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.