Friday, February 19, 2016

A Superstar Muffin and Steampunk Shawlette

Ever since our trip to New Zealand my muffin expectations have been heightened.  Before that trip I had never been much of a fan because muffins here in the United States are typically puny, unexciting and heavy tasting, with very few exceptions.  But New Zealand opened my eyes to the potential for muffins.  Every coffee shop sold an amazing selection of wonderful looking jumbo muffins.  I remember how appealing they looked piled high in woven baskets in sumptuous sounding flavors like raspberry and chocolate, lemon and blueberry, and white chocolate with buttercream frosting to name just a few of the combinations that I recall.  I think I'll have to go back to New Zealand as I would like to refresh my memory on all the combinations. There's nice scenery too, if you care for that sort of thing. I'm just kidding, the scenery in New Zealand is incredible and you really should go and not just for the muffins.

After years of disappointment and grumbling about American muffins you can imagine my interest was peaked when I saw the Bake From Scratch magazine was featuring "Morning Muffins Reinvented."  Was this going to be the same old American muffin I wondered?  My first sampling was the Cinnamon Swirl Muffins with Pecan, and I loved them, but it was when I tried the Banana Chocolate Espresso Swirl Muffins that I knew that I had found that special muffin.  A Superstar Muffin!  One that could compete with muffins anywhere (even New Zealand)!  And fortunately for you when I reached out to Bake from Scratch they graciously gave me permission to share their recipe. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do and have fun baking them and sharing them with your friends!

Quickly, before I get to the recipe I want to give you my chocolate melting tip as you will be melting chocolate for this recipe.  Yep, it has melted chocolate in the batter.  Need I really say more about these muffins?

Tip for Melting Chocolate:

The recipe shared below gives the recommended and preferred method for melting chocolate which is to use a double boiler.  That method works great.  If you have the patience of a saint.  But I'm no saint.  So this is my quick and dirty method for melting chocolate.  To melt chocolate pour morsels into a micro-wave safe bowl and give it short zaps in the micro (10 to 15 seconds) stirring well after every zap as this helps the chocolate to melt evenly.  Once the chocolate gets to the stage where it's almost all melted set the bowl on the counter and allow the heat of the melting chocolate to finish the job.  Chocolate scorches easily so short zaps is the key.

Banana Chocolate Espresso Swirl Muffin Recipe

Shared courtesy of Bake From Scratch (recipe found in Winter 2016 issue).  For more baking inspiration follow them on Twitter and Instagram ~

Yield  8 jumbo muffins

1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
11/2 tablespoons (6 grams) espresso powder
2 cups (256 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (185 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
11/2 cups mashed banana
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (108 grams) vegetable oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* N.B.  I garnished mine with a few jumbo bittersweet chocolate chips sprinkled on top just before baking.  This is purely optional and my addition because, like Emeril Lagasse, I like that little extra bam to my baking.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 8 jumbo muffin cups with parchment or paper liners or coat well with cooking spray.

2.  In the top of a double boiler, melt chocolate with espresso powder.  Remove from heat, and let cool.  In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Make a well in the center of mixture.  In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed banana, eggs, oil, buttermilk, molasses, and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.  Spoon 11/2 cups (330 grams) batter into a separate bowl, and stir in chocolate-espresso mixture.

3.  Spoon banana batter into prepared muffin cups, filling two-thirds full.  Using the back of a spoon, make a shallow trench in the middle of each muffin cup.  Spoon in chocolate-espresso batter, and swirl with a wooden pick.  Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Vis-a-vis the chocolate chip garnish, without the chocolate chips they are perfect with a morning cup of coffee but if you like a sweet pick me up the added chocolate chips make this muffin a great midmorning snack.

Steampunk Shawlette ~

As a transitional piece to Spring this shawlette is just the thing.  Knit in a sport weight yarn it has more heft than most shawlettes and the best part is that it's a free pattern!  It has a steampunk vibe but you probably recognize it as the Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief  (designed by Orange Flower Yarn) as it has been hugely popular with online knitters.   My only "modification" if you will was to add a knit broach as it's really too small to tie effectively (I made the broach by knitting a simple flower and adding a silver button for the center.  A broach clasp is sewn to the back). Gifted to my sister who wears blue well and seemed very pleased with it.

I'm sad to report that this yarn is no longer available as La Lana Wools closed its doors with the death of its founder and inspiration, Luisa Gelenter.  This was a unique yarn company located in the American Southwest in the artsy community of Taos, New Mexico selling plant dyed yarns and custom proprietary patterns. Today there are a lot of beautiful yarns being hand dyed but this yarn was truly artisanal with each skein being unique, rustic and beautiful.  I knit this shawlette using the last of my stash so there will be no future projects using this yarn but I'm grateful that I have the La Lana wool creations that I have including my Sea foam Shawl, several scarves (gold) and (blue) and my Gaucho Vest.  La Lana Wools was a unique experience and the passing of its founder was a tremendous loss to the knitting community.

Until next time be well, love well and while it's still cold and wintery be sure to enjoy some rich and indulgent muffins..... like Banana Chocolate Espresso Swirl Muffins.... with your morning cup of coffee.


Unknown said...

Love, love, love your shawl!!!

kimmib said...

Love the receipe and shawl Claudia! Miss you and Simcha on Ravelery. Finnegan says Hey to Simcha.

Willow said...

Thanks for the link to the LaLana Wools article. The shawl is beautiful.
And now I'm trying hard to not want a chocolate muffin :)

Maryse said...

Those muffins are very appetizing!

Andi said...

Your shawl is beautiful!
Thank you for sharing the muffin recipe- I will be making it very soon.
The loss of an artist such as Luisa is huge. Thank you for linking the wonderful article.

Anonymous said...

So the Luis Gelenter died...that explains a lot. Those muffins have everything I love in them. Especially the espresso. I will have to give them a try. So satisfying to see such a beautiful close-up of The Age of Brass and Steam. Many thanks. Chloe

Kate said...

The little flower is the perfect touch on your shawl, Claudia. And the muffins! That's the same way I melt chocolate. I'll have to see how they compare to the NZ lemon muffins you linked to a few years ago. I just so happen to have a banana waiting for a batter. The lemon muffins are my go-to favorite muffin base. How's my favorite King of the Mountain?