Fudgy Chocolate Ricotta Muffins

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 img_2245-2simple 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

Ingredients

Batter 

  • 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

Streusel topping 

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions

Get ready

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Line a couple muffin tins

Make your batter 

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder
  2. 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
  3. Fill your well with the melted butter, ricotta, eggs, milk and vanilla
  4. Whisk the wet ingredients within the well, until they’re mixed together
  5. 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 

  1. Whisk together the brown sugar, cocoa powder and salt
  2. 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 

  1. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full with batter
  2. 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
  3. Bake your muffins for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of a muffin. Mine took 17 minutes
  4. 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

 

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Apple Cinnamon Crumb Muffins

I don’t make enough breakfast treats. It’s just sort of hard to pull off these days. My current apartment is too small to host the seated breakfasts and brunch potlucks of yesteryear. And getting up to bake before work is… hard.

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But!  A couple of weeks ago, I did it! I woke up early on a Monday and baked these Apple Cinnamon Crumb Muffins to share with coworkers. I had a string of morning meetings that day, and thought muffins would add a nice touch. Because obviously, meetings are better with muffins.

I found this recipe when I was digging around for ways to use up a bag of Granny Smith apples. I don’t like eating Granny Smiths on their own so when I have them, they’re destined for baked goods. This was a good recipe pick, for sure. The muffins use a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour, and buttermilk helps give the batter some depth. You can mix in apple variety you have on hand. The muffins are finished with a delightful cinnamon crumb topping, adding just the right dose of sugar to complement the whole-wheat-ish base. I don’t typically stock whole wheat flour in my pantry, so I had to buy some for this recipe. Fear not: I already know what I’m going to do with the rest of the bag.

My coworkers seemed to agree that morning meetings are better with muffins, so I’ll definitely try the wake-up-to-bake routine again soon!

Apple Cinnamon Crumb Muffins

Original recipe: Two Peas and their Pod. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 24 muffins 

Equipment, pans, etc: Muffin tin 

Total Time: ~45 minutes 

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients

Muffin batter

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you can use powdered buttermilk instead of liquid buttermilk. If you do, follow your container’s instructions for the right ratio of powder to water) 
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups diced, peeled apples (I bought Granny Smith, but any tart apple would do) 

Topping

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp melted butter

Step by Step Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F
  2. Line a muffin pan with paper liners (or you can use nonstick spray!)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk your whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice. (If you’re using powdered buttermilk instead of liquid buttermilk, make sure to add your buttermilk powder during this step, too)
  4. In a small bowl, whisk your buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla. (If you’re using powdered buttermilk, now is when you’ll add the water portion!)
  5. Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula just until it’s combined. You don’t want to see any powder specks, but don’t overmix, either!
  6. Gently stir in the apples
  7. To make your crumb topping, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and melted butter in a small bowl. Mix with a spoon just until it’s crumbly–if you overmix it will turn into big clumps
  8. Pour batter into each muffin cup so they’re 3/4 full
  9. Sprinkle some crumb topping into each muffin cup
  10. Bake your muffins for about 15-20 muffins (mine took 15). The muffins should be golden in color, and a toothpick should come out clean
  11. Let muffins cool in your tin for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely