A freshly baked batch of muffins is often reserved for the weekends, when we have the luxury of being able to spend some extra time in the kitchen and some extra time to drink coffee, read the paper and relax. But muffins can easily be an everyday food, especially if you make a batch that has a few health-conscious tweaks made to it, and you can bake a batch over the weekend to enjoy even on a busy weekday morning. These Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins are that everyday type of muffin. Packed with fresh mashed banana, they are made with whole wheat flour, vegetable oil and have a handful of heart-healthy nuts thrown into the batter to add a little extra texture and flavor. The muffins are moist and have that same tight, dense crumb that a traditional loaf of banana bread will have, as opposed to a light and cake-like crumb. They have a good banana flavor, accented with a hint of cinnamon and brown sugar. They muffins aren’t too sweet and you can taste the nuttiness of the whole wheat flour, which actually works well with the nuts in the muffins.
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When you have a serious chocolate craving, not just any chocolate cupcake is going to fit the bill. A batch of these Dark Chocolate Cupcakes is what you need when that kind of craving strikes. These cupcakes remind me of brownies, with their intense dark chocolate flavor. They also develop a slightly crackly top during baking, like brownies. Unlike brownies, the cupcakes are not dense and fudgy. They have a very tight and tender crumb that almost seems to melt in your mouth when you take a bite. This is definitely a go-to recipe when I’m looking for a really rich chocolate cupcake. The flavor comes from a generous amount of dark chocolate that has been melted into the batter. I typically use a dark chocolate that is around 70 or 72% cacao, but the recipe will still work with a slightly more or less dark chocolate. You’ll get a lot of chocolate flavor in the cupcakes, so be sure to use a good quality chocolate in this recipe.
These cupcakes are very versatile and can be topped off with any kind of frosting you like. Instead of sticking with chocolate or vanilla, I opted for a more fall-flavored pumpkin frosting here. Pumpkin puree by itself doesn’t necessarily have that strong of a pumpkin flavor (not strong enough that a small amount will be enough for a whole batch of frosting), so simply adding pumpkin puree to a buttercream wasn’t going to produce the flavor that I was looking for. Pumpkin puree can be a bit coarse, as well, and needs to be processed very finely or pushed through a sieve to get a silky texture. Pumpkin butter – a very smooth, sweet and intensely flavored pumpkin preserve – was the answer to my flavoring problem. A small amount of pumpkin butter packs a lot of pumpkin flavor and was the perfect way to introduce a pumpkin element to an otherwise vanilla frosting. Pumpkin butter is available at many stores around Halloween and Thanksgiving, and you can always make your own. If you can’t find it, you can use pumpkin puree that has been strained, but you will also want to add a bit of extra spice to your frosting for extra fall flavor.
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White Cinnamon Cup-cakes