Ah, chocolate. You really are a celebrity at this time of year, aren’t you? No need to be humble, you know it’s true.
Something just feels right about enjoying chocolate when there’s a chill in the air.
Something just feels right about enjoying chocolate when you’re surrounded by friends and family with whom you can share.
Something just feels right about enjoying chocolate when you can simply promise to work it off in the New Year.
I especially like chocolate when it’s flavoring a delectable bread or cake, which should then be topped with some sort of creamy frosting, preferably also favored with chocolate.
So, you know, these Chocolate Spice Muffins are pretty much made for me. What a coincidence!
I will also share with you a bizarre sensibility that I have developed over my baking years: I have this idea that muffins should not have a muffin top, but cupcakes should.
Odd, I know.
I just think that cupcakes, being a dessert item, should be large and slightly oversized, giving the impression of luscious plenty. Muffins, on the other hand, are generally consumed as a breakfast item so they should be reasonably-sized and judiciously-shaped.
I don’t expect this bit of idiosyncratic weirdness to catch on – I’m not looking to open up my latest copy of In Touch and read about Joan Rivers critiquing some young starlet’s ‘cupcake top’. But I will continue to build my muffins and cupcakes accordingly.
You’ve been warned.
Now go make yourself some sensible-looking Chocolate Spice Muffins and enjoy this season of chocolate plenty.
Chocolate Spice Muffins
Chef’s Note: The frosting with which these cupcakes are topped has the consistency of pudding – if you can prepare a batch of it without scooping a fair amount directly into your mouth, you are a better person than I. As a result, I prepared a double batch of frosting and applied it quite generously to the muffins. You could easily get away with halving the frosting recipe and simply topping each muffin with a little less (you will, of course, also need to keep from spooning the frosting directly into your mouth).
For the muffins:
2 c. white sugar, granulated
1 c. vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. cocoa, unsweetened, such as Hershey’s brand
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. canela, ground (ground cinnamon may be substituted)
1 tsp. ancho chile, ground
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. whole milk
For the frosting:
2 c. cocoa, unsweetened, such as Hershey’s brand
2 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 c. whole milk
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cream the sugar and oil together in a large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, beating until incorporated.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, canela, ancho chile and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed sugar mixture, alternating with the milk, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary and beating until just incorporated.
Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spoon or scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin – if you want to roll like me and keep your muffins shapely, you can use a two-tablespoon sized scoop here, which has the added advantage of keeping your muffins nice and uniform.
Bake the muffins for 22-24 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Take care not to overbake these muffins. Allow muffins to cool slightly before unmolding.
Meanwhile, whisk the ingredients for the frosting together until smooth. Once muffins are cooled and unmolded, top generously with frosting and serve.
YIELD: approximately 26-28 muffins