sea salt chocolate muffins

Sea salt chocolate muffin

On some mornings, all I want is a muffin, a deep and dark chocolate muffin with my coffee. Okay, perhaps more than one would be ideal and even perfect but either way I really like a good dose of cocoa in them. It's really the best way for me to double my daily am dose of caffeine with a whole lot of joy! Coffee with chocolate it can't get any better than that.

Brown sugar

I never ate a lot of muffins because most of the time they were either too sweet or too greasy and they also never had any interesting flavors that I would have wanted to try. Personally, I like my breakfast muffins to be multigrain or wholegrain based and I am a big fan of oat and oat bran in the mornings. So with the desire to keep things wholesome, I added a couple of different flours into the batter; oat bran, brown rice and whole-wheat give a delicious soft and grainy texture. 

Sea salt chocolate muffins

This is a very deep dark chocolatey muffin with a little bit of sea salt on the crust. When you take a bite into the muffin, the combination of the sea salt with the dark chocolate is simply amazing. The flavors intensify and every subsequent bite is even more exciting than the first, exactly the way I'd like to start my mornings. 

Muffin cocoa and salt

You only need to sprinkle a few salt crystals on top of each muffin, halfway through baking. If you put them on before they will start to sink which is why I recommend placing them once the muffins are slightly firm on the surface but not completely baked. I used a standard 12 cup muffin pan to bake these guys and you could use a smaller sized 24 cup pan as well, just make sure you divide the batter equally between the cups in the pan. You can eat these muffins warm or even at room temperature. Store them in an airtight container for up to 4 days. 

Whole grain sea salt chocolate muffin


sea salt chocolate muffins

yields: 12 muffins

ingredients 

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon dark roast instant coffee powder
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled
1 2/3 cups brown sugar
5 large eggs, chilled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used the madagascar bourbon variety)
1/2 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sea salt crystals

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and place the wire rack in the middle position. Line a standard muffin cake pan with baking cup liners. 
Mix and sift all the dry ingredients from the cocoa to the baking powder.  Transfer any grain bits back to the dry mix. Keep aside.
2. Cube the butter and transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar and fix the paddle attachment to the mixer. Cream the butter and sugar on medium low speed for 5 minutes. Add one egg at a time and beat until completely smooth.  Add the vanilla and mix for another 30 seconds on medium low speed. 
3. Add half of the sifted dry ingredients from step 1 to the creamed eggs. Mix on medium low speed until smooth and completely blended, approximately 3 minutes. Add the yogurt to the batter and beat for 1 minute. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat for another 3 minutes until completely mixed.
4. Divide the batter equally among the muffin pan cups. Bake the muffins for 12 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the salt crystals over the muffins. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes until the centers are firm to touch or skewer comes out clean from the center of the muffin. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool further.

buckwheat oatmeal raisin cookies

buckwheat oatmeal raisin cookie2

One of the many magical moments in an Indian household is tea or chai time. By some sort of strange ingrained habit we would drink tea somewhere around 4 or 5pm every evening. There would always be some sort of assortment of cookies, sweet buns, pastries, savory chips or crackers that you could dip into your hot chai. It was the equivalent of a short pre-dessert session before dinner, since we rarely ate desserts after dinner. These days however things are different, I occasionally indulge in a cup of tea in the evening and I really don't keep a stash of cookies or desserts stacked away. The big reason for this is my fondness for cookies to be fresh and warm, right out of the oven. This also means that when I do have a hankering for a cookie or two, I'll be scratching the walls of the pantry like a cat. Last week, I had such a craving for one of my favorite cookies, the oatmeal-raisin kind. The kind that's almost like a good granola bar without the excess doughy feeling yet with a crispy texture. 

Buckwheat flour and raisins

There is a special earthiness to oatmeal raisin cookies that needs to be complemented by an appropriate flour to bind and hold it together. What could be better than buckwheat? Buckwheat grain gives an amazing flour with a rich and deep earthy texture that fits perfectly in these cookies. Buckwheat is also gluten- and wheat-free making it an ideal flour substitute in most dishes for those with related allergies. I think the first time I can remember trying buckwheat was in a chilled Japanese soba salad and ever since then I've baked and cooked with frequently.

I had a hard time finding a recipe that used only buckwheat flour without the addition of any other varieties of flours. My recipe is loosely based on an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe from Alice Medrich's Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunch Melt-in-your-mouth Cookies cookbook. To add an extra level of nuttiness and flavor, I melted and browned the butter before incorporating it into the cookie batter. This is one cookie recipe where you can be a little liberal with the amounts of extra cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla. I really enjoy the taste of these cookies with a little bit of extra ginger, it seems to give the raisins a bit of a bang. Some people like walnuts in their oatmeal raisin cookies, I happened to have a few almonds stored away and I tossed them into the batter. Either nut works great in this cookie recipe.

cCookies and oatmeal

I'll be honest, I was a little impatient after I chilled the dough for about two hours. I quickly baked a few cookies to sample and taste but the results were simply just not crisp enough to my liking. I almost gave up but fortunately it was late in the evening and I figured I'd just wrap the dough and refrigerate it overnight. By the next day, the oatmeal had absorbed all the moisture in the dough and when I baked the next batch of cookies, they came out crisp and delicious. Needless to say these have turned out to be great that they've been accompanying my cup of tea every day!

Buckwheat oatmeal raisin cookie

buckwheat oatmeal raisin cookies

yields: approximately 30 cookies 

ingredients

2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger powder
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup almonds/walnuts, chopped
1 cup raisins

1. In a small bowl, place the oats and sprinkle the water. Keep aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger powder. Toss any left-over grain bits back into the flour mix. 
3. Chop the butter into cubes and melt the butter in a thick-bottomed saucepan over medium-heat. Keep heating the butter with constant stirring until the milk solids turn brownish red. Remove the browned butter from heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Briskly mix in the egg.
4. Pour the browned butter mixture into the flour mixture and combine quickly. 
5. Fold in the almonds (walnuts), raisins and the oats into the batter. Let the cookie dough rest for an hour at room temperature. Cover the bowl with cling-film and refrigerate overnight.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.
7. Scoop out 1 tablespoon of cookie dough and with your palms flatten and shape the cookies into circles around 2 inches in diameter. Place the cookies on the prepared cookie trays about 1 inch apart from each other. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Halfway during baking, rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back to ensure even baking. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack and then transfer and store in air-tight container.