So I know this post was supposed to be about peanuts and squirrels and life and was actually meant to go up on Valentine's Day, but stuff happens (like a broken in two places toe), so it will be the next post. Instead, I have to tell you about some gluten-free chocolate muffins I made a while back; I meant to post these before now because I wanted Béa of La Tartine Gourmande to see what she'd started in this house, and the Monthly Mingle deadline is today too so bombs away.
Before I say anything else, let me state a couple of things: 1) No I'm not turning into a gluten-free baker, if there's anything I love in life besides my family, it's gluten; I just haven't posted many gluten-free recipes here but 2) I do have gluten-intolerant friends and friends with food allergies (this is for you Chlōe) so I do like to keep some recipes on hand to bake for them when I need to, plus if the flavor and texture you're trying to recreate is not incredibly complex, it's not difficult to substitute in gluten-free flours without noticing the difference.
Anyway, we're constantly in boxes here, packing, unpacking, packing, unpacking; so if you can believe it, I found a 1Kg bar of Varhona chocolate in one of the boxes a few weeks ago which I had purchased at La Grande Epicerie in Paris back when I was pregnant, and though it hadn't actually gotten old even though the use by date was October 2009, I felt I owed it to our bellies and general well-being to use it as quickly as possible; also, it's cold which everyone knows is perfect chocolate weather. You will be seeing more results of this massive chocolate usage in forthcoming posts, but let's stick to the muffins for now.
Although I could have, say, with a cake like this one, I didn't want to use a huge amount of the bar for only one recipe. Really, I wanted to faire durer le plaisir as we say in French, which means to make the pleasure last (somehow in its Gallic form it's a little more expressive of that wish), so I went hunting for chocolate-loaded (but not too much) recipes and remembered that Béa had written a post about chocolate muffins not long before and that there was another chocolate muffin recipe lurking somewhere in her archives. The older muffin recipe, having melted chocolate rather than cocoa in it, won out.
And oooh, how it won out, let me tell you...I made them plain, I made them with bananas, I made them with apples, I made them with pears which were my favorite. And since I didn't have flours like quinoa or amaranth readily available, I thought I'd try a milled organic seed mix from Linwoods which we'd all received in our FBC goodie bags, having seen Deeba use it successfully for macarons.
They were so incredibly delicious, I made batch after batch after batch; so many in fact, that I had to start giving them away almost as fast as I was making them, causing us to go calling on everyone we remotely knew, lest we ate them all and A. turned into a Punjabi chocolate bar with all of the other chocolate things coming out of the kitchen as well.
They're perfect for an afternoon snack, practical to take with you on a picnic or just around the corner to a friend's for tea. If you get a chance, try making them with milled seeds or nut meal instead of regular flour, I guarantee it gives them a lovely nutty sort of flavor (even if you don't use nuts) and it gives you the impression that you're really doing your health a favor (just don't think about the butter, sugar, etc...). As I've said, they already caused us to mingle, but just because they do have chocolate and are sort of like bread -muffins are a bread product, right? right?- I'm sending them over to my friend Jamie who is hosting this edition of the Monthly Mingle with a theme of bread and chocolate.
Next post I promise to tell you about the park with the crazy squirrels, and since I never do anything in chronological order it seems, I'll talk about Valentine's Day too, but for a special reason.
Gluten-free Pear Chocolate Muffins with Maple or Chocolate Mascarpone Icing
adapted from Béatrice Peltre's recipe at La Tartine Gourmande
Makes about 9-10 muffins
For the muffins:
110g (1 cup) milled flaxseed, sunflower and pumpkin seeds (Linwoods) or nut meal
1/2 tsp salt (I use Maldon salt)
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
100g (7 Tbsp) unsalted butter, chopped into chunks (as in preferably not left as one stick)
3 large eggs
100g (1/2 cup) unrefined sugar (sometimes I used light brown, sometimes dark brown, sometimes blond)
2 pears, peeled and chopped into small cubes
For the mascarpone icing:
100g mascarpone cheese at room temperature
25g dark chocolate
2 Tbsp maple syrup
The decorations are chocolate sprinkle on the maple icing and shaved white chocolate on the dark chocolate icing
For the muffins:
- Heat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) and fill a muffin pan with muffin cases.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, nut meal or milled seeds you're using with the salt and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, or a double-boiler, or in the microwave if that's what you're used to, melt the chocolate and the butter, mixing them to be homogeneous.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until light and double in volume (easiest way is to do it with a stand or hand mixer).
- Add the melted chocolate and butter gently, either mixing on low speed, whisking slowly, or with a spatula taking care not to beat the batter too much (so as not to lose too much air).
- Fold the dry mix in, using a spatula or wooden spoon, until just combined.
- Fill the muffin cases 3/4 full and add a few pieces (~3) of pear into each case.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Let cool on a wire rack.
For the icing:
- Melt the chocolate over simmering water, or a double-boiler or the microwave as described above.
- Whip the mascarpone cheese until creamy. Divide into two small bowls.
- Mix the chocolate with one half of the mascarpone quickly (it will thicken because the chocolate is seizing) and the maple syrup with the other half of the mascarpone.
- Spread immediately on the cooled muffins.
Decorate, or not, and eat until you drop.