healthier chocolate muffins

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Today I woke up with a craving for chocolate.  I know, shocking.  But instead of grabbing a cupcake from the refrigerator (there are ALWAYS cupcakes in the fridge), I decided to make some muffins.  I wanted it to be healthy-ish, but I also didn’t want something too dense or packed with oats or wheat germ.  A few simple substitutions later, and I was left with a one bowl, no butter, no granulated sugar recipe that was quick and delicious.  The muffins were moist and soft, with a crispy muffin top, just like it’s supposed to be.  I added some mini chocolate chips because there’s nothing better than a warm muffin and those melted pieces of chocolate in each bite, but you can certainly leave them out to make them even healthier.

I’m now writing this post outside on my deck on a beautiful sunny morning, on the unofficial start of the summer.  I’ve got my dog laying down next to me, a warm muffin to my left, and a small cup of iced coffee to my right.  What more could you want?!

Healthier Chocolate Muffins
(Makes 6 jumbo muffins)

1/2 cup maple syrup
3/8 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup vanilla (or plain) yogurt
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3/8 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp espresso (or strongly brewed) coffee
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (plus more to top each muffin)

Preheat over to 375F.  Line a standard jumbo muffin pan with liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, coconut oil, yogurt, vanilla extract, egg, milk, and coffee.  Once combined, add the baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.  Whisk until combined.  Add the flour and whisk until combined again.  With a spatula, fold in mini chocolate chips.

Fill each muffin liner almost to the top, a little more than 2/3 full.  You want the muffins to rise enough so that they develop that “muffin top” shape.  Top each muffin with a few (or ten if you’re like me) mini chocolate chips.  Bake for 20-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

– bake on,
Sharon

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homemade peanut butter cups

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A couple weekends ago, my amazing mom surprised me with the cutest little gift from Le Creuset.  It was these mini heart-shaped silicone baking cups.  I knew I had to use them immediately, and for some reason, I instantly thought of using them to make peanut butter cups.  I thought the size would be perfect, not to mention I knew the silicone material would lend perfectly to removing them from the cups once they were completed and ready to be eaten.  Plus, I’ve always loved the store-bought peanut butter cups, but I couldn’t help but think that I could recreate them on my own, and with a lot less (bad) ingredients than what the store-bought kind has.

So this weekend, I played around with a few different ingredients and in no time, I ended up with the perfect peanut butter cups.  In a few simple steps and with a little patience, I had a giant batch of these ready to be eaten.  Complete with a smooth creamy peanut butter center that melts in your mouth.  Coated in a hard milk chocolate outer shell that sweetens it all up.  And so itty bitty that there’s zero shame in popping these like they’re M&Ms.   I couldn’t help and sneak one as dessert after every. single. meal.

Peanut Butter Cups
(Makes 24 candy cups)

2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

In a double boiler (my personal preference), or in the microwave in 30-second increments, melt the chocolate.  Using a small pastry brush, brush a thin even coating on the inside of each candy cup, being sure not to leave any paper exposed on the inside.  Freeze for 10 minutes.

While the cups are in the freezer, prepare the filling; in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the confectioners sugar, peanut butter, and butter until smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a large opening (about 1/2″ diameter).  Pipe the mixture into the frozen cups to about 1/8″ from the top.  Smooth with an icing spatula.

Transfer the remaining melted chocolate to another piping bag with a small opening (about 1/4″ diameter).  Pipe the chocolate onto the tops of the cups to the rim.  Smooth with another icing spatula and return to the freezer for another 10 minutes.

Once completely frozen, remove the paper cups from each peanut butter cup.  The colder the cups are, the easier (and less messy!) it will be to remove the paper.  Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.

– chocolate on,
Sharon

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homemade rice krispies treats

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K and I are big snackers.  Always have been, and always will be.  If I had my way, I’d snack on chocolate all day, but for some strange reason, I’ve been told “that’s not healthy, Sharon.”  Whatever.  So when I get a craving during the day and I’m just not feeling the healthier option of fruit, vegetables, or some hummus, I go for these homemade rice krispies treats.  They’re fun, sweet, and the perfect little mid-day snack.

Oh!  And did I mention these are so easy to make?!  Just 3 ingredients (rice krispies cereal, butter, and marshmallows) and no baking necessary!  I personally always have rice krispies cereal in the house, and butter, well yeah, there’s always butter here.  So that just leaves marshmallows, which as you’ve seen by my other post, is now a staple in this household!

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Rice Krispies Treats
(Makes one 9×13″ pan, or about 12 “treats”)

3 tbsp butter
6 cups rice krispies cereal
4 cups mini marshmallows

Coat a 9×13″ pan with butter or cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.  Once the butter has melted, add the marshmallows and allow to fully melt.  Remove from the heat and add the cereal.  Stir well and pour into the prepared pan.  Spread the mixture evenly across the entire pan, and allow to let cool for a couple hours.  Cut into small squares and serve immediately.

– snack on,
Sharon

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