Monday, February 16, 2009

What Makes a Muffin a Muffin?

In my last post, I reflected on how I seem to have lost my sweet tooth and refined sugar cravings. Instead, my body's cravings and hunger cues point more accurately toward what it needs instead of what I think I want. Of course, if my body starts telling me to eat cheesecake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I may have to rethink this theory. For now, though, it seems to hold water.

That got me to thinking about Valentine's Day. Even though I've been working in elementary education for a number of years now, I always forget how much attention this holiday gets in the schools. During my student teaching, I was astounded to receive bag after bag laden with pounds of decadent chocolate from my students. Although this is probably not the norm -- my placement was in an affluent Boston suburb -- most schools make a big deal over Valentine's Day.

This year was no exception. I couldn't believe my eyes as parents swarmed the school for afternoon parties, toting ice cream, candy, chocolate, cookies, cupcakes, and other goodies. My own students gave their peers and teachers gift bags of candy. Although I was touched by the thoughtfulness, and especially enjoyed the bags one of my kids hand-decorated, I couldn't help but wonder -- why do we celebrate this holiday with such poor nutrition choices? Candy is not bad in and of itself, but why fill our children's bellies with such large amounts of sweets? Even adults can't seem to help throwing huge helpings of chocolates at each other.

In my classroom, we planned to celebrate Valentine's Day with a movie party. To add a little tasty but nutritious sweetness, I baked these muffins. Or are they brownies? I can't decide. They're baked in shaped muffin molds. And they incorporate whole wheat flour. But they also don't really look like muffins, and they do have quite a bit of chocolate as well. What makes a muffin a muffin? I ended up calling them brownies, but, sadly, even that moniker could not entice my students to eat them. Only one boy ate his -- the rest nibbled a little, then either threw the remains away or tried to pawn them off on each other. Sad.

Still, that meant more for me! I thought these browniemuffins were fairly good -- even the batter was lick-ably tasty! (Yes, that's me goofing off with my Foodbuzz spatula . . . .) The Best Husband Ever seemed to think even higher of them than me. The combination of cocoa powder, melty chocolate chips, and tender blackberries made for some deliciously dark decadence. They tasted best fresh from the oven, yet remained great when warmed the following day. I topped the heart browniemuffins with matching heart-shaped Ginger Sweeties that I won from The Ginger People. The Sweeties sort of sank down during the baking process, though, but that simply made them a spicy surprise.

These treats are a good compromise of the naughty (chocolate! chocolate! chocolate!) and nutritious (blackberries! whole wheat flour! ginger! applesauce!). Enjoy these for breakfast, dessert, snack, or as a side. In fact, these are so good at any time of the day or night that I'm submitting them to the Quaker True Delights Be Delighted contest, sponsored by Foodbuzz.

Heart-y Double Chocolate BrownieMuffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup liquid egg substitute
1 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup blackberries
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 Ginger Sweeties (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400*F. Grease a muffin tin of your choice with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and ginger. In a separate bowl, mix the applesauce (I used peach flavor -- use whatever kind strikes your fancy), milk, eggs, and vanilla extract, stirring until very smooth. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened. Incorporate the blackberries and chocolate chips, mixing until distributed evenly throughout.

Pour the batter into the muffin tin so that each cup is about three-fourth's of the way full. Top each browniemuffin with a Ginger Sweetie or other fun topper of your choice. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes, then remove the muffins to a wire for another 5 minutes. Enjoy warm and plain, or spread a browniemuffin with low-fat cream (my favorite is Cool Whip) and top with sliced fresh strawberries for a casual chocolate strawberry shortcake.

Makes 12 browniemuffins.


  1. JennDZ - The LeftoveFebruary 16, 2009 at 12:56 PM

    That is such a cute way to use those Ginger Sweeties! :) I am glad to see you putting them to such good use!Like your new digs!

  2. JennDZ - The LeftoveFebruary 16, 2009 at 12:58 PM

    Oh and I took the liberty to update the Foodie Blogroll with your new blog name! :)


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