Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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Here’s an ingenious way to sneak green into your child’s diet. With this muffin, you can give your child cocoa with a clear conscience.

The combination of grated zucchini and chocolate is a God-send because the zucchini, which adds moisture, is a vegetable that passes virtually undetected. Whether you refer to this muffin as “chocolate” or “chocolate zucchini,” the flavor speaks for itself.

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (makes 30)

3 eggs
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (for nice, dark finished color)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups zucchini, grated
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
brown sugar (for sprinkling on top)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pans with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Beat in the sugar and oil. Add the applesauce, cocoa, vanilla, zucchini and stir well.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mixing until dry ingredients are just moist. Fold in 2/4 of the chocolate chips.
5. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, filling each muffin cup about 2/3 full.
6. Top with 1/4 mini chocolate chips and some brown sugar.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
8. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

 

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Chocolate Ricotta Muffins

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These muffins are packed with protein and taste like smooth, creamy, cheesecake. Serve for breakfast, dessert, or after-school snack. My kids love the rich chocolate flavor, and I love the wholesomeness of the ricotta and milk.

Note: For best results, use whole milk ricotta, but lowfat also works well. You can substitute canola oil for some or all of the butter.

Chocolate Ricotta Muffins (makes 18)

1 cup ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled OR 1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pans with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk ricotta cheese and then add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk, vanilla extract, and cooled and melted butter, mixing well. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.
4. Add the ricotta mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined and then fold in chocolate chips. (Do not over mix this batter or the muffins will be tough when baked.)
5. Divide the batter amongst the 18 muffin cups using two spoons or an ice cream scoop.
6. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
7. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

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Mint-Filled Brownie Muffins

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This fudgy muffin hides a bright minty surprise. One bite into the warm chocolate reveals the chilly taste of cool, creamy mint.

This quick and easy recipe requires the use of only one bowl, and you may already have the ingredients in your kitchen pantry.

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Mint-Filled Brownie Muffins (makes 12)

1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
3 eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
12 (1 ½-inch) chocolate-covered peppermint patties

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Put chocolate chips and butter in a heatproof medium mixing bowl and microwave, just until melted, in 30 second intervals.
3. Whisk in sugar and salt until mixture is smooth.
4. Whisk in eggs.
5. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa until smooth (do not overmix).
6. Fill each muffin cup with batter to ¼ full. Place one peppermint patty on top of each muffin and gently press it into batter. Distribute the remaining batter on top of each muffin cup.
7. Bake for 30-33 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
8. Transfer muffin pan to a cooling wire rack to cool completely before removing muffins.

*Notes:
Muffins can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers.

Flourless Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

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For my readers who have requested gluten-free recipes, I consider it my duty to muffinize™ the crumbly, dry baked goods they are generally stuck with.

Moist, rich, and decadent, these muffins satisfy the chocolate-peanut butter craving. The recipe is dairy-free, oil-free, and contains no refined sugar. So how could the muffins be good? Believe.

With the help of a blender, the batter is transformed in minutes. No gluten means no risk of over-mixing the batter, which could create tough muffins.

Thanks to the banana and honey, the taste is sweet but not too sweet, the texture fudgy but still cakey and springy like muffins. The peanut butter is there, but does not overwhelm. The chocolate flavor is enhanced by the ever-presence of mini chips.

These muffins are a wonderful way to justify having chocolate for breakfast.

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Flourless Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins (makes 6)

1 medium/large ripe banana, peeled
1 large egg
heaping ½ cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3 tablespoons honey (agave, brown rice syrup, or maple syrup may be substituted)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
heaping 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (for sprinkling)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. To the canister of a blender, add banana, egg, peanut butter, cocoa powder, honey, vanilla extract, baking soda, and salt. Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
3. Transfer batter to a mixing bowl. Fold in heaping 1/2 cup chocolate chips and stir.
4. Use an ice cream scoop to distribute batter into muffin cups to ¾ full.
5. Sprinkle each muffin with a generous pinch of chocolate chips.
6. Bake for 13 to 18 minutes*, or until the tops are set, domed, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
7. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 10 minutes until they’ve set.**

*Watch muffins closely and bake until done.
**These muffins will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

 

 

If You Give Your Love a Muffin

This article was featured in Real Woman on February 12, 2015.

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The idea of Valentine’s Day makes me blanch. We all love love, but some of us are perplexed by the popularity of a national holiday that leaves singles bitter, promotes the exchange of tacky gifts, and encourages children to trade “statements of love.” I, for one, resent the pressure on couples, young and old, to indulge in prix fixe meals that they would not otherwise stomach.

I feel so strongly about it that when my older son was 3, I took a stand. His preschool teachers told parents to pack a dozen personalized valentines to give out on the Day of Love. Like most 3-year-olds, my child could not yet write his name, so the task was clearly intended for the parents to transliterate scribbles on cards.

I did not enjoy the homework assignment, nor did I appreciate the expectation placed on my preschooler to send so-called-love-notes to children who could not yet read.

So I complained.

The director of the preschool rescinded the “assignment,” and the mothers went wild with disapproval. The Chicago moms had no clue that I was the culprit (until now).

Regardless of that year’s freedom from insincere Hallmark greetings, I’m still baffled by how second nature it is for today’s youth to swap cheesy Sponge Bob and Spider-Man valentines and for grown men to scurry off to grab the remnants of red roses at the grocery store. I do wonder what I’m missing.

But since it feels cynical to shut out the best thing we humans do on Earth (love), I share this recipe, for Valentine’s Day, straight from my heart.

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Cream Cheese Chocolate Muffins (makes 18)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Filling
1 cup (8oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips (or 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup peanut butter chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups with cooking spray, or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well.
3. For the filling: In a separate mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt, and chocolate chips. Mix well.
4. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon batter into muffin cups until half full.
5. Top each muffin cup with 2 Tbsp of filling.
6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
7. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to place on a wire cooling rack.

* Pair these muffins with a bottle of wine for a true Valentine’s Day

 

 

 

Cream Cheese Chocolate Muffins

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Rich, creamy, and decadent, these muffins look heavenly and make a perfect dinner party dessert. The chocolate is fudgy and rich. The cream cheese filling makes a creamy, chewy kind of sink-hole for the crunchy chocolate chips.

Chances are you may already have the ingredients for this recipe, which is easy to whip up last minute and only requires two mixing bowls. These are impressive for a bake sale, charity, or dinner party.

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Cream Cheese Chocolate Muffins (makes 18)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Filling

1 cup (8oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips (or 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup peanut butter chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups with cooking spray, or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well.
3. For the Filling: In a separate mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt, and chocolate chips. Mix well.
4. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon batter into muffin cups until half full.
5. Top each muffin cup with 2 Tbsp of Filling.
6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
7. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to place on a wire cooling rack.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

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OK gluten-free lovers, here’s to satisfying your sweet tooth!

These are the fluffiest, most moist baked products on the global gluten-free menu. The texture is reminiscent of peanut butter fudge. They are more cakey than the usual muffin. The peanut butter does not overwhelm, and the banana flavor is barely detected, albeit the riper the banana the sweeter the muffin. The melty chocolate chips complement the peanut butter in every bite.

Let’s talk all the things these muffins are not. They are gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free, dairy-free, oil-free, and refined sugar-free. So how could they be good?

Trust, but verify.

With the help of a blender, the batter is transformed in minutes into the best excuse for eating chocolate for breakfast.

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Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins (makes 12)

2 medium ripe bananas, peeled
2 large eggs
1 heaping cup creamy peanut butter
6 Tbsp honey (or agave or maple syrup)
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 heaping cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (for sprinkling)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. To the canister of a blender, add bananas, eggs, peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract, baking soda, and salt. Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
3. Transfer batter to a mixing bowl. Fold in heaping cup of chocolate chips and stir.
4. Use an ice cream scoop to distribute batter into muffin cups to ¾ full.
5. Sprinkle each muffin cup with mini chocolate chips.
6. Bake for 13 to 18 minutes*, or until the tops are set, domed, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
7. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 10 minutes until they’ve set.**

*Watch muffins closely and bake until done.
**These muffins will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.