The secret to a great chocolate muffin? Buttermilk
Bigger is better when it comes to these light and fluffy treats
Rich chocolate muffins. Photograph: Harry Weir
There are only so many chocolate eggs that can be eaten in one weekend. By now, surplus Easter eggs are undoubtedly stashed on high shelves, under cover and even in the garden shed. My husband is bemused when I desperately point to a lack of ingenuity in his choice of hiding places (he is fortunate to possess self-restraint).
This recipe provides an alternative use for leftover chocolate. You can even create a mix of white, milk and dark chocolate for a triple chocolate muffin.
There is something moreish and tempting about big, fat, bakery-style chocolate muffins. The dark chocolate crust and promise of a soft and fluffy interior make them irresistible to chocoholics.
Many people ask what the secret is to a good muffin. They shouldn’t be too cakey in texture – and they don’t have to be overly sweet either. There are a few pointers to achieving ultimate muffin success. Once those are learned, you’ll be whipping up batches of tempting muffins at the drop of a hat.
Muffin mixtures combine dry ingredients with a wet mixture. Wet ingredients might include milk, buttermilk, fruit juice, oil or melted butter. While convenience and health might dictate which ingredient you prefer to use, choosing the best combination of ingredients is important, to get the consistency just right.
Buttermilk is my first choice to use with dense and often bitter chocolate as it helps to give a deliciously moist texture. Another secret to light and fluffy muffins is only scant mixing. Keep this in mind when you stir the wet and dry ingredients together – and only combine them just before baking.
Choose the best paper cases you can find. Many standard size paper muffin cases tend to be unwaxed, which can result in the muffins sticking. Of course, you could just grease a muffin tin and lift the baked muffins out with a knife. But for tall muffins, I always buy large muffin cases which fit nicely in the deep muffin baking trays. My favourite style is that of the tulip paper wrappers, pictured here.
Muffins are best eaten on the day they are baked. To keep them fresh for longer, store them at room temperature in an airtight container, lined with a sheet of kitchen paper. They can be frozen for up to two months.
CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS
250g plain flour
2tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (good quality)
2tsp baking powder
½tsp bread soda
150g dark chocolate chips (or roughly chopped chocolate)
100g caster sugar
100g unscented sunflower oil
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan, or equivalent. Line a 12-cup muffin tray with the paper cases.
In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bread soda and salt.
Add the chopped chocolate.
In a separate bowl or jug, lightly whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, sugar and oil until combined.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring gently until just combined (do not over mix).
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cases, filling them to two-thirds full.
Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch (the chocolate chips will turn molten while cooking, so expect some lovely gooey chocolate to stay on any skewer, if inserted to test doneness).
Allow to cool in the tin for five minutes. Transfer the muffins from the muffin tray to a wire rack and allow them to cool for an additional 15 minutes. Serve in their paper cases.
You can use milk instead of buttermilk, but the muffins will be less moist.