Friday, September 14, 2012

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins...with secret ingedients!

* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 1/2 cup cocoa powder, dutch process if possible
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 1 stick of butter, room temperature (1/2 cup)
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 1 tsp espresso instant coffee granules
* 3 large eggs
* 2 cups unpeeled grated zucchini
* 1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease your muffin pans.  This recipe will make between 16-20 muffins.
2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the first five ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt).  Set aside one cup of this flour mixture, and leave the rest in the bowl.
3. With a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Once light and fluffy, add in the vanilla, espresso, and eggs, mixing well at each addition.
4.  Add the flour mixture to the batter.  Mix until combined.  The batter will be very thick - so don't be woried.
5. Place the chocolate chips and zucchini in a bowl; toss the reserved cup of flour mixture to the zucchini and chocolate chips.  Fold this into the muffin batter, but don't over mix.
6. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full.  You will fill between 16-20 cups.  Bake for between 15-17 minutes.  When you test the muffins for "done-ness", keep in mind there are chocolate chips in them, so if you see chocolate on your tester, don't assume the muffins need to continue cooking.  You don't want to overcook these as they may dry out.
7.  These are best enjoyed warm, but will hold up for a few days in an airtight container.  If you want to turn these into cupcakes, just add frosting!

After your butter has softened and you've added it to the mixing bowl, use the wrapper to grease your muffin tins!  This is a great trick; you don't need to use spray, and you don't waste anything.  I have found there is enough butter left on the wrapper to grease two muffin trays.  And, for the future, when you use a stick of butter but don't need to grease a pan, you can freeze the wrapper flat, and take it out of the freezer when you do need to grease a pan!  Just take it out a few minutes before you need to use it so that it can warm up and be pliable.

Also, here are a couple of thoughts about the ingredients.  I always advocate the use of dutch process cocoa when a recipe calls for cocoa powder.  I have found the deepest chocolate flavor to be with Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder.  This can be hard to find (there is actually only one grocery store around me that carries it), so when I need to buy it, I usually buy 2 to keep on hand.  And as a non-coffee drinker, you might imagine my suspicion when a recipe calls for coffee or espresso powder and claims the coffee taste will be unnoticeable.  However, I am now a believer.  The espresso powder enhances the chocolate flavor.  If you don't have any on hand, you don't have to go and buy some, just omit it from the recipe.  But, if you live close to me, call me up and I will happily lend you a teaspoon or two!  I have a few chocolate recipes that call for it which is why it is in my pantry.

We made these twice this week. The first time I shredded the zucchini in my food processor, and baked them for 20 minutes.  The kids loved the flavor, but I found the 20 minutes to be too long and they seemed a little dry.  The second time I made them, I grated the zucchini with my box grater and baked them for 16 minutes.  The zucchini melted into the batter and seemingly disappeared, and the bake time seemed better.  They were cooked but not over-baked.  I thought they were clearly moister the second time I made them.  I think that was due not only to grating the zucchini but also because of the shortened baking time.

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