Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fudgy Berry Chip Muffins, healthified

I had a serious craving for some chocolate muffins Thursday night, but didn't get around to making them until I had some time Saturday morning. This recipe is one I found on when I was a teenager around 12 years ago. Yes, I have been using the Internet to find recipes for a long time! It was the first time I had used applesauce in a baked goods recipe--and it did not disappoint. It makes theses muffins "fudgy" and moist. I have gone back to this recipe time and time again since my teenage baking days.

This time around, I decided to adapt the recipe for high altitude (because I live in Utah now, but obviously I didn't do that in Pennsylvania) and make absolutely certain I didn't over bake them. Also, I wanted to add a little more nutrition, so I substituted half wheat flour for the white flour. Finally, I wanted to add an additional dimension of a sweet, tart textured chew to these already perfect muffins, so I added mixed berries (from my freezer--Costco has the best blend--raspberries, blueberries, and marionberries! YUM!)

So satisfying! I ate two and was left wanting more, but after all they are "healthified," not necessarily "healthy," so I decided not to overindulge.

Here's the recipe with editorial notes and modifications in RED.

1/2 cup applesauce (that's one individual cup, if you buy the six pack version)
1/4 cup butter, softened (original recipe calls for margarine but I NEVER bake with margarine, ick.)
1/2 cup white sugar (minus 1 Tbsp, *high altitude variation)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (minus 1 Tbsp, *high altitude variation)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk (approximately, I used skim because that's what I had; it just needs a touch more moisture, *high altitude variation)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (today I used Hershey's special dark cocoa)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (1/4 teaspoon, *high altitude variation)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional-not optional, I add 1/4 teaspoon (not really measured) more; it's a perfect compliment to the chocolate and applesauce)
1 cup (-ish) semi-sweet chocolate chips (didn't measure and probably used a little less because of the added berries)
1 cup frozen mixed berry blend, no need to thaw
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar (optional--no, not optional; it dresses these muffins perfectly!)

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups
(foil works too).
2.In large mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and milk until well blended. (Works way better if all ingredients are room temperature.) Add applesauce, blend well.
3.In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and cinnamon, if desired. Add to butter mixture, blending well. Stir in chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter.
4.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 22 to 26 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean.
(Very important to pull them out as soon as the tops spring back and the toothpicks come out almost clean--careful not to confuse the batter with a chocolate chip--you don't want to dry these out.) Cool slightly in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle muffin tops with confectioners' sugar, if desired. Serve warm
with a cold glass of milk! And yes, they are delicious warm.

Sometimes I freeze these in a Ziploc freezer bag for a fresh chocolaty breakfast anytime I want. Otherwise, store in some Tupperware for snacking later on. Oh, and I usually store them in the fridge just so they keep fresher longer. And I kind of like them when the chocolate chips are hard again--I freeze cookies fresh out of the oven just to harden the chips again--is that weird?

And now here's a baker's tip:

I was very embarrassed to share this picture of the freshly baked Fudgy Berry Chip Muffins, healthified because look out disgusting my muffin pan is getting. By the way this is a Wilton pan and Cooks Illustrated rated it as the best and I have to agree. Anyway, I thoroughly scrub this pan (or wash in the dishwasher) after baking, but sometimes those brown sticky (usually from Pam spray, etc.) just won't scrub off. Well, want to know how to get it off?

Take a crumpled up piece of foil (homemade steel wool) and vigorously--and I mean put some elbow into it--scrub the pan. Then wash with a soapy sponge.

And voila, it really does work. As you can see, it does take some scrubbing and I probably could scrub just a little more on that right corner, but that really is the same pan! Not too shabby, eh?

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