffins were special enough to warrant all of that fiddling. They’re muffins after all. There are thousands of recipes for blueberry muffins, most of which don’t require much fuss and that’s what I’m used to.

Even so I noticed how much I liked the grated lemon zest and sugar topping. It gives the muffins a little tang, and a little crunch. I also noted that I liked the crumb of the muffins. They’re moist and the flavors are very clear. They don’t require any additional butter or jam or at the table. They’re excellent just the way they are.

By the time afternoon tea rolled around I had decided that these muffins were worth every little step detailed in the recipe and I was sorry for my bad attitude towards them in the morning.

This morning before heading over to the gym I had one for a pre-work out snack, and my affection for these muffins was confirmed. They’re everything I want from a blueberry muffin.

I have some research to do about muffin tins. I thought mine was  a standard size muffin tin, but it’s very old, so maybe standard size has gotten bigger over the years. I had more batter than I could comfortably fit into twelve muffin cups but I did it anyway and my muffins are not as attractive as they could have been.

Moist crumb with good blueberry flavor.

Moist crumb with good blueberry flavor.

My photographs represent the most attractive of the twelve, and the cross section doesn’t represent how many blueberries there are in each muffin. There are plenty of blueberries and even though I had to use frozen fruit the blueberry flavor is excellent. I’m going to ask for permission to post the recipe and if I receive permission I’ll update this post. If I don’t get permission please refer to page 21 of the May/June issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

This post has been edited to include the recipe with permission from Cook’s Illustrated !

Best Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

Lemon Sugar Topping

1/3 c. (2 1/3 ounces) sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon


2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over

1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. For the topping: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.

2. For the muffins: Adust oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room remperature, 10-15 minutes.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 c. sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

4.Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.

5. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17-19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

To substitute frozen berries. Cook 1 cup as directed in Step 2. Rinse remaining berries under cold water and dry well. In step 3, toss dried berries into flour mixture before adding egg mixture. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Breakfast treats

January 11, 2009
Sugar and Spice Mini Muffins

Sugar and Spice Mini Muffins

When our children were little, and my Dad came for a visit he would buy them “Breakfast Treats” at least once during his visit. The “Breakfast Treats” were donuts. He is an early riser so he would be up before anyone else and he would take off to choose the treats, making sure that he got all the favorites. As long as there were glazed donuts and donuts with sprinkles for the kids, I don’t think anyone really cared what he brought back.

In between visits we make do with homemade breakfast treats. Breakfast treats of any kind are not regular items here, so when they appear they are very much appreciated. The following muffin recipe is among the favorites, especially for my son. They make me think of donut holes only better. When they’re hot out of the oven you dip them in butter and then roll them in a cinnamon sugar mixture. It’s hard not to pop them in your mouth as your doing this.

When I woke up this morning I realized that we would be taking our son back to college a week from today. This week I’ll try to make as many of his favorites as possible. He says the University dining service just isn’t the same. Imagine that!

This muffin recipe has been around even longer than I have been. It goes by many different names. The two that I’ve heard most often are French Breakfast Puffs, and Sugar and Spice muffins. While I don’t know this for sure I doubt the French eat anything like this, so I call mine Sugar and Spice Mini Muffins. They can be made as 36 mini muffins or 12 standard size muffins.

Sugar and Spice Mini Muffins

1 3/4 c. flour

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. nutmeg

1/3 c. vegetable oil

3/4 c. sugar

1 egg

3/4 c. milk


2/3 c. melted butter

3/4 c. sugar

1 t. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray.

Whisk together the first five ingredients in a mixing bowl. With a whisk beat together the sugar, oil, egg, and milk in a seperate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients blending well.

Divide the mixture evenly between 36 mini muffin wells, or 12 standard size muffin wells.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes.

While the muffins are baking melt the butter for the topping in one bowl and set aside. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar mixture and set aside. When the muffins are baked remove from the pans while they’re still hot and dip each one in the butter, and then roll in the sugar.