Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins

photo 4I have been having some SERIOUS banana issues. I love bananas. Alot. We usually have to buy two bushels of bananas every week and we still tend to run out a day or two before it’s time to do groceries.  However, with the hot weather lately, something that most of us in this small city in Northern Ontario aren’t used to, my bananas have been ripening much faster than usual. Apparently our bananas aren’t used to the hot weather either.  I’m not a huge fan of eating over ripe bananas, as I imagine most people aren’t, but no matter how tempted I am, I never throw them out. I HATE wasting food. So I end up putting them in the freezer to save for that loaf of banana bread I’ll get around to making. Unfortunately, I have yet to make that loaf, and the bananas are piling up in my freezer.  So yesterday, when I realize that my bananas had ripened to a problematic level and were starting to attract a small hoard of fruit flies, I decided to make some muffins.  I am not putting one more damn banana in my small freezer. So, I broke up the hooligan fruit fly party in my kitchen, mashed up the bananas, and whipped up some utterly badass chocolate banana muffins with, get this, white chocolate AND milk chocolate chips. Living on the edge people. Living on the edge. That’s where the “triple chocolate” name comes form… in case you were wondering.

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I’m not even kidding when I say that these are the best muffins I’ve ever made. Or ever put in my mouth. Seriously. They’re fantastic.  And even more fantastic the next day. Since, for some reason bananas have this magical quality where when baked into something they taste a billion times better the next day. I have no idea why, nor do I care, all I know is that I had a MAJOR foodgasm when I ate one. Annnnnnd it took all my strength not to eat a second, and a third, and, well, all of them really.

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The recipe is actually quite simple, as I find most muffin recipes are.  This one requires smashed bananas (duh), oil, an egg, white and brown sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Of course, you will also need chocolate chips.  I used both white and milk chocolate chips.

I’m actually not a huge fan of baking muffins in liners, so I sprayed the crap out of my muffin tins with non-stick spray and baked the muffins right in the pans.  These muffins were super moist and really REALLY tasty. It was like a chocolate banana flavour bomb in every bite.  A variation of this recipe can be found here.

Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins

makes about 15 muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 large smashed ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Baking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.  In a mixing bowl, beat the bananas, oil and egg until well combined. Add the white and brown sugars and beat again.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Slowly combines the mixture into the wet ingredients.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
  3. Divide the batter into 15 in the muffin tins and for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Muffins should be stored out of the fridge in a sealed container.

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They are so good. Trust me. I’m getting hungry just writing about them.  In other news, Ken and I spent the weekend at camp and are planning on going back this coming weekend.  Aside from the mini heatwave last week, we’ve had nothing but cold weather and rain. Poop. Oh well, at least we have the sauna at camp to keep us warm.  We went for a super fun cliff exploring hike adventure which proved to be not only an incredible workout, but also ended with an amazing view.

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Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting


008  You want to know what my favourite smell in the whole wide work is?  Actually, I have two.  Apple cinnamon and banana bread.  I find the aroma just tantalizing.  My mouth legitimately waters.  Apple cinnamon reminds me of Christmas.  I have no idea why.  Perhaps it’s my mother’s fault.  You know those glade plug in things?  Well around Christmas she would always buy the apple cinnamon ones, and apple cinnamon candles.  Our whole house was just one big burst of apple cinnamon.  They do say that smell is the sense that is most closely linked to memory.  Plus my grandmother would always bake pies during the holidays.  I fondly remember her small house just filling with the scent of baking apples.  Fantastic.  Banana bread reminds me of the smell of a bakery.  Every time I walk into a bakery I feel that’s all I smell. Banana bread has a really comforting scent, it always makes me feel warm.  Every time we have a frightfully cold winter day (which is often since I live in Northern Ontario) or some sort of ice cold rainy fall day (again, often) I just crave banana bread.  Yesterday was really rainy and really cold.  And while I was already planning to make banana bread this week, on my way home from work yesterday, after feeling the biting wind against my skin, after getting caught in the rain on my way to my car, I said, screw it, I NEED banana bread, and I need it tonight.  So I drove to the grocery store, picked up the ingredients I knew I didn’t have at home, and got baking.  Funny thing is I didn’t actually eat any last night! Maybe I just needed the smell to comfort me against the awful, below average temperatures that we’ve been experiencing in the last few weeks.  I’m actually pretty used to the cold by now…well I should be any way, I’ve been living in this part of the province for almost 15 years, and I’ve developed somewhat of a love for the snowy weather we have.  But sometimes I just wish we could have a little more heat in the summers.

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So let’s talk banana bread.  I was very excited about this recipe.  As most of you may know, while I have developed a serious love for baking, I’ve actually only been baking since last November, not even a full year, so I haven’t actually tried a lot of different recipes in comparison to other food bloggers out there.  And, for the majority of my baking career, I was actually focusing mostly on cake and cupcake decorating.  So this is still new to me.  I have never in my life made any form of bread, dessert bread or otherwise.  In the next bit I’m hoping to create a “baking bucket list” if you will, perhaps including things like pastries, and paninis, and different types of breads and muffins and dessert bars! But for now, I’m sharing with you my first ever bread baking experience.  And…it actually went pretty smooth.  While I’m not sure if I’m ready to venture out on my own and create my own recipes (yet) I’m getting really good at measuring properly, folding ingredients, and mixing ingredients.  I know that sounds funny “Kelsey, all you have to do is follow the damn recipe!”  But it’s not quite that simple you know.  Some things you scoop, some things you pour, some things you use a mixer, some things you don’t, some things require folding, while others mixing.  Like I keep saying, again and again, Cooking is an Art, Baking is Chemistry.  It’s Precise. My favourite part about baking is how many different things there are to make, how many different versions of things you can make.  By simply changing one ingredient, you can change the entire recipe, the entire taste.  It’s like I’m an evil genius creating fantastic new evil things every single evil day! Muahahahahahah evil laugh.  And by evil, I mean awesome, and by genius, I mean baking genius.  Lately I have been getting all my recipes from Sally’s Baking Addiction, and there is a reason for that…all of her recipes are totally awesome and I can’t get enough of them!  This banana bread recipe is one that is from her recipe index.  You can find the link here     

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Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 1 loaf. Store bread in the refrigerator (covered) for up to 7 days. Frost right before serving. Banana bread tastes best on day 2 after the flavors have settled together. Unfrosted banana bread freezes well, up to 2 months.

Ingredients

Banana Bread009
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed (or dark brown sugar)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt, plain or vanilla)
  • 2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 large very ripe bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered (confectioners’) sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1/8 teaspoons salt, or as needed
  • chopped pecans to sprinkle on top, optional

Baking Directions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Lightly spray a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Make the bread: Using a hand-held or stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed, about 3 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the yogurt, mashed bananas and vanilla on medium speed for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the mixer if using a stand mixer. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together until combined. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Slowly stir everything together until no more flour pockets remain. Do not overmix. Fold in the pecans.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 60-65 minutes, loosely covering the bread with aluminum foil at the 30 minute mark. This will prevent the top and sides from getting too brown. A toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf will come out clean when the bread is done. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
  5. Make the frosting: beat the softened cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until soft, creamy, and combined thoroughly. Add powdered sugar and beat until thick and combined. Add milk and beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes. Add more powdered sugar until desired thickness is reached. Add salt to taste. I a quick shake of salt to cut the sweetness.
  6. Spread the frosting on the cooled banana bread. There may be some frosting leftover depending how thick you layer it on top. Sprinkle with additional pecans, if desired.

Clearly this is not me following a “healthier baking” promise I made to myself. So..I decided to calculate the calories. Do you want to know? I don’t think you do. Lets just say I left a lot of room in MyFitnessPal today for this bread.  A lot. I managed to cut the bread into 16 pieces, meaning each slice is 325 calories… I think I’ll be going for a jog tonight…well, probably not, but yikes! Oh well, enjoy anyways! Have that extra piece, enjoy those extra calories! This banana bread is well worth it.  Happy Baking!

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Apple Pie Muffins

010I am so excited that I have holidays coming up. After today, I will officially only have 9 full days left of work until I can enjoy a full week off, away from work, housework, and my cellphone.  I am planning on spending my week at camp with Ken, but not before spending a night or two at Summerfest to watch The Sheepdogs perform.  It’s just getting harder and harder to wake up in the morning. I’m in serious need of a vacation.  

I am still on my quest to find some great healthy dinner ideas, and was forwarded a few blog addresses yesterday that will surely help this pursuit.  One of my favourite summer salads in the whole world is my Summer Spinach Salad.  It has loads of fresh strawberries and blueberries, dried cranberries and chopped walnut halves, and is topped with Kraft Raspberry Vinaigrette salad dressing and goats’ cheese.  Last night I had it with my go-to salmon recipe, that has a balsamic marinade and is seasoned with garlic and red pepper flakes.  Pretty tasty, and I promise I’ll share the recipe once I’ve perfected it.

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So let’s talk muffins.  Miss Sally strikes again!  I totally fell in love with her Sky High Apple Pie Muffins.  They are so good! You know the kind of muffin that you buy in a bakery? or a coffee shop? They’re super tall and round and fantastic.  Well these are pretty much it. Except for one HUGE difference. They’re around 200 calories, compared to your average muffin, which are generally around 350 to 500 calories. Yikes! What the heck do they put in those things???  The original recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction says that this recipe yields 12 muffins, however, I overdid the amount 011of diced apples that I put in the batter so I actually got 16 out of the mix. Always exciting.  This time when I attempted to make these “sky high domed muffins” I think I did it right, compared to my Skinny Double Chocolate Chip Muffins where I overmixed the batter. I skipped the stand mixer on this one and did it all by hand.  I was careful to get out all the flour pockets, but once it was all mixed together, I stopped,  and once in the oven, the muffin tops soared creating fantastically fluffy, high domed muffins.  The trick with the high domed muffins is the initial high baking temperature of 425F degrees.  After the muffins bake in this temperature for 5 minutes, the heat is decreased to 375F degrees (keeping them in the  oven while the temp is reduced) and then they are cooked for an additional 15-18 minutes.  It’s also important to have a thick batter (spoonable, not pourable) and that the muffin tins be filled to the top.  I’m super proud of myself that I didn’t over mix the batter as this has been one of my major faults with baking.  016

So what’s over mixing? Most recipes in terms of baked goods like cakes, muffins, and cookies involve stirring your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, etc.) in to your wet ingredients.  When the flour is mixed around and exposed to the wet ingredients it start to develop gluten, a protein that helps bind your ingredients together, but can also give baked goods a firm and elastic structure – not always great in cakes, muffins or any type of pastry.  So, do the minimum amount of mixing necessary.  Get all the flour pockets out by ensuring that there are no streaks coming out in your batter.  Or, if you’re mixing in things like fruit, chocolate chips, or other add-ins, mix until there are only a few streaks left to ensure the minimum amount of mixing – you’re going to have to fold in your add-ins so the batter will still get mixed up.

The healthy good for you ingredients in this recipe include fat free, apple flavoured greek yogurt and unsweetened applesauce (in lieu of oil), white whole wheat flour, and rolled oats in the streusal topping.  So yummy!! These is both brown and white granulated sugar in this recipe.  I was super close to trying it with brown sugar from Splenda (I think it’s essentially the same, but sweeter so you can use less), but I figured I’d best stick to Sally’s recipe for the first go so that’s I’d have a recipe to rave about the next day.  

In terms of the type of apple I chose for this recipe, I decided to go with a Cripps Pink apple.  These apples are juicy and sweet, and I found these apples really kept their shape while baking.  I’ve used other apples in the past and I’ve found once in the oven, that they lose their shape and essentially, “become one with the better”.  I don’t know about you, but I want apple chunks in my muffins. So I chose an apple that would likely not break down too much once cooked.

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Sky High Apple Pie Muffins

makes 12-16 muffins. 196 calories per serving.  muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.  I found the muffins tasted better the second day once the flavours had settled.  

Ingredients

to make the muffin

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour (or white all-purpose flour)
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup almond milk (or soy or regular)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp fat free apple yogurt (or vanilla or plain)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 heaping cups chopped apple (cored + peeled, if you prefer peeled chunks – I did not peel mine)

to make the Oat Streusel Topping

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Baking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Prepare oat streusel topping by mixing everything together until the mixture resembles course crumbs.  Set  aside.
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  3. Prepare the muffins: in a large bowl combine the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set aside.
  4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the milk, sugars, yogurt, apple sauce, eggs, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Gently fold wet mixture into the flour, stirring until *just combined* – do NOT overmix. Gently fold in the apples.
  5. Spoon the batter into 12 muffin tins, making sure each one is filled to the very top.  Sprinkle reserved oat streusel topping over each muffin. (bake any additional muffins separately, adding water to the empty muffin spots to ensure even baking)
  6. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees, then immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 *note that I was able to divide the batter itself over 16 muffin tins, but I had to make more of the Oat Streusel topping (I halved the recipe) for the additional 4 muffins. That additional topping is included in my calorie estimation.

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T hanks to these muffins, I totally broke my “only one muffin a day” rule.  But in all seriousness I didn’t mean to eat it.  I was going to save it fro breakfast the next day…. but it just smelled so great.  For some reason the smell of baked apples and cinnamon reminds me of Christmas. I was feeling a little nostalgic so I broke down and ate one…in my defense I ate the smallest one I could find, or what looked like the smallest anyway.  I urge you to try this it is fantastic and very easy (like most of Sally’s recipes).  Like I said, I have found some pretty fantastic blogs over the past few days, and a lot of them focus on healthy eating (which I think we could all use every now and then).  Be sure to visit Sally’s Baking Addiction for more healthy recipes! Happy Baking!!

Skinny Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

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I just spent a fantastic weekend on the lake at my boyfriend’s family’s camp.  While it’s nice to be home, having to bring myself back to reality after a weekend of saunas, swimming, and sunshine is a bit of a bummer… I love long weekends, don’t get me wrong, but having to say goodbye to my home away from home was quite depressing…today is Monday, which means tomorrow is the beginning of another work week, a short work week, but a work week nonetheless.  I am already itching to be back to that tree covered slice of heaven, where cell reception is minimal and food preparation involves a barbecue and paper plates.  This summer the weather has been slightly uncooperative; we had a tumultuous heat wave that left me sluggish and slothful in my blistering apartment, minimal movement and cooking was key here, and now our weather is, while mostly comfortable, a little on the chilly side.  The wind has been incredibly cool for this time of year, leaving me feeling as though fall is quickly approaching.  I predict that we will likely be facing another long winter. Blah!121

Whenever my boyfriend and I return from camp we’re usually lazy and our nights often include netflix, video games, and sleep.  I have no intention of cooking a big fancy schmancy dinner, and I certainly have no intention of doing dishes (thank god my father is spending the weekend with us – he is a dish washing champion, thanks dad!).  Anyway, my lack of motivation to turn on my oven usually leads us to two options: take out, or homemade pizza.  While I love me a good hot pressed wrap from one of our local eats, I’ve always been a pizza girl.  Fat Tuesday’s has been my first choice lately, but I still love a good homemade pizza, and that’s been my go to rather than order in – it actually takes way less time, it’s super cheap, and honestly I think it might even taste better…plus I don’t get a belly ache from all the grease I’d be ingesting if I did order in.  

025I usually purchase a pizza crust from our local independent grocer if we’re planning to go to camp for the weekend so that I can have the ingredients I need at home to make the pizza – I use Molinaro’s Supremo Deep Dish Pizza Crust – it comes with 2 crusts and 2 packs of sauce.  Don’t knock the pre-made stuff! I know there is often so much taboo with ready made meals, any many swear that from scratch meals are the only way to go – but I also think that easy and convenient are the way to go, especially if I am reluctant to put much effort into my dinner.  Besides, I’m adding all my own toppings…so I’m pretty confident I can label this as homemade.  For my toppings, I add the sauce (duh), and then I throw a layer of chopped spinach on top.  I add chopped mushrooms, lots of jalapenos, and then feta and bacon.  I top it with a layer of four cheese Italiano cheese and Maple Leaf Naturals pre-cut pepperoni slices.  Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, broil for 2 minutes, and then presto! Done! I let the pizza cool for 3 to 5 minutes, slice and serve.  Sounds pretty fantastic right?  It so easy and takes no time!  Now, wait until you hear what I made for dessert.  So lets talk muffins.

So I couldn’t help myself…when I got home from camp this afternoon I was itching to make another skinny muffin! I am not through my list of healthy bakes that I want to create, and I thought, hey…it will only take 1/2 hour of my time, why not?  So I got baking.  I did a quick scan of the ingredients in my cupboards, and settled on Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Skinny Double Chocolate Chip Muffins.

What makes these muffins healthy? Some of the wet ingredients include unsweetened applesauce, sugar, and honey.  There is only 1/2 cup of sugar for the entire dozen muffins you get out of this recipe, and the honey sweetens the rest.  The applesauce is a great substitution for fat, and paired with the Greek yogurt it helps keep the muffins nice and moist, eliminating the need for fats like oil or butter.  I used 2 egg whites instead of one large egg – this keeps the fat content down.  There is 4.5 g of fat in one large egg yolk, and 0.1 g of fat in one eggs white. Yikes! What a difference!  This also brings the calorie content down slightly.

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The one thing I absolutely LOVED about these muffins was the moist ewey gooey-ness thanks to the yummy chocolate chips…I had my first bite while the muffin was still relatively warm and fresh out of the oven. It was soooo good! If you have them again the next day, I recommended tossing them in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up again.  Its sooo goood. And, just to remind you one more time, these are low fat, low sugar, and low calorie, with a whopping 137 calories per muffin.  Now that’s not so bad is it?

Just one more thing I want to point out – these muffins have an initial baking temperature of 425F degrees, and then after 5 minutes, the muffins are cooked at 375F degrees for an additional 13 minutes.  Why?  This helps make high domed muffins. Now, I’m not 100 percent on if I did this correctly, according to Sally’s instructions, overmixing the batter is a BIG NO NO.  I feel I may have done this…ouuups. Some of my muffins turned out a little flat, but they still looked a little higher than the ones I’ve baked before, so next time, I will skip my stand mixer and fold in the ingredients by hand to get a thicker, lumpier batter. You want a spoonable batter, not a pourable batter.  Filing the muffins tins to the top is also a must, the more batter, the more likely you will produce a high domed, fluffy muffin.

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Skinny Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 12 muffins. 137 calories per serving. Muffins stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Muffins freeze well up to 3 months: heat up for 1 minute after frozen.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large egg whites (or 1 large egg)
  • 3/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt, plain or vanilla)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, plus a few more for sprinkling on top

Baking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray. Do not use liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine applesauce, sugar, honey, egg whites, greek yogurt, and vanilla extract. Whisk them all together until smooth, with no yogurt lumps remaining.
  3. Sift the flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. Slowly stir in the wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Get any dry pockets of flour out. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. The batter will be a little chunky. This is ok.
  4. Divide the batter evenly amount 12 liners – fill them all the way to the top if you can. Bake for 5 minutes at 425F. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the temperature down to 375 and continue to bake for 13 more minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of one muffin. If it comes out clean, they are done. If not, bake for only 2 more minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Literally thought my boyfriend died and went to heaven when he bit into one of these bite sized chocolate bundles of fantasticness.

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I urge you to make these – you will not be disappointed!! Next weekend Ken and I will once again find ourselves at camp – rain or shine!  I’m really unsure of what the next baking creation will be – but I will post before I leave captivity.  I think this weekend I may try to make some fall off the bone, finger licking good ribs, possibly with a homemade sauce if I can find the time. Yummmmy!! Happy Baking!
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Skinny Chocolate Chip Fruit Explosion Muffins

007I just had to bake another batch of muffins this week…just one more.  I know..I’m going a little crazy.  I can’t help it! I had WAAAAYYY too much caffeine this morning. Thanks to my DIY friendship mug I made, I filled it up twice…that’s a lot of coffee.  When I came home this evening I got a crazy burst of energy and baked up a storm. I just really need to find the perfect combination of flavours, all baked into a little muffin of goodness.  This batch is kind of similar to one that I’ve already made, my Chocolate Chip Strawberry Muffins that I grabbed of Sally’s Baking Addiction, but with one huge difference: They are not chocolate chip strawberry, they are chocolate chip raspberry blueberry! And oh my goodness. Are they ever good!  I think I like them more than the chocolate chip strawberry, and I actually think I like them more than the Tropical Muffins I made the other day.  This muffin is like an explosion of flavour in my mouth…hence the name chocolate chip fruit explosion.  I bit into this muffin, and my mouth literally exploded. With awesomeness. In a good way.

So let’s talk muffins.  You know what drives me nuts? When people say – “Hey, cool, you made cupcakes”, and I’m like, “Oh no, they’re muffins.” and then they’re all “Pff. Whateves. Same thing.”  No my friends! They are not the same. They are soooooo not the same! But then they’re like, “Well what’s the difference?” So what is the difference exactly?  My usual response is, well….cupcakes are cake. And muffins are… so wait what are muffins? Are they bread?  I would move more towards bread…but there’s no yeast? So would they be a bread product? Quick and dirty – cupcakes have icing and muffins do not.  However…going into more detail we can see that there are other differences. “A basic formula for muffins is 2 cups flour, 2-4 tablespoons sugar, 2½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 egg, ¼ cup oil, shortening or butter and 1 cup milk. When the fat, sugar and egg ratio in a recipe reaches double or more than this, you have reached the cake level.” (Thanks Diana’s Desserts!) So I think I’m going to stick with “cupcakes are cake, while muffins are more like a bread with additions like fruits and chocolate chips.”

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So before I made my next batch of muffins I thought…what are some of my favourite fruits? How can I turn these strawberry chocolate chip muffins into something super duper fantastic.  So I thought about it. I love Strawberries…but I LOVE Blueberries. Aside from bananas, they are my favourite fruit. And raspberries are great with blueberries. And they are also one of my favourites…. okay I just love, love, LOVE fruit. I see another tropical form of muffin – you know, maybe throw in some mango with the orange zest and banana. Yikes – my mouth is already watering.

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Alright so back to the muffins – again, these are a spin off from my Chocolate Chip Strawberry Muffins.  The only difference is that instead of the 2/3 cups strawberries I used raspberries, and then added 1/3 cup blueberries.  Now I’ve made blueberry muffins before…and used frozen blueberries…my muffins turned out COMPLETELY BLUE.  It was weird…weird looking. I didn’t post those pictures or the recipe…but I will reattempt and I promise it will make appearance here at some point. So I cannot stress enough… USE FRESH FRUIT. The blueberries… some of them explode and when you bite into the muffin, it’s like a blast of fruity goodness.  Trust me. Always fresh over frozen.  Now just like my Strawberry Muffins, these are 140 calories per serving.  My diet appreciates that…but I’m also eating muffins galore so maybe everything is just balancing itself out? Something like that… they’re just so damn good!

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Skinny Chocolate Chip Fruit Explosion Muffins

makes 10 muffins, 140 calories per serving

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 2/3 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Baking Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray 10 muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, gently toss the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and applesauce until together until no brown sugar lumps remain – a fork works well to break up the brown sugar here. Add the beaten egg white until fully incorporated. Add the wet ingredients to the dry until just combined – do not over mix.  Fold in the raspberries, blueberries and chocolate chips.
  • Divide the batter evenly between 10 muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Muffins will be lightly golden in color and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. Mine took about 19 minutes. Allow muffins to cool and enjoy.

Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to seven days and can be frozen.

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Skinny Tropical Muffins

004Want to know what I made today? Another batch of Skinny Muffins! This time, however, they were tropical flavoured. Yes, tropical is a flavour.  When I say tropical, I mean they have banana, pineapple, oranges, and coconut in them! Oh my goodness they are so fantastic.  Miss Sally strike again! Yet another recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, and I found a lot more that I’m intending to make in the next few weeks, including Skinny Double Chocolate Chip Muffins, Sky High Apple Pie Muffins..and…wait for it…homemade Cinnamon  Buns. Yes people, I, Kelsey Bakes, am going to make Cinnamon Buns…from scratch…with yeast and everything…and like…I’m going to knead the dough. I’m actually kindof nervous, so I’m not going to tell anybody that I’m making them, just in case I mess up and have to throw the entire batch out.  I have found some helpful kneading tips online, but you never know, I may drop the ball and totally destroy them.   So as many of you know, a few days ago I stumbled across a Skinny Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe, and I couldn’t resist making them.  So naturally I had to try the others as well, and the tropical muffins were first on my list. I think my co-workers will be elated thanks so the copious amounts of muffins I will be bringing in over the next few weeks.  So let’s talk muffins.  Does anyone remember my first attempts at baking muffins?  The first was Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins, which turned out well, but were a little tough, I believe I had very under ripe bananas and may have over mixed the batter a little bit.  The second attempt was Apple Muffins…and with that baking attempt, I learned how to measure flour correctly….don’t scoop, pour. I renamed these Apple Muffins to Mini Apple Crumble Cakes.  Di you know that by scooping your flour instead of pouring it (my pouring I mean spooning it into a measuring cup and then leveling with a knife) that you can use 150% of the recommended flour?? Fun fact.  Anyway, I’m really impressed with how these muffins turned out and I love how the last ones turned out….so that must mean I’m getting better at baking and following recipes! Right??? Right.

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These muffins are low fat, low sugarAND whole wheatAnd, AND. Guess what else?  Only 140 calories!  I know…I had to double check after my calculator read that number.  So my first step was to ripen some bananas. Yes. I had to ripen them. Bananas don’t last long enough in my house for them to do that by themselves.  I went to my local grocery store I bought some fresh organic bananas, as the non-organics were way under ripe…most of them were still green! At least the organics had some brown on them.  I then proceeded to microwave them.. I poked a few holes through the banana peel , and tossed them in for about three minutes.  The instructions that I googled said about 1.5 minutes, but my microwave is so old that it often takes twice the amount of time to heat things up than the instructions indicate.  Woohoo, life of a student! Okay, I can’t actually use that one anymore but I did buy it when I was a student, and refuse to give it up until the damn thing croaks.

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Much like most other low cal, low fat, or low sugar recipes, this one uses honey to sweeten it up (with 1/2 cup of lightly packed brown sugar).  The greek yogurt is an excellent substitute for oil and will help keep the muffins moist (with help from the bananas of course).  It also uses white whole wheat flour.  The creator of this recipe (Miss Sally) does not recommend using 100% whole wheat flour as it can make the muffin tough.  I decided not to argue and of course, followed the recipe pretty closely.  The only thing I changed was my cook time.  I have a very old oven..I wish I could get a new one..you know, with even baking all over, zero hot spots, a convection oven would be splendid.  But hey, it was free.  It was free and came with free hot spots.  I have to rotate my muffins in the last few minutes so that they’ll actually cook all the way through.  Anyway. The baking recommendations are 325F degrees for about 18 minutes.  I baked mine at 350F degrees for about 22 minutes.  I used the toothpick test to determine when to pull them. And they just weren’t all cooked at 18 minutes, even at 350F Degrees.

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Skinny Tropical Muffins

makes 15 muffins, 140 calories per serving.  muffins can be stored at room temperature for up to five days.  muffins taste best the next day.  these muffins freeze well, up to 3 months.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (I used 3 small organic)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat vanilla greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • zest from 1 orange (do not skip this!!!)
  • 1 1/4 cup fresh pineapple, diced
  • 1 thinly sliced banana for topping
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (I used much less than this, just enough to say it was sprinkled on)

Baking Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Spray 15 muffin tins with nonstick spray. Set aside. **Note, that oven temperatures may vary.  I baked at 350F degrees for 22 minutes.  Do not use cupcake liners, as the muffins will stick to them.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together.  Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, mix the honey and brown sugar together – it will be thick and lumpy. Try to get out as many lumps as you can – a fork works well to break it up. ** I used my stand mixer for this part – it blended very quickly and I had no issues with consistency. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, and beaten egg. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently begin to fold it all together. It will be very thick. Add the milk slowly and continue to gently mix the ingredients together. The milk will thin everything out, but the batter will still remain thick. Fold in the orange zest and pineapple. Do not overmix the batter, which will lend tough, dry muffins

4, Divide the batter between 15 muffin tins.  Fill them all the way to the top.  Top each muffin with thin slices of the sliced banana, and a sprinkle of the shredded coconut.  Bake the first 12, then the last three in another batch. Fill the empty muffin tins halfway with water in the 2nd batch to ensure even baking. **love this idea! Bake for 17-18 minutes until very lightly browned on the edges.  **Again, oven temperatures will vary, always do the toothpick test before removing your treats and never start checking until the minimum recommended baking time has past.  Allow the muffins to cool completely.

006And there you have it friendlies!! Skinny Tropical Muffins.  You can find the original recipe here. The recipe was actually simple enough, and didn’t take much time to prepare and bake.  I give taste 10/10..these were fantastic and had a really unique flavour to them.  I never thought tropical muffins would be a thing…but indeed they are.  I like how different muffins can turn out, just by adding or changing a few simple ingredients.  I cannot wait to try more!

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So who would have thought that I would more over to the dark side of healthy bakes and skinny treats?!  I am loving how little time these recipes are taking me.  I have to admit, there were a few moments in the past month while I was busy creating nifty cakes that I thought I was losing my passion for baking.  These cakes and cupcakes started taking SO much work and consuming so much of my time, that I didn’t have time for anything else – but I’m loving that I have started this again.  Stay tuned for more fantastic recipes!! I cannot wait to test them out and then share.  Happy Baking!!!

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Skinny Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

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The other day I started poking around for some new blogs to follow.  I found a little gem, Sally’s Baking Addiction, that I discovered while exploring the baking world on Facebook, and I came across some FANTASTIC muffin recipes. I know, I know, I did mention that I probably wouldn’t be baking for a while, but it’s been a month since I baked any sweet treats and I got an itch to throw on my apron and get in the kitchen, especially since these muffins looked so damn good.  If you get a chance please, please, please check out her site, her recipes are drool-worthy.  

So anyone who knows me know that I am not a huge fan in calorie cutting when it comes to baking.  To me, baking means flour, oil, and sugar, and lots of it.  Reduced calorie baking just never seems right to me, and never tastes quite the same.  Anyone who knows me will also know that I am a stress eater, and after a, well, slightly more than stressful year, I may or may not be fitting quite right in my fave skinny jeans…and by not fitting in them right I mean I can’t get the damn things past my thighs. No worries, I’m working on it, but I have raised the white flag and surrendered in my fight against my bikini… I am now allied with it’s foe, the tankini.  So I was surprised when I came across Miss Sally’s blog, and saw a whole wack of low fat and low sugar baking options.  I was skeptical at first, but I thought, what the hell, my waist line isn’t getting any smaller, and Miss Sally promised that the taste was not compromised.  So, therein lies the story of my first low calorie baking effort: Skinny Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins.

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Let me just say, that these muffins are 140 calories each. Yes, you heard me right.  Another great thing about these muffins is that they are made with only 8 simple ingredients, AND they are a small batch recipe, making only 10 muffins.  I enjoy this because I am in a two person household, and there are only so many muffins I can force feed my boyfriend before they go bad.  I also love that these muffins are so versatile.  You can change the strawberries to blueberries, or maybe banana chunks? cranberries?  I opted to follow her recipe pretty closely, although I added a small banana slice to the top of the muffin for a little extra.

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So what makes these muffins so low fat? The recipe calls for unsweetened applesauce instead of butter or oil.  There is no real fat source in this muffin, but by adding the applesauce the moisture won’t be compromised.  I may try a few of her other skinny recipes in the next few weeks, or perhaps even switch this one up, and maybe the lesser calories will give me the kick I need to get back into gear and shed this 15 pounds I wish could just melt off of me.  You can find the full recipe here.

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Skinny Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

makes 10 muffins, 140 calories per serving

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 2/3 cup diced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Baking Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray 10 muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, gently toss the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and applesauce until together until no brown sugar lumps remain – a fork works well to break up the brown sugar here. Add the beaten egg white until fully incorporated. Add the wet ingredients to the dry until just combined – do not overmix. Fold in the strawberries and chocolate chips.
  • Divide the batter evenly between 10 muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Muffins will be lightly golden in color and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. Mine took about 18 minutes. Allow muffins to cool and enjoy.

Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to seven days and can be frozen.

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Pretty simple recipe right? It took me about 10 minutes to prepare everything, maybe less, and 18 minutes cook time – very quick and easy, not a recipe that would consume the better part of my day. Up next I will attempt Sally’s Skinny Tropical Muffins, and possibly even her Skinny Chocolate Banana Fudge Muffins.  Apparently, low fat or low sugar treats can mean tasty and flavourful; I am no longer skeptical.  These muffins were moist and tasted amazing! I couldn’t even tell that they were low fat. So take 30 minutes out of your day and bake some Skinny Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins. Happy Baking!!

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When you’re reminded that you’re still a baking amateur…

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So today I’m going to talk about a few things, and this is the novice baker in me talking.  But lately, I’ve noticed a lot of the recipes I’ve been making are extremely dry.  I’m noticing this now because I’ve been focusing on cupcake and cake decorating, and I haven’t really had to make a lot of things from scratch.  I noticed this with the baking I was doing around Christmas time (I associated it to over mixing because I had never baked anything in my life and had no idea what I was doing), but last weeks recipes as well, while great, could have used a little extra wet ingredients.  But what the heck is causing this?  So I googled, and as usual, google came through to me.  So google, why I ask, are my muffins and cookies and other recipes coming out drier than I would like? Do tell. Google: Well Kelsey, according to this lovely user on yahoo answers, “A lot of times people don’t know how to properly measure flour. You should first loosen your flour with a spoon or butter knife by stirring it around. Then take a spoon and just start spooning it into your measuring device. Do not Pack it down or it will add too much flour causing your product to become dry or hard.” So now you tell me!  So I do this. All the time. With every recipe I make.  So people, do not pack down your flour. Apparently it makes a huge difference.  And, I would assume this is the same for Icing sugar as well, which would explain why I have to add so much cream to my buttercream frosting while icing my cupcakes.  So lesson learned, I Kelsey the Baker, promise I will never pack my sugar ever again.

Today I went with apple and brown sugar muffins.  I did not discover the “flour packing epiphany” until after I tossed them in the oven, so forgive me.  But as I was shopping this morning for my baking ingredients, I stopped in the produce aisle, completely confused.  I stood before rows and rows of different types of apples.  So…my question…what type of apples are best for baking?  Are some better than others?  Should some be avoided?  I attempted a quick google in the store but it was busy and the old woman behind me didn’t appreciate my stopping in the middle of the aisle while having an apple related panic attack.  So I settled on Spartans, just because I know they’re on the sweeter side, and I went on my merry way, making a mental note to do further research once I was home.  So apparently I wasn’t wrong, the only real warning I got from the articles I read was to not bake with red delicious apples.  The most important thing to consider when using apples in a recipe is the texture of the apple, and whether or not the apple will be able to retain it’s shape while sitting in the over for an extended period of time.  I read a lot of articles that mentioned granny smith as a great apple for pie, and it apparently tastes great when mixed with MacIntosh apples.  Something too sweet can cause your recipe to taste too sugary, since most recipes already contain a great deal of sugar.  So I think next time I may hit up granny smith, but the one thing that was consistent in every blog, article and website I visited was to experiment.  Try different apples and different combinations of apples to find your favourites.  And, since my apple muffins were more like an apple crumble, I think I will reattempt this recipe at a later date to see how they turn out.

Here’s the original recipe, from the girl who ate everything, but I’m changing the name to “mini apple crumble cakes” and we can all assume I did this on purpose.  Okay? Okay.

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Mini Apple Crumble Cakes

yield: 24 cakes (but possibly up to 30…I had some extra batter left over after I filled my cupcake pans)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour (packed)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups peeled, cored, diced apples (around 3 apples)
  • Brown sugar for topping (around 1/2 cup)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Cream together sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix until combined. The batter will be very thick. Add the diced apples.
  3. Fill paper liners almost to the top, about 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-24 minutes.

So mini apple crumble cakes…Not bad right?  Who doesn’t want to have apple crumble with their coffee in the afternoon?  It actually tastes pretty great, and I’m sure in muffin form they would have been even more fabulous.  I will attempt them again in the future! Happy Baking!

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Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

This week I decided to move away from cupcakes and cake decorating and focus on some good old fashion comfort food.  I love banana bread.  Its so wonderful.  It reminds me of grandma’s house, and school bake sales, and small corner delis that sell pastries and desserts.  But what I love even more is banana muffins…because it almost tastes like banana bread…but….in the shape of a cupcake.  How fun is that? I had a bit of a tough week.  I’ve been puppy sitting for my boyfriend’s parents while they’re away, so I’ve been getting less sleep than usual, and my car has officially passed away.  I’m hoping I can find someone to revive her but I’m not willing to fork out the cash so she’s comatose for now.  Which brings me to my next reason for making something other than cupcakes – no car means no grocery store, which means I had to make do with the ingredients I had at home.  I stared at the tasty looking bananas on my counter and thought…hmmmmm I could totally make banana muffins.  So I did.  However, half way through my baking adventure I realized that, while banana muffins would be really comforting on this fine snowy Sunday afternoon, it’s just not enough…I could go for some chocolate too.  And there in lies how I came to the conclusion that chocolate chip banana muffins would be the perfect “It’s Sunday afternoon, you’re exhausted and a puppy just pooped on your duvet, and you don’t have a car so you have to buy a buss pass, and tomorrow is Monday and Mondays really suck, and could that be a cold coming on?” kinda day.  I got this recipe from browneyedbaker, but added in the chocolate chips as this is just a banana muffin recipe, and I desperately needed the chocolate.  God.  I’m gaining weight thinking about this… anyways.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil…since that’s literally all I had at home)
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed (I used a potato masher to break down the bananas)
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions

Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend.

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Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend.  Stir in the banana.  Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

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Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake the muffins on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack and cool slightly. The muffins may be eaten warm or cooled completely and frosted…or any way really. They are fabulous.

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I also was feeling really productive yesterday, despite my irritation towards my car, monday, my poopy duvet, my looming cold, and just in general my overall needyness, so I decided to make…wait for it…some chocolate chip cookies! I will post it later this week.  They turned out quite well, however I may make some changes to them if I make them again.  For those of you who know me, you know that I am somewhat of a geek, I love video games and often disappear for weeks when I find one I like.  So…my boyfriend and I designed a Mario themed gaming room…I’ll also post those pictures later this week! It turned out amazing I’m so excited to show it off.