Super Crown Muffins

 

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Baking is one of my favorite ways to start my day! It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is – if I get the desire, I jump to action, pulling out the staples while thinking about the flavors or the mix-ins.

20150209_071820Even though they mostly turned out deliciously moist and flavorful, I was never fully impressed with how they looked. For every batch I pulled out of the oven, my hankering for perfecting the beautiful super crowns you see in coffeehouse muffins kept getting stronger! No matter how much I researched on tips and techniques, my heart would sink every time I pulled out a delicious yet flat muffin batch – well, until this week!

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So, you see, I didn’t give up! I kept whipping up batch after batch nearly every week! After all, they do make great after school snack or mid morning pick me upper even if they are flat topped! I tried tweaking an ingredient here and ingredient there, while still trying to keep the end product relatively healthy! Yes, “healthy” is a loosely used term, so let me explain what I mean. These muffins don’t use much added fat (1/4 cup oil for a dozen), use a blend of whole wheat, all purpose and wheat germ, touch of honey and a bit of boost from 1% milk and fat free yogurt! In my opinion, this probably qualifies as relatively healthy compared to what you will pick up at the grocery store or your favorite coffeehouse. And the best part….this recipe is awesome for those of you who want to use few different mix-ins – like the blueberries and chocolate chip versions I made here. Read on to find out more!

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So, unlike what you might read on the internet about having to overfill the muffin pans to achieve the sky-high crown effect, these muffins do just great with about 3/4 fill. They puff up so beautifully that I sometimes catch myself taking a few peeks before they are done! ūüôā And the golden color….You have to try this to experience the joy yourself! So, I hope you will grab couple of mixing bowls and go to task! Enjoy!

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Super Crown Muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins
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Ingredients
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup fat free plain yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 cup 1% milk
Add-ins: Chocolate chips, nuts, berries…
Optional: Streusel topping: Combine 2 tablespoons all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 12-well muffin pan and set aside (or alternatively use paper liners)
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients
3. In a small mixing bowl, combine all the wet ingredients
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently fold in just until the flour mixture gets moistened. DO NOT OVERMIX!
5. Scoop about a tablespoon of batter into each greased well. Add a few chocolate chips or berries or whatever you choose. Divide rest of the batter evenly among all the wells and top with few more chocolate chips or other add-in of your choice.
6. If using streusel topping, divide it evenly among all the muffins.
7. Bake for about 20 minutes till the crowns are puffed up and beautifully golden!
8. At the end of baking, remove the pan and let the muffins cool for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

You can refrigerate these muffins for 3-5 days. Because of the low fat content, the muffins taste better when you microwave for just a few seconds!

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Minty Avocado Brownie

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It’s March! And that usually is characterized by GREEN!

From Facebook posts, it is quite clear people are already enjoying their minty Shamrock shakes! So, when the thought for brownies came about, I wanted to combine chocolate and mint, but in a healthier unison! Avocados anyone?

 

20140303_143058[1]¬†In many ways, I guess a good ripe avocado is nature’s butter! Or creamy milk substitute (gosh, can’t wait to try an avocado ice cream or froyo!). Since I had a perfectly ripe fruit tempting me to transform it into something even more divine than its natural indulgent self, I figured I would try out an avocado brownie recipe that I saw at http://www.kirantarun.com. So, that’s what I did! Avocados have¬†a lot¬†of the¬†good fat – but they do pack some serious calories if you eat too much. This recipe¬†that serves 8 uses one large avocado, so not bad. The only cholesterol that is in this recipe comes from a single egg used.

Also, I replaced wheat flour with all purpose flour and¬†ground flax. The end result was a very moist, soft,¬†“choco-minty” brownie that prompted calls for seconds! Next time, I would like to add¬†some chopped nuts (pistachios sound good) to add a bit of textural element. All in all, I think you will not be disappointed in this recipe. In fact you will probably have this as your go-to recipe when you run out of mint-chocolate chip ice cream! This is one of those recipes that definitely needs to find a place¬†in¬†the “guilt free indulgence” category!

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Minty Avocado Brownie

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients
1 large ripe avocado
1/2 cup minus 2 heaping tablespoons all purpose flour
2 heaping tablespoons ground flax
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 heaping tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
1 egg, very lightly beaten
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
2 tablespoons chocolate chips, optional
2 tablespoons chopped nuts, optional

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mash avocado until quite smooth in a medium bowl.
3. To this, add lightly beaten egg, mint extract and espresso mixture.
4. In a separate bowl, mix well the dry ingredients except chocolate chips and nuts.
5. Gently fold in the dry ingredients into the avocado mixture.
6. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if used.
7. Scoop batter into a small loaf pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Level with a knife or back of spoon.
8. Bake for about 25 minutes, till center tests done (toothpick test).
9. Cool in refrigerator and cut into eight squares, about 2″ wide.