Double Chocolate Chili Muffins

On the weekends, Jonty is my resident muffin-man. It’s his one baking luxury of the week – he loves to bake them, and I love to eat them, so it’s a win-win situation, really. Around mid-week, he asks if I have any requests; often, it’s a slight modification to the previous weeks muffins. For the past month or so, he’s been making tweaks to these double chocolate chili muffins, and I think he’s mastered them! They’ve got a sky-high muffin top, are studded with big chocolate chunks, and have the perfect warming heat at the end of your bite.

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Now, before we scare you off with the name, just know that these chocolate chili muffins can be made to tailor to your spice tolerance completely.

  1. If you really like chocolate and love a bit of kick to your food: Follow the recipe as stated.
  2. If you really like chocolate but have uber-sensitive taste buds: Leave out the chilis completely.
  3. If you really like chocolate, but you’re not sure how awesome the chocolate + chili combo is: Start with fewer chilies, one say.

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What I love about these muffins is that you just taste a simple chocolate muffin in your first bite. Maybe you’ve hit a jack-pot chocolate chunk, and you’re in chocolate heaven. Then you wonder what that other subtle flavour is? So you have another bite, then you get a lovely warmth on the back of your tongue – that’s the little chili kick at the end. It’s really a great combination of flavours!

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Jonty still follows his basic muffin ratio quantity and I think this is a great base for any chocolate chunk muffin:

1 part egg : 1 part sugar : 2 parts liquid : 2 parts flour : 1 part butter : 1 part add-ins

For anyone not aware of how these ratios work, we’ve talked about it before (here and here and here), but essentially it really makes for an easy way to bake and to scale recipes. The only caveat is, you need a kitchen scale. And if you don’t have one already, and love to bake, you really should invest in one! You can pick up a decent one for less than $25.

The ratio recipes will usually start with the weight of a large egg, which will be around 50 g. For this recipe, we’re using 2 eggs, which usually comes out to 100 g. All the other ingredients scale from there.

So for 100 g of eggs, you’ll need 100 g of sugar, 200 g of milk, 200 g of flour… You’re catching my drift? It’s math, but it’s easy math. Honest!

It doesn’t take long to figure out how awesome it is to bake from a recipe using weight measurements versus measuring cups. In most cases, you only need one bowl – and when you don’t have a dishwasher, less time in the sink is always a good thing. The other benefit to baking with ratios is that it makes for scaling recipes up or down, a breeze!

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So, if you don’t have one, go out and purchase your first kitchen scale, then make these muffins as a reward for being such a smart baker.

From taste-testing experience, these muffins are fantastic with your morning/afternoon coffee or tea and taste excellent on their or with a dollop of raspberry jam 🙂

Double Chocolate Chili Muffins
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 100 g (2 large) eggs
  • 200 g milk
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 150 g cake and pastry flour
  • 50 g dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 100 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 100 g (1 medium) ripe banana
  • 2 - 3 red thai chilis, chopped (optional, depending on heat sensitivity)
  • 100 g dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 7 g baking powder
  • 7 g baking soda
  • chopped walnuts, for the topping (optional)
Instructions
  1. Measure out all your ingredients before-hand. Melt the butter and leave it to cool slightly.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. In a large bowl, or stand-mixer bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until frothy. Add in the sugar and vanilla and whisk on high speed, until the mixture is foamy, about 1 minute.
  4. While the mixer is running, slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until just combined. Scrape down the sides, as needed.
  5. Add the melted butter and whisk on high speed until completely incorporated. When fully incorporated, the mixture should look very fluffy and almost like a well-aerated cake batter. This should take about a minute on high speed.
  6. Add the ripe banana and whisk on high speed until combined. Finally, add the chilis and chocolate chunks and stir to incorporate.
  7. Place the batter in the fridge overnight to bake in the morning. If you want to bake these right away, still place the batter in the fridge while the oven is pre-heating.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and line a standard muffin tin with 6 muffin cups. Equally divide the batter into the 6 muffin cups. You want to aim to over-fill the cups. It's okay - they won't spill over too much! If desired, sprinkle the tops with chopped walnuts.
  9. Bake at 400 F for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 F and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The muffins are done when a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre.
  10. As soon as the muffins come out of the oven, run a knife between the top of the tray and the base of the muffin top, to prevent them from sticking when you remove them from the pan. Leave the muffins to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

 Enjoy these Double Chocolate Chili Muffins!

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Easy, No-Knead Ciabatta Buns

I believe everyone should have one bread recipe in their back pocket that is fool-proof. And by fool-proof, I mean it would require deliberate sabotage to go wrong! Some types of bread rely on practice and experience, so you know what the dough should feel like, and how to make it work in your climate (I still have my share of misfit loaves). This Ciabatta recipe is not that type of bread and I’m quite confident that anyone can make this bread. You need a bowl and a spoon and you’re good to go. Seriously.

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I’ve made Ciabatta buns the fancy-pants way. As in, there’s some folding and resting and shaping and creating a steam-oven and, in general, a bit of time and effort.

And then I’ve made these Ciabatta buns the easy way i.e. with a bowl and a spoon and that’s about it.

And you know what? Neither Jonty nor I can tell the difference! The fancy-pants buns taste the same as the unbelievably-low-maintenance buns!

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Back in June, we stopped at Belgarde Kitchen after a day of climbing, to celebrate Jonty’s birthday. We went in for a late lunch, and I had the most fantastic breakfast sandwich, with this portobello patty on a soft ciabatta bun. That day, I vowed to recreate that burger. Actually, it’s not the first time I’ve tried to recreate one of the Belgarde items! (And it’s one recipe we keep in constant rotation!)

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It was around two months after that birthday visit, before I even thought about giving this recipe a whirl. Since then, I’ve made the buns 3 or 4 times. It’s a smaller-batch recipe, which is always nice for a household of two, but even better is that these buns freeze really well.

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Have you ever heard of Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread? You basically stir together some water, flour, yeast and salt and leave it sit on the counter overnight. The original concept recipe forms a really wet dough, which is why you can just stir it together. In this recipe, I’ve sort of combined a few different recipes and ideas (from Lahey’s and my Peter Reinhart cookbook and this Alexandra Cooks post) and come up with a Ciabatta bun recipe that really seems to work and taste good, with very little effort!

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A few things to keep in mind:

  • This dough needs to sit on the counter overnight, for 12 to 18 hours, so give it a good stir before you go to bed.
  • The dough will still be quite sticky the next morning. Do not fear, just make sure you use extra flour judiciously. Aim for at least 1/4 cup sprinkled on the counter and on the dough, while you’re cutting and shaping the buns.
  • To shape the dough, I find it easiest to cut it into 8 or 10 equal pieces and gently roll each piece completely in flour. Pat the dough into a rectangular shape, then fold the dough over on itself and place it, seam-side down, on a baking sheet. Because the dough is still quite soft and wobbly, you can’t shape it like my slider buns. Just fold and nudge, and they will be fine.
  • Use a parchment-lined baking tray, and don’t worry about creating a steam-bath in the oven. Maybe because of the extra liquid in the dough, the outsides will crisp up nicely, while still keeping a soft, chewy centre.

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That’s it! These buns bake at 425 F oven for about 20 minutes, and then you have wonderfully soft, yet chewy, Ciabatta buns to eat on their own, or made into your favourite sandwich.

Give them a try! Hopefully you will enjoy them as much as we do 🙂

Easy, No-Knead Ciabatta Buns
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Snacks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This easy, no-knead bread uses a modification of Artisan Breads Everyday and Alexandra Cooksrecipes.
Ingredients
  • 515 g (4 cups) bread flour (all-purpose flour will work, too)
  • 10 g (1¼ tsp) sea salt
  • ¼ tsp instant yeast
  • 2 cups cold tap-water
  • ¼ cup flour (for shaping the dough into buns)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir everything together until you have a shaggy dough, about 2 minutes.
  2. Cover with a cotton kitchen towel and leave on the counter top, at room temperature, for 12 to 18 hours.
  3. When ready to bake the next day, pre-heat the oven to 425 F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  4. Spread ¼ cup of flour on the counter top and tip out the dough onto the flour. Coat the dough thoroughly with the flour. The dough will still be quite wet, so use as much flour as necessary to avoid any sticking.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 to 10 pieces and roll each piece in flour.
  6. Gently shape each piece into a square or rectangular shape by folding the dough over onto itself. Place each piece on the parchment-lined tray. Leave a bit of space around each bun.
  7. Let the dough rise for about 20 minutes.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown.
  9. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Notes
These buns freeze very well. Just place into a freezer ziplock bag.

Enjoy!

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