Showing posts with label chocolate muffins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chocolate muffins. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Chocolate Ricotta Muffins: An easy, low-fat Coffeehouse recipe from Cleo Coyle

A Brew to A Kill:
A Coffeehouse Mystery
Cover art for the paperback
edition, releasing Aug. 2013
My readers might recall these light, chocolaty muffins from my recent Coffeehouse Mystery A Brew to a Kill

As the story opens, Greenwich Village coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi not only attempts to expand her business with a coffee and muffin truck, she also hires a sweet-natured dietitian to help lighten some of the higher calorie items on her menu. 

When Lilly is brutally struck by a hit-and-run driver, Clare’s outrage propels her into tracking down the culprit; and once again, Clare is sleuthing her way into and out of trouble. 

For today's recipe, I attempted to channel Lilly and duplicate one of her menu makeovers. May you eat it with joy--and in good health! 

~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle's 
Chocolate Ricotta Muffins 
With a mocha variation 

To download this recipe in a free 
PDF document that you can print, 
save, or share, click here.

A few quick notes...  

The star of today's recipe is, of course, the ricotta cheese, which brings creamy moistness to these muffins along with protein and nutrition. 
The fat component comes not from butter but canola oil. An even healthier option for the fat is one I sometimes choose--extra virgin, cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil. (If you've never used coconut oil before, a helpful post on particulars and brands can be found here.) 

Natural cocoa powder adds flavor but also structure to the muffins, which allowed me to reduce the amount of refined white flour in the recipe. To make these muffins even healthier, you can swap in “white whole wheat” flour instead of all-purpose, which brings more dietary fiber to your snack table. Finally, gluten-free flour is always an option for those who need it. 

And now for the recipe...

Makes 6 large muffins or 8 small


1 large egg
½ cup ricotta (whole or part-skim)
½ cup light buttermilk (shake before measuring)
3 Tablespoons oil (canola, vegetable, or extra virgin coconut)
¼ cup granulated white sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 pinches of table salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour 

Variation: For Mocha Muffins, add 1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso where indicated in Step 1. Instant espresso is freeze-dried espresso and not ground espresso roast beans. I use this brand (Medaglia D’oro), but you can certainly use any you like. 

Chocoholics: Feel free to fold in semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips before baking (1/3 to 1/2 cup, according to your own taste). You can even “go nuts” and add finely chopped hazelnuts or walnuts. 

Step 1 – Make muffin batter with one-bowl mixing method: Using a hand whisk or electric mixer, beat the egg until slightly frothy. Measure in the ricotta, light buttermilk, oil, white and light brown sugars, cocoa, vanilla extract, salt, baking powder, and baking soda (if making mocha muffin, add your 1-1/2 teaspoons of instant espresso now). Whisk well until fully blended. Measure in the flour. Mix only enough to make a smooth batter. Do not over-mix at this stage or you’ll develop the gluten in the flour and your muffins will be tough instead of tender. 

Step 2 – Spray the papers: Line muffin cups with paper holders and spray the papers with non-stick spray. This is a low-fat recipe, so if you do not spray the papers, the muffins will stick.

Step 3 – Bake: This recipe makes about 1-3/4 cups of muffin batter. You can make six large muffins or eight small ones. Divide the batter among your muffin cups. Bake in a well-preheated oven at 375° F. for about 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Do not over-bake. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into a test muffin comes out clean (with no batter clinging to it). 

TIP: Muffins will be fragile when they first come out of the hot oven. Allow them to cool in the pan for about ten minutes and transfer to a rack. If muffin edges are sticking to the paper, simply allow them to cool a bit more.

Optional frosting: 
If you like, finish cooled muffins with a dollop of my Chocolate “Buttercream” Frosting (without butter or cream). What is the mystery ingredient in this "healthified" chocolate frosting? (Followers of this blog already know. :))

Get my healthier chocolate frosting recipe by clicking the link above or clicking here


F   o  o  d  i  e 

P h o t o s

To see more recipes from 
A Brew to a Kill, click here 
for the illustrated guide, and...

☕  ☕  ☕  ☕  ☕

Eat with joy! 

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here

Friday, September 3, 2010

Double-Chocolate Hurricane Muffins by Cleo Coyle

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. 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:

overripe bananas,
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
Hurricane Muffins

To download a free PDF of this reicpe to print, save, or share, click here.

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

Roast Mortem: 
A Coffeehouse Mystery
Now a National Hardcover
Mystery Bestseller from...
Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime

To learn more about me and
my Coffeehouse Mysteries or to see more of my recipes,
visit me at