"if you wish to be glamorous, become a cake baker" -The Joy of Cooking

Friday, January 11, 2013

Guilt-free Chocolate Muffins!!!!

After all the large festive family meals, sinful rich indulgences and generally the butter, sugar and fat filled fest that is christmas (and rightly so, that is what christmas and the holidays are all about!)

January is (usually) all about starting the year off on the lighter and health minded note.  I think this rather  welcome after the heaviness of the holidays and whether or not we keep up with the resolution to eat right and lose weight is another topic altogether...however we shall try!!

Trying to keep this motivation going can be a struggle.  Especially for me since I love baking! Saying I have a sweet tooth is a little bit of an understatement.

Although I've made a commitment to eat more healthy and exercise, I still want to bake and blog, so I was super excited when I came across this fabulous recipe in this months issue of Chatelaine.  The recipe is called Super-Awesome Chocolate Muffins.  However, with no butter, oil, sugar or flour I was very intrigued.  That doesn't sound like it will taste very super or awesome.

Right?   How can it?

How can something taste good without any of the things i'm used to baking with?  I'm happy to say that I was very pleasantly surprised.  These muffins really are awesome, fudgy and chocolaty you forget that they are actually very good for you.  168 calories, 6g of protein, 4g fibre and only 6g of fat!!  They contain healthy, booty- friendly ingredients like flax meal, unsweetened apple sauce and greek yogurt.

Just from the oven.  Since the batter will stick to muffin papers its suggested you use silicone muffin liners or I just oiled my muffin pan so they wouldn't stick.
Look how rich and delicious these look.  The recipe calls for cocoa powder and dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate is very high in anti-oxidants so make sure that you use the highest quality cocoa and dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa that you can find.  Your muffins will only be as good as the ingredients you use 

Here is the cocoa I used, available from Williams-Sonoma.  Lindt 70% is my favourite dark chocolate to bake with

So delicious : ) and guilt free which really is super awesome!!

Here is the recipe:

Super-Awesome Chocolate Muffins (Chatelaine, January 2013)

1 3/4 cups Large flake oats
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup ground flax meal ( I used Bob's Red Mill brand)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 egg whites
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup 2% greek yogourt 
1/3 cup Agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot water
100g pkg Dark chocolate (70-85%) very finely chopped

Line the muffin pan with silicone liners or oil the pan with vegetable oil.

Pour oats into a food processor and whirl until they are very finely ground.  Add cocoa, flax meal, baking powder and baking soda and salt.  Whirl again until combined, about 1min

Whisk the egg whites, applesauce, yogurt, agave and vanilla in a large bowl until combined.
Add to food processor with the hot water.  Whirl until combined about 1 min.  Scrape back into the bowl.  The batter will be very runny.  Let it sit for about 20min until thickened (it kinda ends up like the consistency of oatmeal).

Preheat oven to 350.  Stir in the chocolate and scoop into your muffin pan.  Bake for 25-27min.  The muffins will have risen and when a tooth pick is inserted it will come out slightly sticky but not wet.  Let the muffins cool for 15 mins in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely.  

You can also turn these muffins into yummy cupcakes! with this vanilla marshmallow frosting:

2/3 cup agave syrup
2 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3 tbsp dark chocolate finely grated

Combine agave, 2tbsp water and vanilla in a small sauce pan and bring to boil.  Remove from heat.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form about 1min.  Slowly pour in the hot syrup down the side of the bowl and keep beating until stiff peaks form.  

Spread frosting on muffins and sprinkle with chocolate and voila...you've got cupcakes that won't ruin your new healthy start to the new year :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year Pavlova

OH PAVLOVA...how do I love thee...let me count the ways.

I love your crisp outer shell and gooey, marshmalloey center, your softly whipped cream and tangy fruit.  You really are just perfect.

I was introduced to Pavlova by my all time favourite food writer Nigella Lawson.  She said this dessert was named after the famous ballerina Anna Pavlova because the whipped egg whites reminded the pastry chef of her tutu.  This is definitely one of my absolute favourite desserts to eat and is so simple to make.  This recipe comes from her book How to be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking.

Here is the base of the pav, it is totally normal for it to have cracked and sunken a little like shown here.  All it really is, is a kind of giant marshmallow but better, its light and airy and so delicious.  Nigella writes, "I love the contrast between the crunchy, edible jewels on top and the soft, yielding cream and marshmallowy base beneath." 

For the base you will need 8 egg whites, pinch of salt and 500g of sugar.  With the whisk attachment beat the whites and the salt until foamy, then slowly add the sugar and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Then fold in 1tbsp of cornstarch and 2 tsp of white vinegar.  I added in 1tsp of vanilla.  Nigella's recipe calls for rosewater.  Next, draw a 20cm circle onto your parchment lined baking sheet.  Mound the whites onto the baking sheet within the circle and smooth the sides and top.  Place in a 350 oven and immediately turn your oven down to 300 and bake for an hour and 45mins.  This will cause the pav to have a crispy, crunchy outer layer and a soft, light and marshmallow like centre. Once it has finished baking, turn off the oven and crack the door open a bit and let the pavlova cool completely like this.

For the topping you will need 500ml whipping cream.  I added a little sugar (not too much because the meringue is so sweet) and the seeds from a vanilla bean.  I wanted this pav to be extra special because it is such a special occasion.  Whip the cream and the sugar and vanilla beans until thick but not too stiff. Pile the cream onto the meringue.  Sprinkle the seeds of 1 pomegranate over the top.  You could add raspberries or strawberries instead.  You could also shave over some dark chocolate as well. Nigella makes a syrup to drizzle over the top by juicing 1 pomegranate and the juice of half a lemon and letting it boil until thick and when that cools drizzle over the fruit and cream. 

I decided to just sprinkle over some pomegranate seeds.  I think it looks so pretty and festive.  Please try this. It is so good.

Happy New Year and Happy baking :)