I love muffins. They're not as sweet as cupcakes, there's no frosting to worry about, and they are so darn easy and fast to make. You don't even need to get out your electric mixer. All you need is a good quality wire whisk, and you barely use that. This recipe was born after a thorough search of the internet produced no chocolate muffin recipe that I wanted. The base recipe I worked from was Recipe #60399, on recipezaar.com, called "Devil's Food Chocolate Chip Muffins." I substituted whole wheat flour for part of the white; substituted sour cream and Kahlua for part of the milk; substituted butter for the oil; and added toasted walnuts, instant coffee granules, molasses and a topping of cocoa-cinnamon-sugar. Though I increased the batter to 1-1/2 x the original, I kept the eggs at 2, instead of increasing them to 3. The results were outstanding. These muffins are to die for. They're moist, flavorful, very chocolatey, and not too sweet--just right I think. If you're a real sugar freak you probably won't like them, but you could always add more sugar. The cocoa-cinnamon-sugar topping makes a tender crust with the first layer of flavors. First you taste the cocoa-cinnamon-sugar, then you taste the chocolate muffin, then you get the nuts and chips. Wow! Amazing! I really, really love these. You should get a yield of 22-24 standard size muffins, depending on how you fill the wells. What I got was 18 standard muffins plus 18 mini muffins.
A word about toasting nuts: If you can do it in the frying pan without burning them, more power to you. I've never been able to do it. I always toast my nuts by starting them in a cold oven, then turning the oven on 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes, then turn oven off, stir nuts, leave them in for about 5 more minutes. They come out perfect for me. I use a pie tin to put the nuts in, unless I'm doing a large quantity, then I use a sheet pan. Toasted nuts have much more flavor than raw nuts and are easier to break up into pieces. They're worth the extra effort.
Chocolate Lovers Muffins
INGREDIENTS: 1 cup walnuts
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour
1-1/3 cups sugar3 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt, preferably sea salt (it has minerals)
1 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's regular)
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips of your choice, divided use (I used 1/2 Hershey's
Milk Chocolate, 1/2 Hershey's Special Dark)
2 large eggs1/2 cup sour cream (I used Breakstone reduced fat)
1 cup milk (I used 2%, but I think skim or 1% would work)1/2 cup Coffee Brandy, such as Kahlua (I used Sambroso, a generic brand)
1 Tbsp. coffee powder (I used Folger's Decaf)
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract2 Tbsp. molasses (I used Grandma's original)
Topping: 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 4 Tbsp. sugar
DIRECTIONS: Put the walnuts in a pie tin or other baking dish and set them in a cold oven. Turn oven to 350 degrees F. After 10 minutes, stir the nuts, and turn the oven off. Leave in for 5 more minutes, then remove to cool. Check the nuts -- if they are done early, take them out. You will know if you start smelling them and they are turning a darker color. Although this timing works for me, ovens vary greatly, so just use it as a guide.
Heat cold butter on high, covered, in microwave oven till almost melted, about 1 minute or so. Remove cover and let cool. Little pieces of butter will continue to melt after you turn the heat off.
Have all other ingredients at room temperature before starting. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Prepare muffin tins by greasing and flouring, or spray with flour-added cooking spray.
Measure flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into large mixing bowl and whisk till well combined. Add half the chocolate chips and whisk again. (Note: measure the flours by lightly spooning into measuring cup, then leveling with a spatula or knife. Muffins require a light hand, not only in mixing but also in measuring. You will be rewarded with light and luscious muffins.)
Whisk the eggs lightly with the now somewhat-cooled butter. Just be sure the butter is not too hot or it will scramble the eggs. Add the sour cream and whisk till no lumps remain. Add the milk, brandy, coffee powder, vanilla and molasses and whisk till well combined. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and whisk briefly and lightly to just barely combine. Do not worry about lumps or little pieces of flour. Whisk as little as possible. Now add the nuts and give one little whisk.
Measure 1/4 cup batter into muffin wells (less in mini-muffin tins). Batter should come almost to the top, but not over. Divide the remaining chocolate chips among the muffins, pressing lightly into the tops. Sprinkle muffins generously with the chocolate-cinnamon-sugar topping. Place muffins in oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 375 for dark or coated pans, and 400 for shiny pans. Standard muffins should take about 15-18 minutes; mini muffins should take 12-15 minutes. Test with toothpick for doneness -- when it returns clean or with just a few crumbs, take muffins out and let them cool in pans on counter for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, muffins should release easily and can be cooled completely on wire rack. Yield: 22-24 standard size muffins.