Friday, October 5, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Muffins

     So what do you do when a bad dream awakens you at 5:30am and you have a bar of dark chocolate that's not very nice for eating on its own? Me...I bake. I've recently returned from a vacation in Spain and bought a bar of sugar-free dark chocolate to take home with me. Something about that chocolate made me put it down when I started eating it, and that doesn't happen very often. However, it wasn't so bad that it had to go in the bin right away. I decided I could use it for baking. However, if you are making this recipe at home, regular dark chocolate would be perfect.
     The Spanish seem to have some sort of love-affair with sugar-free chocolate. The most prominent Spanish chocolatier Valor sells sugar-free versions of many of its chocolate. Even Nestle, which doesn't make very nice chocolate in my opinion, rolls out its own sugar-free milk chocolate in Spain. 

Furthermore, the sugar-free chocolate is always kept on the supermarket shelves right next to the regular chocolates, not in a separate aisle or shelf for special dietary needs like in most other countries.

     So anyway, having been awoken from my sleep, I did a quick search for recipes. I knew I wanted to bake something that would use that sugar-free chocolate up and I knew I wanted to add oats in it too. I found recipes for oatmeal cakes, oatmeal cookies and the like. I didn't have butter on hand, so cookies were out of the question. I ended up basing my muffins on a  recipe for chocolate chip muffins which I tried a month ago. I adapted it to suit myself and it worked out well.

     The oatmeal gives the muffins a nice 'bite' and a crispy top. The addition of cinnamon complements the oatmeal nicely. On hindsight, some desiccated coconut would have given the muffins a more irresistible allure. In future, I will add 2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut to the batter. This is a simple recipe that is quick to make, especially if you use chocolate chips.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Muffins
makes 12 regular or 16 smaller muffins

175g plain flour
75g rolled oats
110g caster sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
85ml vegetable oil (1/3 cup plus 2 tsps)
180ml milk (approx 3/4 cup)
1 large egg
85g dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
(or semisweet chocolate chips)
2 TBSP desiccated coconut (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease the bottoms of 12 muffin cases.
2. Put all dry ingredients except chocolate & coconut in a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine.

3. In a smaller bowl, combine all the wet ingredients
4. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients
5. Whisk the batter till well-mixed

6. Finally, reserve a small handful of the chocolate then stir the remaining chocolate and coconut (if using) into the batter.

7. Fill each muffin case 2/3 full and scatter some chocolate chunks on the top.

8. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. 
Don't overbake or the muffins will become a little tough.


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