Every January 1st, I make sure to have a special breakfast. It’s a relic of childhood tradition–and a delicious tradition, at that. Growing up, we went to the Rose Parade every single New Year’s Day. We’d get up at the crack of dawn and drive to Pasadena to make sure we got a great spot on the route. The parade is a fabulous spectacle of floats and entertainment. The floats are an incredible sight: often quite complex, and completely decorated with seeds, nuts, fruits and plants.
Our tradition didn’t stop at the parade. Naturally, there were traditional foods, too. Every December 31st my mom would bake up a storm so we’d have plenty of treats to enjoy the next day. The annual menu included zucchini bread, applesauce bread and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. We’d start nibbling on the goods as soon as we sat down at the parade route, and it definitely helped time fly by as we waited for the parade to start. Beautiful floats, great bands and cookies. What’s not to like?!
I haven’t been to the Rose Parade in years, but I still think January 1st deserves a special breakfast. This year, it’s going to be these delicious, fudgy chocolate muffins. They’re simple and don’t require any special equipment… so you could probably make them even if you’re in a, well, less than perfect state come the morning of January 1st. Or, make them the day before! These keep pretty well thanks to the moisture ricotta brings to the batter.
These muffins definitely don’t fall into the genre of “muffins pretending to be healthy” (though they do use whole wheat flour). They taste a lot like cake, and look a lot like cake too. They’re dense, fudgy and moist. You add ricotta right into the batter, along with a heap of cocoa. And a streusel topping adds a crumbly bit of sugar and cinnamon to every bite.
If you can’t get to these for January 1st, fear not. They’re a great “just because” breakfast whenever you have the craving for something a little special to start your day.
Fudgy Chocolate Ricotta Muffins
Original recipe: Vegetarian Adventures. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.
Yield: ~24 muffins. The original recipe says it yields 16 but I got way more muffins out of this!
Total Time: ~45 minutes
Cook Time: 17-20 min
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup whole ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- Dash of salt
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- Preheat your oven to 350F
- Line a couple muffin tins
Make your batter
- In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. That means you want to create a little crater in the middle, so you can pour other ingredients in there–see pic below
- Fill your well with the melted butter, ricotta, eggs, milk and vanilla
- Whisk the wet ingredients within the well, until they’re mixed together
- Then, slowly start whisking your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Definitely pay heed to the “slow” direction here so cocoa doesn’t land all over your counter! Whisk just until the ingredients are mixed–overmixing leads to tough muffins (which sounds like a great rock band name, but you don’t want actual tough muffins)
Make your streusel
- Whisk together the brown sugar, cocoa powder and salt
- Using your hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients until a wet crumb has formed. The mixture should be wet and crumbly when you’re done mixing
Bake your muffins
- Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full with batter
- Sprinkle topping onto each muffin. I didn’t use all of my streusel but you definitely could if you put more streusel per muffin than I did
- Bake your muffins for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of a muffin. Mine took 17 minutes
- Transfer the muffins to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before you eat them. I liked these a lot better cooled vs. hot because the texture and taste settled a bit