Chocolate chunk muffins (and a blueberry version, too)

I know that none of us who like to bake need a reason to try a muffin recipe.  Muffins and cookies are just fun to make, and too easy to eat!  So this is the latest muffin recipe I tried: chocolate chunk muffins from the Huckleberry cookbook.
I've never been to Huckleberry Bakery in Santa Monica but I sure would love to.  I was captivated by the beauty of their cookbook, and the food described in the pages. As expected, I gravitate towards simple recipes and chocolate chunk muffins...well, I can make and eat that any day, any time.  

Here's the thing: my chocolate chunk muffins looked nothing like the ones in the cookbook.  They didn't puff, dome, or crack open like I expected from looking at the photo in the book.  I know there are many possibilities for this - from differences in oven types to technique - but while I was disappointed at first, the taste more than made up for it.
These muffins/cupcakes have a wonderfully moist and tender texture - the kind that stays that way for days.  I'll give credit to yogurt and a bit of ground almonds for that. Baked goods made with yogurt don't ever seem to disappoint; it makes for a hefty muffin in the best way.  Because they are so moist and tender, you need to be a little careful to gently lift them out of the muffin tins after baking, especially since, in my case, the muffins spread and turn out with wide, flat tops (which make for very nice crusty, browned edges).

A hefty dose of chocolate chunks certainly doesn't hurt either.  But if chocolate muffins aren't your thing (I suppose that's a possibility), this muffin recipe is a good basis for other types of mix-in's - fruit instead of chocolate [see blueberry version near the end of the post].  But of course, chocolate is totally my thing so I happily went with it during my first go-round, mixing in a combination of 60 to 70% dark chocolate for a little bit of nuance. I added a touch of almond extract to my batch of muffins because of the ground almonds in the batter and because I was thinking about chocolate yogurt snack cakes, which I typically make for my little guy whenever I have extra whole milk yogurt around.
Eating a chocolate chunk muffin with a side of strawberries makes for a balanced breakfast, right?
Once you start, it's hard to stop eating these.  I found myself trying to get at every bite of chocolate encased within the bouncy moist cake.  Looks like I found another way to put my whole milk yogurt to good use!

I thought these muffins looked like chocolate chip cookies from the surface and that's one way to describe the taste though they're more complex than that with the touch of almond flavor, bit of tang from the yogurt, and the bouncy moist texture of the cake/muffin itself.  
I made a half batch of six muffins.  Divide the mixed batter generously within the lined muffin cups.  They will fill up close to the very top.  I sprinkled some turbinado sugar on top of the muffins.  You can omit that if you like.
I expected the muffins to puff and dome, like the picture in the cookbook, but they spread instead and the tops were flat.  Flat muffin tops with golden edges, like these, can make some of the best muffins so I have no problems with that.  It's just a matter of expectation going in.
It just takes a little care to get them neatly out of the muffin tin.  But then you're rewarded with some tasty muffins that can sit on the counter for 2-3 days, staying nice and moist and ready to go with a cup of coffee.  Muffins are always handy to have around.  Don't you love walking into a good bakery and seeing a slew of big, beautiful muffins?  Making a good one at home is the next best thing.
A coffee, a muffin, and a bit of fruit makes for a lovely breakfast, or a great afternoon treat.

The blueberry-lemon version

Over this past weekend, I made a blueberry version of these muffins!  Like many of you, I'm snapping up some good berries at the market these days and it's so nice to be able to use some fresh blueberries to make muffins.
For these blueberry muffins, I simply used the same recipe, omitting the almond extract and chocolate, and adding lemon zest and fresh blueberries.
As you can see, the muffins still turned out with flat tops.  They were incredibly moist and tender, essentially delicious.  The trick is to get them out of the muffin tins gently. I loosened the sides with an offset spatula and actually set a wire rack gently on top and flipped them out; then, I quickly inverted them back upright onto the rack.  
This blueberry-lemon version got a big thumbs up from the fellas (even the little one who wouldn't exactly be reaching for blueberries). So sometimes you feel like chocolate muffins, sometimes you feel like fruit.  You can use this base recipe for whatever mood you're in!  

One last thing: When I buy whole milk yogurt - usually with the intention of making our favorite banana bread - I take some to make chocolate yogurt cakes [the latest batch shown below].  These chocolate yogurt cakes (which, ironically, turn out much the way I expected the chocolate chunk muffins to look!) are chocolaty and moist but not heavy or cloying.  A little almond extract adds a great aroma and flavor to them that we adore.  So if you find yourself with some extra yogurt on hand, I recommend these recipes.  And on the savory side, I like to mix yogurt with tandoori spices and lemon juice to marinate chicken for tandoori chicken.  As you can see, I really try not to waste!
Chocolate Yogurt Cakes: another great use for whole milk yogurt

Recipe:

Chocolate Chunk Muffins 
Adapted, slightly, from Huckleberry

- Makes 12 muffins -

1 1/4 cups (160g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (25g) almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (170g; 12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (165g) sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup (180ml) plain whole yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Scant 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 1/4 cups (210g) chopped dark chocolate, 60-70% cacao
Turbinado (coarse, sanding, or granulated) sugar, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with a rack positioned in the middle of the oven.  Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until fluffy, 1-2 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.  Turn mixer off and add the dry ingredients, as well as the yogurt, vanilla extract, almond extract (if using), and chocolate.  Mix until just incorporated.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups.  It will reach all the way to the top and maybe even slightly over.  Sprinkle tops with some turbinado sugar, if desired.

Bake until muffins are brown and just spring back to the touch, about 22-25 minutes. Avoid overbaking.  Let cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Then gently remove them from the muffin tin (you may need to run a small spatula around the muffin tops that have spread; the muffins are very tender so be gentle) to cool completely on the wire rack.

These muffins can be stored, wrapped and in a airtight container, for up to 3 days. They stay nice and moist.

Blueberry-lemon version: Omit the almond extract and chopped chocolate.  To the dry ingredients, add the zest of one lemon.  Toss 1 cup of fresh blueberries with 2 tablespoons of the dry mixture.  Stir the blueberries into the batter until just incorporated in the last step. Bake as directed.




38 comments:

  1. You are so RIGHT! I just baked a huge batch of banana muffins..well, a pretty boring one, and not even blog-worthy..but heck, you just can't turn down a moist and delicious muffin with a cup of freshly brewed tea for an afternoon break.
    Both of your muffins look great to me! Thanks for sharing, Monica.

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    1. I'm sure your banana muffins were blog-worthy (though my threshold is just 'anything I want to share' : ). I love making banana and chocolate muffins all the time. Whenever I get the baking itch, it's likely muffins or cookies. Every day should have an afternoon tea or coffee break, right? ; )

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  2. I feel the same way :) I can never turn down a freshly baked muffin! The almond flour, yogurt and almond extract sound perfect. Your muffins look so moist and tender and I love that they still stay like that even a few days afterwards. I love all the versions you made and would want one of each for breakfast!

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    1. Yes, these are crazy almost fall-apart moist and it stays pretty much that way for up to 3 days (and with the warmer temps, especially). My husband loves a muffin - or 2 - for breakfast so I have lots of excuses to keep making them. Thanks, Kelly!

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  3. These all look wonderful and the crispy edge has me drooling! I've often had the same experience with muffins - and cupcakes. Not sure why this happens. With cupcakes you can cover the dome-less top with icing. I would never be disappointed to eat these however! Yummy and those blueberry muffins look great!

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    1. Everyone loves a good crusty edge of that muffin top, right? : ) I don't mind the flat wide tops but it was just so different from the pic so it was unexpected. But these were so moist and tasty - I'll be making these and switching up the mix-in's often going forward. :)

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  4. They do look like chocolate chip cookies from the top! I love the way the texture looks from the photos - such a good lookin' muffin! It is funny how when we expect things to turn out one way we get disappointed even when they taste amazing!

    I also need to make those chocolate yogurt cakes...

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    1. It is so moist - goes down way too easy, I tell ya! : ) I highly recommend those yogurt cakes - light yet flavorful and the almond extract makes it.

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  5. Delicious muffins. They look so soft and yummy. Love it. I will try out this recipe soon. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe with us. :)

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    1. Thanks, Ritu. I'm really glad I tried these. You know when you buy whole milk yogurt for a recipe, you have a ton left. These are good ways to use it up!

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  6. Everything I make from that cookbook is AMAZING. Made the corn and tomato quiche for dinner this week and YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT RIGHT NOW. Just saying. I've made these muffins and while mine turned out looking like yours, the taste was spot on. I wonder if it has to do with sub-optimal baking powder/soda?

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    1. Good tips, Joanne - thanks!! That soup sounds so good. I wish I could go to Huckleberry; sounds like one of those places I could sit at for hours...
      It's so good to know your muffins turned out the same!!! I honestly don't think it's the baking powder/soda. I'm pretty positive mine are fresh. That's one reason I wanted to make a second batch - I thought maybe I dawdled a little too long putting the first in the oven (though it says you can even prep the batter night before and bake in the morning). I keep thinking that professional bakeries have these powerhouse confection ovens that are just totally different from home ovens but who knows! But like you said, I'm not complaining when they taste like this and have this moist a texture!

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  7. I love crusty brown edges on muffins! Almond extract always gives such a nice flavor to baked goods.

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    1. Agree. We love ourselves some almond extract! : )

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  8. After experimenting with many, I always go back to the simple chocolate muffins, they never disappoint. Both your versions looks awesome. I could eat a bunch with coffee, quite addictive. I don't have the book. Do you recommend it?
    You know Monica, maybe it's the baking soda or the temperature of the oven. A little higher temp has helped me in the past, although, you have to be careful that the tops don't brown faster. Again, why fuss about the tops, Love it anyways.

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    1. I've only made this from the book so I can't recommend it firsthand. Joanne says everything she's made from it has been awesome though. It's a beautiful book and I really wish I could pop into Huckleberry... : )
      I'm pretty sure my baking powder/soda are fresh and I'm inclined to think the industrial ovens are convection and hotter and maybe that just blasts it and gives the muffins that dome? That, or the recipes scale down differently..or it's not exactly the same recipe used in the shop? They are so moist though...hard to imagine we could get this interior moist texture with a big hearty dome anyway.

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  9. The muffins do look really moist and bouncy! Nice!!! I would love to try chocolate chunks and blueberry-lemon... I can't decide! Def saving this recipe - I can't wait to bake when my kitchen is done. This will be a wonderful treat!

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    1. They are that, Nami. And it is hard to decide on what to have. I think that's why we love going to a good pastry shop or restaurant where we can have a choice and maybe a few bites of everything! : ) Your new kitchen will be a dream, I'm sure!!

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  10. These look fantastic! I wonder why some baked good never look like the ones in the pictures! That often happens to me in recipe books but less so with blogs.

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    1. Glad it's not just me. These muffins really look nothing like the ones in the book but they really taste fabulous so I'm not mad. ; )

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  11. I would NOT be able to stop eating these! And you're right - muffins are just so fun to make!

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    1. And these muffins at home seem so itty bitty that you just polish one off without much realizing it! haha

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  12. I love muffins of all kinds - either chocolate chunk or blueberry would be fantastic! And the chocolate yogurt cakes look divine.

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    1. Thanks, Beth. Those little yogurt cakes are great - not too heavy, not nothing either. : ) Have a great day and weekend!

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  13. These look so good and I want at least half a dozen in front of me now! :P I guess I need to start my weekend baking sooner. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend.

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  14. Hi Monica, you are soooo right about muffins, easy to make, easy to eat and so many variations that we can try!

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    1. It's great to have as a quick breakfast option, too! : )

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  15. I love homemade muffins and these blueberry ones are on my list to make this weekend!! Looks so soft!

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    1. Yes, very tender and moist for sure. Hope you like it!

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  16. Yumm!! I can't agree more; chocolate chunks in a muffin is the best. But blueberry would also be a fantastic mix-in. Delicious recipe!

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    1. It is very tasty, Monica...can't really go wrong with either mix-in but my heart always goes for chocolate first. ; )

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  17. We tried to go to Huckleberry many years ago. When we got there, the line was so long that we gave up and left. We still haven't gone back ever since. I would love to try their food, but that line was just too much. Now with your recipe, I can make these chocolatey muffins at home. You just made my day!!!! I am SO excited! :D

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    1. I can imagine! I generally refuse to stand in line for a crazy amount of time for anything unless it's just a once in a lifetime opportunity or something. Life's too short - and I'm too impatient! : ) Time to get baking, my friend!

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  18. Love each version of your muffins! So yummy!

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    1. Thanks, Marcela. I am always interested in making muffins. They're easier than cupcakes requiring frosting and you just feel you can eat more of them. : )

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  19. There are errors in this cookbook, this recipe is one of them :(

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    1. That could explain why my muffins came out looking a lot more different than the picture in the book. At least they were very tasty.

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