All right, I know I said I was going to do more healthy food...but, you know, ricotta is full of protein, and if you use whole wheat pastry flour in this recipe...well, no - I guess I can't make this into a health food. But it is one of my most requested recipes, and I've been meaning to put it on the blog for awhile!
This one is from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe - one of my favorite cookbooks, and one of two that I have that are specifically breakfast recipes. These muffins freeze and re-heat very well - I often make a batch and freeze them, and then pull out one or two for a special treat/snack. Although I wouldn't really call them "healthy", I feel better giving these to Picky than a cookie, which is much higher in fat and sugar, and lower in protein. Plus the muffins fill you up much better. I also make these to bring as gifts or as a potluck dessert. I made them for a New Year's brunch - I tried to mix it up a bit by adding white chocolate chips instead of regular, mostly because I thought they would look cool, but actually it didn't look or taste as good as the regular semi-sweet chips do, so I wouldn't advise that. You could probably do chocolate chunks instead of chips, though - hmmm, I may have to try that, although it may have to wait until after I've dropped the extra holiday pounds...
Chocolate Ricotta Muffins
- Nonstick spray
- 2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I usually use whole wheat pastry flour)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 6-8 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa (use something really good...this makes the recipe...)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or chunks?...)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese (she recommends whole milk ricotta, but I've used low fat with good results...)
- 2 large eggs (curious about egg sizes, or need to convert? click here.)
- 1 1/3 cups milk (again, I usually use 1% here, but I think anything would work...)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted (I do this in the microwave - be careful not to blow it up, though! It works better if you put a piece of wax paper or butter wrapper over the dish, and start with 35-45 seconds. The time will vary a bit depending on your microwave. Or you could get all old-fashioned and melt it in a little sauce pan on the stove...)
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray 12 standard muffin cups with nonstick spray. (I always end up with more, because my muffin tins are smaller - I think I usually get about 20, and I knock a few minutes off of the time...)
- Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cocoa, sugar, and chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl.
- Place the ricotta in a second medium-sized bowl, and add the eggs one at a time, beating well with a medium-sized whisk after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla, and whisk until thoroughly blended.
- Pour the ricotta mixture, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients. Using a spoon or a rubber spatula, stir from the bottom of the bowl until the dry ingredients are all moistened. Don't overmix; a few lumps are okay.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. For smaller muffins, fill the cups about 4/5ths full. For larger muffins, fill them up to the top. If you have extra batter, spray one or two additional muffin cups with non-stick spray and fill the remaining batter. (tip - If I have empty muffin tins, I fill them 1/3 with water. I'm not sure where I heard this, but it's supposed to be better for the pan somehow. You do have to be a bit careful taking it out of the oven, though, lest you slop the hot water on yourself or the other muffins...)
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven, then remove the muffins from the pan and place them on a rack to cool. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving. (yeah, right! Well, at least try them before giving one to your child, because the chocolate chips get really, really hot!! I don't think I've ever waited 30 minutes, though - that's asking too much!)