I actually had another recipe planned for today, but the week's weather changed my culinary game plan.
Tracking Earl's swirl on the Doppler all week made me think of...well, chocolate. Swirls of chocolate. The result? My Double-Chocolate Hurricane Muffins...
Note the chocolate vortex that forms in the center of my babies -- not unlike Earl's deceptively peaceful hurricane eye.
If only hurricanes had gooey chocolate centers, then maybe Willy Wonka could anchor at the Weather Channel. Now that would be interesting.
Well, anyway, the coming sea storm stirred up a mix of weather memories for me. I live in New York City, where storms rarely interrupt our power. That wasn't the case where I grew up. In the cloud-heavy hills of Western Pennsylvania, storms often swept in, simultaneously sweeping aside electrical lines. And you know what? I loved it -- as did most of the kids in my neighborhood. Of course, those were the days before video games and computers. These days kids have a different perspective on the power grid.
Cleo Coyle - armchair
storm chaser and author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
Yet the world was so exciting when it was unplugged -- televisions went off, streetlights went dark. Houses up and down our suburban block appeared totally black, except for those magical fairy-like glimpses of flickering candles and streaking flashlights.
We had two ovens in our house -- upstairs was electric, downstairs gas. My sister and I would grab flashlights and head down to the gas stove to pop popcorn. Then we'd sit on the front porch and watch the lightning, listen to the thunder (and maybe the battery-powered radio), and just hang together. Neighbors would come out, check on each other...Nothing better.
Storms can be dangerous, of course, even deadly -- and if you or your loved ones have been battered by one, I do realize it's no laughing matter. As I type this now, Earl is not set to do much damage, yet I fully realize if he decides to shift and become stronger, my little Queens' row house could end up next to Dorothy's farm.
But, c'mon, let's face it, if you're out of harm's way, storms can be pretty entertaining. Ever seen those news reporters bundled in hooded slickers and rubber pants, standing in the middle of horizontal rain, literally holding onto a pole to stand upright, saying things like, "Yes, Diane, it's getting quite windy now!"
Okay, I'll admit one last thing right here and now. I'm a total sucker for those big, epic, weather-driven popcorn flicks: Twister, Perfect Storm, The Day After Tomorrow. Hmmm...do you think maybe all those years eating popcorn while watching lightning flash over the Pennsylvania hills left its pavlovian mark? Could be...
Now what about you?
Do you like storms or hate them?
Do you have storm memories to share?
As I said, today's recipe was inspired by Earl's swirls. Storms tend to lock us inside and make do with what we have on hand, and I thought it would be fun to see what I could make today, based on what was available in my kitchen:
dry roasted peanuts,
Devil's Food cake mix...
The result is below -- one darn tasty chocolate muffin. The banana flavor is subtle, but it's there in the background and combined with the peanuts and melted chocolate chips, this muffin evokes the delightful taste memory of a chocolate-syrup drenched banana split. It's delightful with coffee so it's a great afternoon pick-me-up. It's also a lovely dessert muffin -- serve them warm with fresh raspberries on the side. Trust me. These are delicious!
Cleo Coyle's Double-Chocolate
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Makes: about 18 muffins
1 box (18.25 ounces) Devil's Food cake mix (the kind with pudding in the mix) 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted 2 large eggs, beaten with fork 2 very ripe bananas, mashed (*see my note about substitutions) 2 teaspoons vanilla (gives a nice balance of flavor to the chocolate cake mix starter) 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips(or chopped block chocolate) 1/2 cup dry roasted, unsalted peanuts, chopped (or walnuts or hazelnuts)
Directions: Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. (Be sure the melted butter is not too hot. You don't want to cook the eggs.)
Mix by hand until well blended, but do not over mix. If you overwork the batter, you'll produce gluten in the flour and the muffins will be tough instead of tender. You don't have to do the hurricane swirl in the batter. I just thought it went with my theme. :-)
Line muffin cups with paper liners and fill each cup about 2/3rds with batter. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. (Do not over bake. It's actually better to under bake these muffins than over bake them.) Remove from oven and carefully transfer the muffins to a rack to cool. (Try not to let them remain too long in the hot pan or the bottoms may steam and become tough.)
EASY SUBSTITUTIONS - If you don't like peanuts, swap them out for another nut (walnuts or hazelnuts would both work well in this recipe). The bananas are a great way of cutting down on the need for fat. If you aren't a fan of bananas, however, you can substitute 1/2 cup applesauce instead. If you don't care about added fat, then simply substitute another 1/2 cup of melted butter (or vegetable or canola oil). Then you can...
Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle
A Coffeehouse Mystery
Now a National Hardcover
Mystery Bestseller from... Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime
To learn more about me and
my Coffeehouse Mysteriesor to see more of my recipes,
visit me at CoffeehouseMystery.com