Because A Friday Treat is the Perfect Way to End the Week!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Ginger and Dark Chocolate Muffins

This week I’m tackling one of those everyday baked goods that have always given me trouble when it comes to making my own – the humble muffin. I think the problem is that when I think of muffins, I think of those you buy in supermarkets or coffee shops; light airy and uniform in their mushroom like shape. When you make them at home however they never, I repeat never, turn out this way! And I’ve made enough muffins, using many different recipes over the years to know. They actually turn out a lot more dense than those you purchase, sometimes sweeter or sometimes more savoury. It all depends on the recipe you use, of which there are hundreds as I learnt when researching for my own recipe, and they all vary.

Now just comparing basic muffin recipes in only three books, I found that some use vegetable oil, some use buttermilk, some use milk and some use both. There are also those that call for less than 100 grams of sugar and those that call for nearly 200, some that use vanilla extract and those that say it isn’t necessary – the variations are both endless and incredibly confusing!

What then, is the best muffin recipe to use? Who knows? I certainly don’t! What I do know however, is that this recipe makes great muffins – so use it! Substitute the ginger (both the spice and the crystallized ginger) and chocolate for whatever you like. I decided to use ginger in this recipe because it’s one of those delicious, warm spices that are necessary both for Christmas and when it gets freezing cold outside, and because I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to play with crystallized ginger and this seemed like a great time. I love the combination of ginger and dark chocolate, something I came across when I made a key lime pie with a ginger biscuit base and dark chocolate drizzled over the top. I’d also never seen this combination in a muffin before and figured it was worth a go.

The general consensus among those who tried this recipe was that it’s a winner. There was of course my father, for whom no baked good is perfect unless it’s made by Mr. Kipling, and he described them as “not what I was expecting”. I have no idea what this means and am therefore voiding his opinion – after all, ginger and dark chocolate muffins is a fairly self-explanatory title, no? He loves to give these little criticisms about my baking, potentially because he just enjoys annoying me. I notice that it doesn’t stop him from eating the vast majority of the things I make though.

The recipe itself is very simple. The one thing that all muffin recipes have in common is that they basically involve putting all of the dry ingredients into one bowl and all the wet ingredients into another and mixing them together until just combined. That’s exactly what this recipe does; do this, stir in the chocolate and chopped crystallized ginger, put into muffin tins and bake. Simple. 

Some final tips before you get started:
  •   Melt your butter before you do anything else to give it time to cool. I just weigh it in a small ramekin and blast it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, saving me from the hassle of having to wash a saucepan.
  •   Use less crystallized ginger if you prefer, I’ve made mine fairly strong because I love it but I realised that not everyone else (i.e. Dad) does.
  • Sieve your flour. Few muffin recipes call for this but I think it makes them rise better and also makes them lighter in texture.
  •   Don’t be shy when it comes to filling your muffin cases. This isn’t one of those recipes that will overflow and go mental in the oven while you’re baking them, they just look better and even get that slight mushroom shaped top.
  • Most supermarkets sell buttermilk, it’s usually with the cream. If you can’t get hold of it though, just use natural yogurt.
  • The end mixture is supposed to be fairly wet and runny, so don’t panic if you think there’s too much liquid!

  • Dark Chocolate and Ginger Muffins
    70g Unsalted Butter (melted and cooled)
    270ml Buttermilk
    200ml Milk
    1 Egg
    ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
    350g Plain Flour
    Pinch of Salt
    2 tsp. Baking Powder
    ½ tsp. Bicarbonate of Soda
    2 tsp. Ground Ginger
    160g Caster Sugar
    75g Crystallized Ginger (finely chopped)
    150g Dark Chocolate (roughly chopped)

    12-Hole Muffin Tin Lined with Muffin Cases

    1)      Preheat oven to 170◦CIn a large bowl, sieve together the flour, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and caster sugar. Mix briefly.
    2)      In a large jug, mix together the melted butter, the buttermilk, milk, egg and vanilla extract. Whisk together until all ingredients are well mixed.
    3)      Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the finely chopped crystallized ginger and dark chocolate.
    4)      Divide the mixture evenly into the muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Try and cool before eating, but don’t feel too bad if a warm one falls into your mouth.


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