triple chocolate raspberry oat bran muffins

triple chocolate raspberry oat bran muffins

I can't believe that January is over and we've been told that spring is "only" six weeks away. As excited as I am about getting closer to spring, I am also a little worried about the little buds that are beginning to stick their heads out in my garden. And while I write this, I see snowflakes falling outside (another snow day). I'm hoping these guys make it through to summer or my garden is going to be flowerless! 

white and dark chocolate chips

I have so many kitchen goals for this warm season, that I've made a spreadsheet of what I need to do and when based on our local seasonal produce availability. Over the past few months, we've eaten up several jars of stuff that I canned last year and my empty jars are now looking very sad and lonely. It's time to fill them up!

raspberries

I baked a lot over the weekend and I made these triple chocolate muffins. Yes, triple chocolate! Dark cocoa, with a double dosing of dark and white chocolate chips, it's a decadent enough option for breakfast. They are not overly sweet or too moist or heavy to start your morning off, which is why these are my new favorites. Raspberries and chocolate are a fantastic combination and they taste delicious in these muffins. Since, I'm sticking with the theme of breakfast, I dosed these muffins with a little bit of oat bran. I modified and adapted this recipe from The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book.

triple chocolate and raspberry oat bran muffins

triple chocolate raspberry oat bran muffins

yields: 12-16 muffins

ingredients

1/2 cup (1 5/8 ounces) unsweetened dark cocoa
1/2 cup (2  7/8 ounces) oat bran
2 cups ( 8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used a madagascar bourbon extract)
1 teaspoon raspberry extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups plain low-fat greek yogurt
1/2 cup semisweet dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet white chocolate chips
1/2 cup fresh raspberries 

1. Preheat the oven to 375F and place a wire rack in the center of the oven. Place and line the paper muffin cups in a muffin pan. If you don't have paper muffins cups spray the cups in the pan with a neutral vegetable cooking oil.
2. Sift the cocoa, oat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt twice in a large mixing bowl and keep aside.
3. Place the butter and sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment cream for 4 minutes on medium high speed until light and fluffy.
4. Add one egg at a time to creamed butter and sugar mixture and beat each egg into the mixture at medium high speed for one minute. Mix in the vanilla and raspberry extracts for 30 seconds.
5. At medium-high speed, mix in the sifted dry ingredients in three installments, adding half of the yogurt between each installment. You may need to occasionally scrape down the bowl from the sides with a silicone spatula to ensure even mixing. Once the batter is completely mixed, remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips and the raspberries. 
6. Using an ice cream scooper, scoop out the dough into the lined muffin pan and bake them for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted through the center of the muffin. Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool for another 5 minutes. Serve warm. 
Note: Muffins are best when eaten the day they are prepared but if you want to store them, I recommend freezing the muffins in an airtight ziploc bag. 

chocolate raspberry whole-wheat biscotti

Biscotti in a bowl

Instead of saying that I do this occasionally, I'll be honest and say that I do this often, more so than necessary. Whenever, I walk into the grocery store, I'll invariably stumble upon some ingredient that will pique my curiosity and of course, I'll end up picking it without really giving much thought to what I would/could do with it. This is exactly what happened when I saw a bag of these freeze-dried raspberries at the store last week, I just had to have them! 

freeze dried raspberries and biscotti

Eaten straight up, they can be quite tart! However, I still had a bag of dried berries to deal with. For a while, I've been wanting to try baking berry flavored biscotti. The problem was the liquid content, biscotti needs to be dry and crisp, and fresh berries would be too moist and they would reduce the shelf-life of the cookie. But these freeze-dried raspberries could avoid all of these complications! 

There I was sifting flour and mixing a batch of biscotti batter. The batter got colorful while I folded in the crunchy raspberries with bits of dark chocolate and walnuts. Baking biscotti is fun, you get to do it twice! You can cut the loaves to any thickness you desire, I normally waiver between 3/8 to an inch, just make sure you use a sharp serrated knife to get a clean cut. This to me, is fateful perfection; chocolate, raspberries and walnuts wrapped in whole-wheat flour all of which would end up getting dunked in hot tea or coffee at some point over the next few days. 

baking biscotti chocolate discs

chocolate, raspberry and walnut whole-wheat biscotti

yields: about 40-46 cookies

ingredients

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup freeze-dried raspberries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (58.5% cacao)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt and keep aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until light yellow. Add the sifted dry ingredients into the batter and combine until a sticky dough is formed. Fold the raspberries, chocolate and walnuts carefully into the dough. Take care to prevent the dried raspberries from crumbling by folding gently. 
4. Transfer the dough onto a clean floured surface and divide into two equal parts. Form each half into a rough log about 10 X 2 inches in length. (The dough is sticky and it is helpful if you flour your hands while working with it). Transfer each log onto the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes until they turn golden brown. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through baking to ensure even cooking. 
5. Remove the logs and let them cool for 12 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F. Using a serrated knife, slice each log diagonally into 3/8 inch thick sections. (The thickness of the sections are entirely up to you, if you like them thicker you can even go up to an inch). Transfer the cut slices back onto the parchment paper and bake until golden and crisp on both sides for about 10 minutes on each side. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through baking. Once cooked, transfer the biscotti from the cookie sheet onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an air tight container. 

mixed berry slices


First, I was really astounded and had one of my "Wait, what ???" moments! You see, A Brown Table got a nod in the food section of The Hindu, one of the national newspapers in India. Needless to say, I am super excited and thankful for their generous feature. Its that time of the year again when the red carpet is rolled out and golden men are awarded. You can hear the loud pop of a champagne bottle and the resounding clapping of hands and perhaps see tears of joy rolling down after words of gratitude are shared. If you've already guessed by now, I am referring to the Oscars. Since we are having a few friends over to watch the show this weekend, I have been debating on my choice of dessert. For these kind of dinners, I normally lean towards some sort of chocolate based treat because it is usually a safe bet. But sometimes, I like to get a little adventurous and get everyone to partake in my culinary expeditions.


Seasonal mixed berries and convenience were my two big inspirations for this dessert. The convenience factor comes from the shape and size, thin slices are much easier to handle and make a great finger food. I would recommend flipping the berries to have their open ends facing downwards right into the batter, this way you won't end up with a surface full of craters and wells. You might notice some unusual types of flours for a cake batter in this recipe but when baking berries I've found adding cornflour and rice flour help to protect the fruit from getting mushy and absorb any excess liquid but at the same time keeping the cake moist. 


mixed berry slices

ingredients

6 ounces blackberries
6 ounces raspberries
1 cup sliced almonds
4 large eggs
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cornflour
1/4 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 9 X 10 inch rectangular pan with a sheet of baking paper and grease with a vegetable oil spray. Whisk the baking powder and flours together and keep aside. In a  mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together using a hand or stand mixer.  Now, add one egg at a time to the batter and beat till fluffy. Add 1/3rd of the flour mixture to the batter and continue beating till mixed. Similarly, incorporate the rest of the flour into the batter. Pour the cake batter into the baking pan, Randomly spread the berries out onto the surface of the batter keeping the open-end of the berries (raspberries) downward. Sprinkle the almonds on top of the entire cake and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or till knife comes out clean from the center of the cake when poked. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before you cut. Using a serrated knife cut the cake into squares or rectangles.