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Chocolate Muffins That Won’t Give a Muffin Top
Full of fiber and antioxidants, these double chocolaty treats are a guilt-free feel-good snack. In this recipe, Grace Dickinson serves up muffins that don’t even need icing.
Muffins are a delicious and easy on-the-go snack. However, the consumption of these tasty treats is not always the best treat for the body.
Without the cupcake-iced top, some assume muffins not only taste good, but are also a healthy choice. But a typical muffin sold in stores differs little from the average Tastykake or cupcake, filled with sugar, fat and empty calories. These portable treats can pack a meal’s worth of calories into just one hand-sized snack.
For instance, look at Sara Lee’s double chocolate chunk muffins, which contain 440 calories and a whopping 43 grams of sugar. Sara Lee’s blueberry muffins are not much better, packing 430 calories and 41 grams of sugar. Both contain a quarter or more of the recommended daily value of fat. Do not let healthy-sounding words like “bran” fool you either, because these muffins often contain just as much junk as their chocolaty counterparts. For example, Sara Lee’s bran muffins have 440 calories and 34 percent of the recommended daily value of fat.
Muffins do not have to be unhealthy to satisfy your taste buds, but finding one of these healthy and tasty muffins can be difficult. Your best bet is to create them yourself, and the following recipe aims to help you do just that.
The recipe uses oil and replaces the cholesterol-filled butter found in most muffins with a healthier, smaller portion of fat. The recipe also replaces some of the refined, empty-calorie white flour of nearly all store-bought muffins with whole-wheat pastry flour, which adds substantial fiber to the muffins. Fiber is the food component that makes us feel full and aids in lowering cholesterol.
While the chocolate element of these double chocolate muffins might not sound too healthy, studies have shown that moderate consumption of dark chocolate, the kind in this muffin recipe, can actually provide significant health benefits. Chocolate contains flavonoids, which act as antioxidants helping to protect the body from free radicals that can damage the cells and lead to heart disease and cancer. Numerous studies have shown that these properties give dark chocolate the ability to lower blood pressure.
And it could be the perfect recipe for exam time, as chocolate has also been shown to aid in lowering stress. A study done by the American Chemical Society found that eating an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day reduced levels of stress hormones in people feeling highly stressed.
The moderately lengthy list of ingredients may seem intimidating, but do not waste time worrying over these stress-releasing treats. The muffins are easy to make, and the results are worth the effort. The muffins freeze well too, so if you don’t have enough people to eat them or aren’t sure whether you can moderately limit your consumption of the dark chocolate treats, wrap the extras up in a Ziploc bag, and save them for later. When exams roll around, place one in the microwave for an irresistible, ready-made, no-stress snack.
Double Chocolate Muffins
(Makes 10 muffins)
– 1 cup white flour
– 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
– 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 3/4 cup brewed espresso
– 1/3 cup maple syrup
– 1/4 cup safflower oil
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 tablespoon vinegar
– heaping 1/2 cup + a few extra for topping, bittersweet chocolate chips
– butter (for greasing)
Preheat oven at 325 degrees. Use a paper towel to grease 10 cups of a muffin tin with a dab of butter. Place the first six ingredients into a large bowl, and whisk until thoroughly combined. In another bowl, whisk together espresso, maple syrup, vinegar and oil.
Make a small basin in the center of the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Continue to use the spatula to blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Make sure not to overwork the batter because this will cause the whole-wheat flour to make the muffins tough.
Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
Using a spoon, divide batter evenly into the 10 muffin cups. Top each muffin with 2 or 3 extra chocolate chips. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of center with just a few moist crumbs.
Use a knife to loosen the muffins from the pan. Cool on a wire rack.