Some mornings, all I want is a muffin, a deep and dark chocolate muffin with my coffee. It's really the best way for me to double my daily a.m. dose of caffeine. I like my breakfast muffins to be whole grain based, so with the desire to keep things wholesome, I added a couple of different flours to the batter. Oat bran, brown rice, and whole wheat pastry flour give the muffins a delicious flavor and lightly grainy texture.
A little bit of sea salt on the crust delivers amazing contrast. The flavors intensify, and every subsequent bite is more exciting than the first -- exactly the way I like to start my mornings.
Recipe for Nik's Sea Salt Chocolate Muffins
Makes 16 muffins
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon dark roast instant coffee powder (or instant espresso powder)
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup brown rice flour (white rice flour works, too)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
1-2/3 cups brown sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Sea salt crystals, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.
Sift the first nine dry ingredients (cocoa through kosher salt) into a large bowl. Press on any stubborn lumps to dissolve, and then tip the larger grainy bits from the sifter into the bowl. Set aside.
Place the butter and brown sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Cream on medium-low speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides once or twice. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
Turn off the mixer and add half the dry ingredients. Cover the mixer lightly with a tea towel and pulse them in, raising the speed to medium-low and beating for 3 minutes, or until smooth. Beat in the yogurt, followed by the remaining dry ingredients incorporated in the same fashion. (If you turn the mixer on medium too quickly, the dry ingredients will fly up and make a mess.) Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them all the way to the top. Bake for 12 minutes, sprinkle the tops with sea salt, then bake another 10 to 13 minutes, or until firm and a skewer poked in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Words, Recipe + Photograph © Nik Sharma