The other morning I woke up thinking about muffins. And experience has taught me if I’m thinking about muffins, I might as well bake a batch.
Some of my favorite muffin recipes are in a cookbook called James McNair ‘s Breakfast. Written about 20 years ago by a San Francisco-based food professional with ties to the South, the recipes stand the test of time. After all, how much can breakfast be affected by trends?
James McNair’s Breakfast includes several muffin recipes. I’ve made them all, and I honestly can’t pick a favorite. Flexibility is one of their strong points. The Fresh Apple Muffins may be made with pears instead. The Berry Muffins with nutmeg sugar (optional) call for cranberries or blueberries according to the season. Bran Muffins with raisins and Prune Muffins with an optional orange glaze pack a healthy dose of fiber.
For breakfast on the run, any of the above will make a healthful alternative to doughnuts. Ingredients include unbleached or whole wheat flour and low-fat buttermilk or vegetable oil. (Whoever said a muffin is just a cupcake without frosting never met these muffins!) If your family can’t/won’t take time to sit down for breakfast, pack a couple in a backpack or briefcase with a piece of fruit.
The recipe I’ve chosen to share with you is Spicy Cocoa Muffins. These are keepers in more ways than one. If the family doesn’t gobble them up in a few minutes, they’ll actually be better the next day. And the cocoa delivers a rich chocolate flavor without the fat of baking chocolate.
One final note about muffins: This is not rocket science. If a history of “sad” cakes has given you fear of flour, set your fear aside. Muffins may not be quite as easy as falling off a log, but the results are certainly a lot better.
Spicy Cocoa Muffins
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt ‘
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup low-fat buttermilk (see NOTE)
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter or vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in large bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk and melter butter or oil. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just enough to moisten. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips, if using. Spoon mixture into greased muffin pan, tilling 3/4 full.
Bake in 400-degree preheated oven about 15 minutes or until a wood skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan and cool briefly on wire rack.
Makes 12 muffins.
NOTE: If you don’t use much buttermilk, try SACO brand dry buttermilk. Follow instructions on package, adding it to the dry ingredients and water to the liquid ingredients.
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© 2006, 2014 Helen Austin. All rights reserved.