Almost every restaurant dessert menu boasts a chocolate-themed dessert, with a title that usually contains the words "triple", "decadent", or "mudslide". To many, there is no such thing as too much chocolate. To me, that is not the case. Don't get me wrong. I mean, I do like my chocolate, just in smaller or more subtle formats than "Decadent Triple Chocolate Mudslide Cake with Fudgy Fudge Sauce and Chocolate Shavings". In my opinion, a small piece of a high-quality 78% bittersweet chocolate or a rich chocolate sorbet is so much better, and you don't feel ill from extreme amounts of consumed sugar afterward.
One way to incorporate chocolate flavor into your baking without too much sweetness is by using a good quality dark cocoa powder in place of melted chocolate. Another ingredient that I have found to complement the chocolate flavor and to give it more depth is espresso powder. By studding the batter of what you are making with miniature chocolate chips, you still get that occasional nugget of solid chocolate flavor without overdoing it. These Mocha-Chip Pecan Muffins incorporate all three of the above techniques to create a not-too-sweet treat that satisfies any mid-day chocolate craving--no Fudgy Fudge sauce needed. Here are just a few tips for making these mocha-flavored muffins:
- Use either full-fat or low-fat plain yogurt for this recipe. Using non-fat yogurt will result in a drier muffin.
- Substitute almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts for the pecans.
- If you like a sprinkle of cinnamon on your morning mocha, then add ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the flour mixture.
- If your regular grocery store doesn't carry it, then espresso powder can usually be found in specialty foods stores or on-line at the King Arthur Flour website.
Mocha-Chip Pecan Muffins
Makes 12 large muffins
2 cups flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup safflower, sunflower, or canola oil
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon espresso powder dissolved in ½ cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup miniature chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners or spray with nonstick baking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, butter, eggs, yogurt, espresso mixture, and vanilla. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Fold in the pecans and the chocolate chips.
Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups. The cups will be very full. Bake the muffins for 25 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of one muffin emerges clean. Cool completely in the pan.
Ooh, these muffins sound spectacularly delicious! I'm a huge fan of mochas--in a mug or in my muffins. And these muffins look like they have a nice balance between ingredients with some nutritional "oomph" (such as yogurt, eggs, whole wheat flour, and nuts) and sweet-tooth satisfaction.
I agree with your take on over-the-top chocolate desserts: they are nice every once in a while, but my everyday chocolate needs are better satisfied with something a little more homey and humble, like a square of chocolate or a muffin.