Tag Archives: chocolate

Healthy Muffins! Blueberry Chocolate Chip (Also: Dealing with bad eggs and crystallized honey!)


I love muffins!  Warmed with butter…they can be SO good!

I recently got my hands on some quinoa flour and wheat bran…two ingredients I haven’t used before…and I searched online for a recipe that called for both items. I was also looking for a recipe that was healthy and that didn’t contain gobs of sugar and other garbage.

Within the first few pages of my Google search, I found this: http://www.livinghealthymom.com/chocolate-chip-blueberry-muffins/ Since I found this website, I have made these muffins a number of times and in many different ways.

Those of you who know me well will notice that the photos in the post were taken both at my old apartment, and my new one.  That is how long this post has been sitting in my Drafts pile!

Click here for the recipe or scroll to the bottom of the post.

Right from the beginning, I found myself altering the recipe.  The first time I made them, I didn’t have eggs, so I substituted more applesauce.  I have used different berries (blueberries, strawberries), different types of chocolate chips (or none at all!) and have added coconut on occasion.

They’re so simple!  Although the dough is usually an odd colour prior to baking due to my use of frozen blueberries!

You start out like any other muffin baking adventure…combining the wet ingredients: eggs, yogurt, raw honey, applesauce, olive oil and vanilla.

Mmmm, yummy! 😉

Mixed up wet ingredients…ready for step two!

As a sidenote to all of this, I have had interesting adventures with both the eggs in my fridge and the honey in my cupboard.

The eggs…well, there are times I lose track of eggs. They are supposedly a perfect shape, a perfect food, easy to prepare, easy to use…and easy to overlook.  At one point, I had eggs, but I had no idea whether they were still good.  I did some online research to find a way to identify the old and stinky from the young and nubile…Yeah yeah, nubile and stinky aren’t really opposites…deal with it.

The old and stinky float!

What I discovered was that old and either stinky or “almost” stinky eggs tend to float!  And so, of my four eggs, two were happy to become muffin guts while the other two, sad to say, joined the compost party in my green bin.

At the same time as this, I discovered that my honey was rock hard.

I have since moved to fresh, local honey but at the time of my initial muffin attempt, my honey was um…less than perfect? Hard and crystallized to be exact.

Heating up my crystallized honey!

So while I prepped the other ingredients, the honey sat in a bowl of boiled water…which sort of worked.

I have to admit, if you have access to fresh local honey…buy it. It makes all the difference!

Next step…putting the dry ingredients together.

The first time I made these muffins was also the first time I used my new flour sifter!!!

It was a little harder than I expected as the flour kept getting stuck between the two blades and I had to keep shaking it to keep the flour sifting.

Buy a cheap sifter and work a little harder.

But eventually, sifting was just neat!

This is my excited Flour Sifting Face!!! 😀

Once you have mixed your dry and wet ingredients together…your muffin mix looks like this:

Once you’ve mixed your dough, add your berries, chocolate chips and coconut if you want.
I tend to use frozen blueberries more often than not. I like to buy bags of frozen berries marked “Wild Canadian Blueberries” on the package.  That way I know I’m getting the little wee berries that I used to pick with my mother as a child…you know the ones I mean…the tiny blueberries whose flavour absolutely explodes in your mouth when you eat them…a perfect mix of tart and sweet….Not these large overgrown blueberries we find imported year-round that have had all their flavour sucked out of them in exchange for large size and longevity.

Anyway…rant over…

The dough gets pretty funky when you add your blueberries!

Whee! Purply dough!

Not so funky if you use strawberries instead….more pretty….

Then, of course, you move on to filling your muffin tin.  I was recently gifted with a non-stick muffin pan…had been using a metal one until then.

GO BUY A NON-STICK MUFFIN TIN!!!

They are a gift from the gods! lol  No more scrubbing…no more broken muffin bits!
*sigh* I love my new muffin tin!

The old muffin tin…grrrrrr!

They bake for a fairly short amount of time…and then you have muffins!  They’re so quick and so easy…perfect for when you have company popping by, even last minute! 🙂

Blueberry with chocolate chip and coconut

Strawberry and Chocolate Chip

 

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Muffin

  • Ingredients:
    • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    • 3/4 Quinoa flour
    • 1/4 cup wheat bran
    • 2 tablespoons flaxseed (gives the blueberry muffin a slight crunch)
    • 1/4 cup raw honey
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
    • 1/4 cup organic non-fat yogurt
    • 2 eggs (OR an extra 1/3 cup applesauce)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 cup of fresh blueberries (OR frozen blueberries or strawberries)
    • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup coconut

    Directions:

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
    • Using your mixer combine eggs, yogurt, raw honey, applesauce, olive oil and vanilla.
    • Sift your flours, baking soda and baking powder together into a separate bowl.  Stir in wheat bran.
    • Combine your flour mixture and your wet mixture and mix by hand.
    • Stir in the chocolate chips/carob chips, the flaxseed and the blueberries.
    • Grease muffin pans with a bit of butter.
    • Bake for 18-20 minutes.
    • Serving size is 12 blueberry muffins using a standard size muffin tin, although I was able to make 10.

Recipe from  http://www.livinghealthymom.com/chocolate-chip-blueberry-muffins/

 

 

 


Oatcakes and Nova Scotia Flashbacks


I spent some of my most memorable moments in Halifax, NS in the late 90s.  I lived there for two years and I loved every minute of it.

There are some foods that will forever be connected to Halifax in my mind and oatcakes are one of those foods.  My favourite cafe, The Mokka, served oatcakes half-dipped in chocolate.  They were incredible.  Moist.  Delicious.  I spent many hours sitting there writing or drawing, with a cup of coffee, or six! (gotta love free refills), and an oatcake.

In ten years, I haven’t had any oatcake that was comparable to those.  Until recently, I never considered making my own either.  That was a mistake!  Not too long ago, I was on the internet looking at recipes and something I saw made me think back on those oatcakes I used to purchase in NS. So I did a search and found a recipe for “Nova Scotian Oatcakes”.  When I mentioned it to my mother, she dug up my grandmothers recipe and shared it with me.  Since my grandmother was from Nova Scotia, we were pretty certain that her recipe would represent true N.S. goodness.  It was almost identical to the one I’d found online so I decided to try it.

No regrets. At all.

They were easy to make.  Moist.  Delicious.  Just as I remember them!  The recipe didn’t mention chocolate, so I took it upon myself to temper some milk chocolate and dip them.

The.best.oatcakes.EVER!

Click here for the recipe or scroll to the bottom of the post.

Two things about the collection of ingredients that I need to mention.
1) There’s no cinnamon in the above picture because I decided  to add it last-minute.  It  added a nice flavour to the oatcake so I definitely recommend it.
2) You may notice that the ‘cup’ of brown sugar is slightly lacking in the picture.  This is because my sugar was ROCK hard and I had a hell of a time trying to soften it quickly.  I microwaved it in bowl along with a bowl of water, assuming the steam would soften the sugar rocks.  It did, but it took so long and eventually the water exploded, splashing the remaining sugar and melting it into a puddle.  So, the above ‘cup’ of sugar is all I could save from that disaster.

Reader Query: How do you go about softening brown sugar?  If you have to do it quickly rather than overnight, what ways have you found to be most successful?  At this point, I’m afraid I may just give in and throw out my bag o’ sugar-rock next time.  It was quite frustrating!

So, the recipe was really quite simple.  Mixed all the dry ingredients together….

Dry Ingredients

Followed by the addition of the shortening.


I keep meaning to buy a pastry blender for jobs such as this.  I’ve been told by many people that I can effectively ‘cut in’ shortening or butter with two knives but I find that awkward and I always end up falling back on … my own two hands!  A pastry blender would be quite helpful…although I have to admit that most of the time, I like getting my hands dirty, as it were.  This recipe was no exception.  (I wonder if shortening is good for the skin? My hands were quite soft afterwards!)

Batter after cutting in the shortening

Once the dough became crumbly (see picture above) I finally added the 1/4 cup of hot water.  I use my hands to mix it up and I have to say that initially I thought I had done something wrong.  Upon adding the water, the batter was insanely sticky and gooey.  I stood there for a few moments reviewing the recipe in my head, looking for errors, and in that time, I believe it was the oats that sucked up a lot of the added water.

So, my advice…add the water, mix and left the batter for two or three minutes.  It will become tacky and manageable all on its own.

At that point, it was ready to roll, literally.  I floured my counter top slightly and dumped out the ball of batter, covering it with a piece of wax paper to allow for easy rolling.

I cut my oatcakes into squares simply because that’s how they were served in Halifax, but of course you could shape them any way you please.  I did find the dough slightly sticky so the cut cakes had to be carefully manoeuvred off the counter top and onto the cookie sheet.

The final touch?  A light brushing with milk and a *slight* sprinkle of sugar:

Into the oven they went and 12 minutes later, I had lovely golden oatcakes!!

Since the oatcakes I used to eat were always half dipped in chocolate, I decided to go ahead and attempt to recreate them exactly.  As I allowed the cakes to cool in the fridge, I prepared a homemade double broiler since I didn’t have an actual one to use.  I filled the pot about half way with water, low enough that the foil/bowl wouldn’t be directly touching it, and wrapped the foil tightly around the pot opening, allowing no steam to escape.

Once the water was hot, I placed about 3/4 cup of milk chocolate chips in the bowl and stirred them until melted.  Technically, I stirred them until they were just over halfway melted, and then removed the bowl and continued stirring, which allowed the captured heat to melt the remainder without burning the chocolate.  Periodically, I would return the bowl to the broiler to absorb a bit more heat but I wouldn’t leave it there.

I had also read that milk chocolate needed to be heated to 86 degrees Fahrenheit so initially I kept track of the temperature as well.  Chocolate heats quite fast, at least it seemed to!

Dipping the oatcakes

I placed the dipped oatcakes on wax paper in the fridge.  An hour later, they were set….and absolutely delicious!

NOVA SCOTIAN OATCAKES



  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Optional: These oatcakes are awesome dipped in chocolate!  I used approx 3/4-1 cup of melted milk chocolate chips (see above)

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together then cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly.
  3.  Add in hot water and stir until mixture sticks together.
  4. Turn out onto floured surface and press mixture together.
  5. Roll out to approximately 1/2 inch thick. Cut into squares or circles.
  6. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  7. Brush with milk and sprinkle with white sugar.
  8. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden around the edges.

Catastrophic Cookie Fun – Should oatmeal cookies be dribble-y?


How badly can a person screw up making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies?  Try upwards of three hours worth of bad!

The saving grace?  They eventually turned out edible and, dare I say, yummy…and the experience lends itself to an utterly ridiculous, yet awesome, blog post!

Click here for the recipe I used or scroll to the bottom of the post but please NOTE:
The recipe at the bottom of this post has been insanely altered due to my mistakes.  It would be best if you start with the original recipe, found here, if you would like to try making them.

A couple of weeks ago, I meant up with a friend and she had brought along a bag of oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies.  They were deliciously oat-y and buttery, so of course, I asked for the recipe!

It seemed pretty straightforward…but three hours later, 6 cookie experiments later, my dribble-y inedible batter had become edible, while I still had no clue what I had done wrong!

One thing I have noticed since that Ultimate Cookie Challenge day, is that the recipe called for grinding 8 ounces of oats into a flour consistency.  I didn’t have a food processor and skipped that part.  THEN, I found I eventually had to add flour to the batter to hold the cookies together.  Coincidence?  I think not.

So, dear readers, if you see something in this entry that I have overlooked and that may have contributed to my cookie catastrophe, feel free to point it out!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I began by mixing the butter, white & brown sugar, egg and vanilla. If you’re thinking, “Holy crap, that’s a lot of butter!”  I agree.  That was the main problem, as you will see, with my batter.  The original recipe was in ounces, which I converted to cups.  I have checked and rechecked my conversion…1.25 cups of butter is what I keep coming up with.

Mixing up the butter and the sugars

Wet Ingredients Mixed

In another bowl, I mixed the few dry ingredients:

Dry Ingredients Mixed

While doing this, I also roasted the rolled oats at the same time.  I’ve never roasted oats before but I have to say, even if you don’t *have* to, roast them anyway.  They made my kitchen smell so good!

Rolled Oats ready for the oven

Baked Oats

Here is where I go off track from the original recipe.  I don’t own a food processor, so I didn’t have the means to grind the oats into flour as the original recipe required.  I also don’t have a stand mixer, rather I have my two hands and a wooden spoon or my little electric hand-mixer to choose from.

So, at this point, I mixed everything together, wet/dry ingredients and oats, using a wooden spoon and ignored the ‘flour’ grinding.  My first mistake.

I noticed the batter was quite runny so I used a tablespoon, scooped some batter onto a piece of parchment paper and popped it in the oven.  I had a gut feeling that it wouldn’t work, so I figured experimenting with one was the way to go.  I was right.

Cookie #1 - Def Too Much Butter!

Obviously, based on the above pictures, I was right!  I baked it for 6 min, then turned the tray for another 4 min (they were supposed to bake 12 minutes total but it started to burn). The butter ran across the parchment paper and the resulting cookie looked like this:

Cookie #1

The edges were burned and breaking…inedible…all the way.

I had a bowl of failed batter and a free afternoon ahead of me, so what did I do?  I decided to experiment and see if I could fix them!

Moving on to Cookie #2…I scooped another tablespoon of batter and added two teaspoons of oats to it.  Cooked it for 6 min, turning the tray and continuing for another 2 minutes before it looked burn-y.

Cookie #2 - Added Oats

Cookie #2 fell to pieces.

Cookie #2 - Crumbled

Next up, Cookie #3!  To this dollop of batter, I added ½ tsp of flour, thinking that the batter needed something more to hold it together.  Baked 6 min and then flipped tray, baking for an additional minute.  The resulting cookie looked quite similar to the original cookies my friend had made.

Cookie #3 - Added flour

For Cookie #4, I applied both additions from Cookies #2 and #3: ½ tsp flour and 2 tsp oats to the dollop of batter.  Cooked 6 min and then another. 2.5 min.  This cookie turned out to be the best of all of them so I decided to go ahead and alter the whole batch.

First 4 experiments

Here’s where I make it even MORE complicated.  This is the Capricorn coming out to play so if crazy in-depth (possibly pointless) details annoy you, or if you just don’t like math, skip this part! *wink*

I’d been altering a tbsp of batter at a time.  Now I had decided to alter the whole bowl but how much batter was in there?

I used a cup to roughly measure and it appeared I had approximately 2 cups of batter, which I figured would be about 24 tbsp/cookies.  So, half a teaspoon of flour to each and 2 tsp of oats to each would equal an additional 12 tsp flour and approx 24 overflowing tablespoons of oats (better than having to add 48 teaspoons which was my first measurement!)

So, I went ahead and added 12 teaspoons of cake/pastry flour and, since the added oats hadn’t seemed to make a great difference, I cut the number in half to start and added 12 overflowing tablespoons.  I again put a sample in the oven and placed the remaining batter in fridge.

While Cookie #5 was baking, I called a friend to share my cookie experimentation and have a good laugh.  He made a good point when he asked, “Have you tasted any of the experiments so far?”  Um…no.  THAT got a laugh and he encouraged me to try them!

In hindsight, I definitely should have been tasting my creations but I was so caught up with the experimenting part, plus…they didn’t look all that yummy.  So, I tried cookies #3 and #4.  They didn’t taste all that bad but they were quite greasy and brittle.

At this point Cookie #5 was ready.  I had baked it for 6 min and then flipped the tray for an additional minute.

Cookie #5 - Altered batch

It actually tasted fine but it was still brittle and falling apart.  By this point, I was getting the sense that the flour was necessary to hold everything together…plus, the more flour I added, the less the edges seemed to burn.  So, I decided to add a little more.  (Don’t worry!  Cookie #6 is the final product! lol)

For the final batch alteration, I added 2 tsp more flour to the mix, refrigerated dough for 20 minutes, then popped a whole tray of cookies into the oven. Baked 6 minutes, flipped the tray and continued for another 2 min.

Cookie #6 - The Final Product

Finally! A tray of cookies!

So, in the end, I followed a modified version of the recipe.

I added 12 teaspoons of pastry flour and 12 tablespoons of oats and, hours after I began, I had two batches of yummy cookies!! Whew!


RECIPE

The Oatiest Oatmeal Cookies

Finally! Cookies!

(Recipe taken from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/the-oatiest-oatmeal-cookies-ever-recipe/index.html)

NOTE: Due to a number of problems I had making these cookies, see above, I have altered the recipe to reflect what finally worked for me in the end.  If you want to try these cookies (and you should! because they’re yummy!), you may want to start with the original recipe at the link above and see how it works for you.

I repeat, the recipe below is NOT the original recipe!

  • 2 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 (a little less than 1/2 cup) ounces granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ – 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spread the oats into a single layer on a half sheet pan. Bake until lightly toasted, about 20 minutes. Cool the oats in the pan for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Mix butter, sugars, egg, vanilla in one bowl
  4. Mix your dry ingredients: baking powder, salt, cinnamon, flour in another bowl.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet, mix lightly and then add the baked oats.
  6. Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches between each mound.
  7. Bake until the cookies begin to brown around the edges, about 8-10 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through the cooking time.
  8. Cool the cookies on the pans for 2 minutes, then remove them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

(Original, unaltered recipe found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/the-oatiest-oatmeal-cookies-ever-recipe/index.html)


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