The day before we went up to the Grand Canyon, we volunteered at our downtown walk, Meet Me at Maynards. It’s a lot of fun, and we really like helping out, because it encourages people to get out and see downtown Tucson. When we volunteer, we like to bring just a little something for our fellow volunteers. We know we don’t have to, by any means, but we think it’s a nice thing to do, and it gets us to try new recipes.
Several months ago, we came up with the idea of making chocolate mini-muffins, just because we liked the sound of them, but, at nearly the last minute, we thought we’d jazz up the muffins and make them taste somewhat like Mexican Hot Chocolate. Now, we had no idea how to make either chocolate mini muffins, or Mexican hot chocolate, but that didn’t stop us. We simply found a recipe for Chocolate Muffins on the King Arthur Flour website, and added some spices into the mix.
Dutch processed cocoa is treated with alkali to make a darker, less bitter cocoa. We use it almost exclusively and we try to get the best, Valrhona. It’s expensive, but we get it in the 3 kg package, so the cost per use isn’t so bad. For the chocolate chips, you could use the Toll House brand; they’re pretty good. We use chocolate chips from Callabaut, because we think they’re better. For buttermilk, we always make our own. It’s easy; just see this post. But, you can always just use milk and 2 teaspoons vinegar, instead. Eggs are best if the hens are treated well, so get your eggs from someone who raises them. Vanilla extract is 100% real, of course,.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line mini-muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.
Whisk dry ingredients. In a large bowl — all the batter will end up in here — whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. If your brown sugar is like ours, you’ll have lumps of brown sugar that stick together. Break these up with your fingers to try to get as uniform a mixture as you can. Add the chocolate chips — it’s hard to whisk with them in there, as we discovered — and stir in.
Whisk liquid ingredients. In a smaller bowl, or a large measuring cup with a spout, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract. While whisking, pour in the melted butter and continue whisking until combined.
Mix batter. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir and fold, watching for dry ingredients on the bottom of the bowl, until just combined.
Transfer to piping bag and pipe. For mini-muffins, it’s easiest to pipe the batter, but you’ll need a big tip with those chocolate chips. We get around that by using disposable piping bags (a great time saver), and simply cutting off the tip to make about a 1/2 inch hole. Fill a piping bag with your batter and pipe each cup until it’s about half full. These muffins rise a lot, so half-filled is perfect.
Sprinkle. If you’re using sparkling sugar, now’s the time to sprinkle it onto the muffins. You know how much you like, so go for it.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake 15-18 minutes, rotating front to back and top to bottom halfway through, or until a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Cool. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove the mini-muffins to a baking rack to cool completely.
This are really good muffins. We like the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg; it does make them taste more interesting. Not just chocolate, but tastier. We also like the chocolate chips in the mix, as they harden once cool, making a nice textural contrast as you eat them. You think you might be getting a nut, but, instead, it’s a bit of chocolate. As with most muffins, these are super- simple to make, so 5 stars.