Sunday, July 15, 2007

Easy As Muffins

Dark Chocolate Orange Muffins

I’m feeling a bit better now; the good news is I’ve now managed a little spring in my step and I no longer feel like that seething cesspool of bacteria like I did a mere week ago. I think my immune system suffered a battering while at the conference last week eating lots of nutritionally deficient foods like hot chips, pizza and meat pies. All great when on the go, but terrible when you are trying to fend off disease.

So in my effort to wage war against those recalcitrant little bugs that have invaded my body and have yet still to pack up and leave completely, I bought a whole bag of Navel Oranges. Not only are they delicious this time of year, when they reach their season but they are also full of virus-fighting vitamin C. I don’t exactly know how adept they are at fighting disease, but it was more to soothe my conscience than anything else. I have little faith in antibiotics and really hate to even more pollute my body with drugs that I am happy to be sick longer and just let my own immune system fight it to the end. I just thought the oranges could provide reinforcements.

Dark Chocolate Orange Muffins

And now that I am feeling a bit better, I still have a surfeit of oranges lying around. What to do with so many oranges? Well I had many plans, many grand intentions- orange curd tart, orange focaccia, orange crème brulee; although my body just didn’t have the gusto to go though with any of them. I just wanted something you can whip up when you aren’t feeling 100%, but still wanted something that looked like I did put some ffort into it. Enter these Dark Chocolate and Orange Muffins.

They say that if something is easy that it’s "easy as pie", but truth be known, I never thought pie making to be that easy, especially in comparison to these muffins. I think the phrase should be amended to say: “Easy as Muffins”. This recipe was adapted from one of Donna Hay’s, the only thing I changed was the amount of sugar and I decided to use yoghurt instead of sour cream. I’ve been cooking from Miss Hay’s magazines a lot lately. If you are wondering why, it’s because my mum came across a whole stack of back issues while scouring for bargains at a garage sale (or for you North Americans- a yard sale). She found about 8 back issues altogether and all for a $1 each!

Dark Chocolate, Muffin Batter, Empty Remekins, Leftovers

Anyway, I always thought that the chocolate-orange combination was best suited for Christmas. I don’t know why but, but I think it’s because we always used to always get those candied chocolate oranges for Christmas every year from neighbours and family friends. They were always the Christmas gift you gave when you didn’t know what else to give, like the generic photo frame for birthdays. We gave them to our teachers and people who did odd jobs for us around the house, just to say a polite and unattached Thank You. So I never saw the beauty of those chocolate orange candies, until now that I am all grown up and we no longer receive or give those presents.

But nonetheless I needed to use some of those oranges before they were only good for a compost heap, and this muffin was the simplest recipe out of the bunch. It was time to revisit the orange and chocolate combination, sans the actual Christmas-time. As providence would have it, there was also a mid-winter Christmas event being held, so it was event more reason to make this recipe.

Inside the muffins

You know exactly when these muffins are done because your kitchen becomes filled with a beautiful orange perfume, as if beckoning you to finally open that oven door. The inclusion of yoghurt in the batter creates a slightly chewy and moist crumb. It’s beautiful, and the superfluity of chocolate chips is almost ridiculously childish, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. For these muffins, don’t hold back on the chocolate chips.

So have these muffins whatever season, Christmas time or not. But I assure you these will make any token Christmas present look even more sincere than you intended. If you happen to have some left over the next day, just pop them into the microwave to zap for a few seconds to nring those chocolate chips back to life. It's great for breakfast the next day, if you are inclined to have muffins so early in the day.

Dark Chocolate Orange Muffins

If you want more ideas on how to spend your mid-Winter Christmas, or if you are in the Northern Hemisphere- a mid-summer Christmas, which I think is how Christmas is meant to be spent, then make your way to Nihowera, where the round up for the Mid-Winter Christmas should be posted shortly.

Merry Mid-Winter Christmas!

Dark Chocolate and Orange Muffins
adapted from Donna Hay Magazine (Issue 8)
serves 8

Dark Chocolate Orange Muffins

1¾ cups plain all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup caster sugar
1 tbsp orange zest
1 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup plain yoghurt (no gelatine)
60g unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tbsp orange juice

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Cut 8 strips of non stick baking paper into 6.5 x 60cm lengths.*
Grease the paper and roll into cylinders, overlapping a couple of times. The cylinders should fit snugly into 8 x ½ cup capacity ramekins or muffin pans. Place the cylinders in the greased ramekins.
Place the flour, baking powder, sugar, orange zest, and chocolate in a large bowl and mix to combine.
In another smaller bowl, combine the yoghurt, butter, eggs and orange juice until well blended.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix until just combined.
Spoon the batter carefully into the prepared ramekins.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the tops are golden and cooked when tested with a skewer.
Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. They are ready to serve straight away.

*If you don’t want to make your own cases feel free to use conventional muffin cases. In this case you will make 12 muffins instead.


PiCkLeS said...

looks awesome!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Glad you are feeling better Jen! These look incredible. I love the combination of orange and chocolates. Perfect!

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that you're doing better! Those are some cute muffins, and though I've never been a huge orange/chocolate fan, I'd definitely be willing to give these a taste-test :D

Aimée said...

Hi Jen! These look so decadent and I love the combination of chocolate and orange. Hope you are feeling better soon.

Anonymous said...

get well soon ;)

Oh for the love of food! said...

Hey Jenjen, hope you're all well, these muffins look terrific! Thanks for the nihowera link, I've submitted my 'Christmas in July' post. I couldn't resist trying out your 'Gateau Suprise Chocolat Pistache' recently, will have a post on that soon.

Anonymous said...

So sorry you've been sick. No fun at all! Your muffins look gorgeous. My husband would be a very happy camper with those in his lunch sack.

myriam said...

you know, looking at your pictures always makes me feel good. the thought that there is someone else out there who cant get enough of light blue polkadot and stripy patterns somehow comforts me. - (which is something that even my gay friends dont understand any more... they seem to be totaly overwhelmed by all the polkadots in my life :-)

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

good to hear that you're feeling better! great pictures of the muffins

Paola Westbeek said...

wow! these look absolutely delicious!


Anonymous said...

I love the fact that you made your own cases; the light blue polkadots are cute! I've an abundance of oranges right now, and the idea of orange-chocolate combination sounds great. Consider this recipe bookmarked :) Thanks, Jen!

Jen said...

Pickles- Thanks!

Meeta- Thanks so much. I'm glad that I grew to love love the choc-orange combination. I didn;t always love it as a child, but isn't that always the way it is?

Ellie- Feeling much better thanks! Like I was saying to Meeta, I wasn't always a fan either, but I hope you will grow to love them.

Aimee- The combination has always been a winner, even though I didn;t always love it, there was clearly a reason why they were so popular.

Swee- Thanks, hope you are enjoying life back home : ) And hope your oven get fixed asap.

Oh For The Love of Food!- Yeah, that Chocolate Pistachio Cake is a favourite of mine. I find myself constantly daydreaming about it. I am definitely making them again. Can't wait to see yours!

Lynn- These muffins would be a great snack. They hold up pretty well a couple of days after too.

Myriam- It's nice to have found someone who appreciates dots and stripes as much as I do. I just can't get enough of them either, I think because they are so nostalgic.
BTW I love all your aprons!

VeggieGirl- Thanks, I'm glad to be feeling much better too.

Paola- Yes indeed, they taste even better than they look.

Ovenhaven- Yeah, they take a little bit of extra time, although I love how they came out looking very rustic. And yes, I have a thing for polka dots. Hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I did.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Jenjen, I absolute love her magazines, too. I have just renewed my subscription, btw.

These muffins are wonderful! I'm glad you shared the recipe since the first issue I own is #29. ;)

Kelly Innes said...

If there's anything to make you feel better, it's muffins. Chocolate is an added bonus!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen, I'm sorry to hear you've been so sick... glad to hear that things are looking up!
...and how could they not with lovely muffins like this! The orange-dark chocolate blend would be just heavenly!

Abby said...

"I no longer feel like that seething cesspool of bacteria." That's good! Ha.

Oranges are the only fruit I EVER crave, and I love them with chocolate. Your muffins look fantastic, and they're very chocolatey! The best!

Brilynn said...

I feel like I can almost smell those from here!

Anonymous said...

Great photos!

Unknown said...

i love pretty much anything that mixes the flavors of chocolate & orange... i will have to remember this one!

Peabody said...

Glad you are feeling better...I'm sure the muffins helped!

Cheryl said...

Oh look at all those chocolate chips. That would make me feel better too.

Caty said...

Good to hear your feeling better. And WOW! Those look incredible, I especially love the picture of the inside of one of them, they look perfect.

Unknown said...

Hey Jen - hope you're feeling better. Muffins looked so good, had to try them. Went back to the original recipe, but will try the yoghurt next time. They were delicious - took them to work today and am currently most popular person in the office. Thanks for the inspiration!!

Anonymous said...

Oh muffins! Always a simple cake to make compare to the others. I've made mixed berries pies recently but it's never as easy as muffins. I must try this one day.

It's not nice to get sick. I try to drink loads of water everytime when I felt I was going to get a nasty cold... Keep well.

Anonymous said...

Yum. Nothing like muffins to chase the bugs away. And for that extra orangey hit (because I love that chocolate-orange combo as much as the next person), you could even use Lindt's "Orange Intense" chocolate bar! (or is that too excessive?? :)

Emma said...

Beautiful! Orange and chocolate always say Christmas to me, I so often get a chocolate orange in my stocking!
Thanks so much for your entry - look for the round up this weekend on

Deborah aka Miss Bee said...

This is my first visit here...what delightful photos of these bagels and muffins! I just LOVE the way those muffins are wrapped - just darling and very creative!

Anonymous said...

I baked those babies this morning and the flavour is W-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l!! definetely go for dark chocolate! I used 75% Lindt's and its taste + orange is perfect. I gobbled one down straight out of the oven and it was very moist, so I hope it will stay that way tomorrow for my bakery swap. thx for the recipe!

michelle said...

I *love* the amount of chocolate chips you used, and the presentation is adorable. Also, I don't know you, and this is the first time I've ever commented, but I'm glad you're feeling better!

I'm not huge on the orange/choc combo, but I *am* huge on the white choc/lemon combo. Weekend muffins here we come!

Sabra said...

I love DH too! Congrats on your kitchn link

Liliana said...

These muffins look and sound absolute delicious! I am fighting off a nasty cold/flu bug now and also have an abundance of oranges in my fridge.

Once I feel better these muffins are definitely on the list to bake.

Anonymous said...

I had an orange from the cafeteria yesterday, found this blog post, and decided to whip these up. It was notably more complicated in a dorm with limited kitchen supplies, but my friends loved them (I'm sure waking up with still-warm muffins would make anyone happy). Next time I think I'll add more orange zest...I also added a little orange glaze on top for extra sweetness.

Altogether delicious!

Char said...

Wow - I made these last weekend and we loved them. Brightened a cold Kansas, USA day. You were so right - when the muffins are done the chocolate and orange aroma is simply wonderful. Thanks for sharing and your blog is simply wonderful