Monday, May 23, 2011

A Week of Muffins: Chocolate-Pomegranate Muffins

This week, my blog's going to be a little bit different. My family and I are traveling to Orlando, Florida to visit Universal Studios, and then Disney World, and we'll be gone 9 days. Initially, I was considering just skipping the idea of doing blog posts at all for the duration of my vacation. After all, what's the point of being on vacation if you're still cranking out 3 or 4 blog posts while you're away? But then I had this brainstorm, and it worked out really well.

In the May 2011 issue of Cooking Light, I found a section on muffins. I love muffins, and I make them quite frequently. Imagine my delight when I was given 5 new muffin recipes in the latest issue of my mag! I couldn't decide which ones I wanted to try; they all sounded so good, and so different from one another. Finally, I took this as a sign that the stars were to align with both these muffins and with my vacation. I decided to bake all 5 of the muffins, and then I could make my vacation week Muffin Week! I just wrote all the blog posts ahead of time, and now I'll be able to publish each one gradually as the week unfolds. And you, as the reader, gets the 5 new muffin recipes, too!

First up: these Chocolate-Pomegranate Muffins. I decided to alter the Cooking Light recipe in a few different ways. It's a fantastic base recipe to play with; feel free to be creative in your version, too. The original recipe called for warm water for most of the liquid in the batter, and then a big handful of mini chocolate chips. Half the chips went into the batter, and the rest were sprinkled on top.

For my variation, I substituted coffee for the half of the water in the batter. I wanted a nice, kicky punch to my muffins. Honestly, I think I could have subbed coffee for all the water, since I did not actually taste coffee in the finished product. I do like to think that it gave the muffins a more intense chocolate flavor, though. As for the mini chips, they still adorned the tops of my muffins. But for inside the batter, I decided to throw in some chocolate covered pomegranate seeds I recently found at Trader Joe's. I loved them in there; they added a bit of fruit, as well as a nice little tangy bite every so often. I'd highly recommend trying to get your hands on some of these, but if you can't find them any dried fruit would be nice in there. Chocolate and fruit for breakfast? What's not to love?

Chocolate-Pomegranate Muffins
adapted from Cooking Light
makes 12 muffins

7.9 oz. all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup warm brewed coffee
1/2 cup warm water (you can use 1 cup coffee and omit the water, too)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chocolate covered pomegranate seeds (or just use dried pomegranate seeds)
1/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
Nonstick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.

2. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Combine the coffee, water, and the next 4 ingredients (through egg) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in the chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. Add the oil mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

3. Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups, and coat liners with cooking spray (I coated my muffin tins with cooking spray, omitted the papers, and I was fine). Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup mini chips evenly over the batter.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack before turning them out onto the rack to cool completely.

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