Healthy Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Chip Muffins

IMG_2583What do you do when there’s three jars of peanut butter in the larder (with a mere smidgen in each), half a pot of greek yoghurt in the fridge inching towards its use by date, practically a whole bag of wholewheat flour that you never EVER use, and your last two bananas are simply too brown to eat without the use of a nose peg? Why, you bake up some healthy peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip muffins, say I! Go on and have a look at the list of ingredients. Quite frankly, they scream ‘wholesome goodness’, don’t you think? When you see how laughably small the amount of sugar is that is used (spread out over twelve muffins, may I note), then you will understand that these tasty little treats are a godsend when you fancy something indulgent, but you want to feel dang good about yourself at the same time.

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 90g honey
  • 60g soft dark brown sugar
  • 170g plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 egg
  • 110g almond milk
  • 170g peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 220g wholewheat flour (if you have self-raising, use that and omit the raising agents)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 80g dark chocolate chips

Method

Preheat the oven to 210°C (or just whack it up to as high as it can go) and grease a 12 count muffin pan with butter, oil or even coconut oil if you’re feeling fancy. As of late, muffin cases have been put to the back of the shelves in my kitchen, as having half of your muffin left behind in the paper’s creases is decidedly not for me. Hurrah, for naked muffins!

Whisk together the mashed bananas, honey, brown sugar, yoghurt, egg, almond milk, peanut butter and vanilla extract until combined.IMG_2574In a large bowl, measure out the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and chocolate chips, then toss it all around with a wooden spoon to combine.IMG_2577Pour the wet ingredients into the dry *pause for the action shot*.IMG_2578 IMG_2579Using a wooden spoon, gently fold the mixture together until just a few flour pockets remain. Some are okay! It is superbly important with muffin batter to never overmix it, as this will make the poor buggers tough and dense. We want them to be light and airy, so hold back with the vigorous beating. (All thanks go to the baking queen herself, Claire Medley, for teaching me this golden nugget of information. Mumma Medley is the muffin queen, even nipping out of the sitting room to whip up a batch during ad breaks! A girl can dream of ever possessing such skills.)

IMG_2580Now you are ready to spoon your light and fluffy mixture into the prepared muffin pan, sprinkling with extra chocolate chips if you so desire.IMG_2581Bung them in the hot oven for 5 minutes, before turning the temperature down to 180°C for a further 10 minutes.IMG_2582Let your muffins cool in the pan before popping them out with a butter knife or spatula. They should come away easily from the sides if you’ve liberally greased the pan (like I told ya to!).

Enjoy these healthy beauties warm from the oven, or make like me and freeze them on the sly to have a secret stash. Mum caught me warming one up in the microwave so the chocolate goes all melty and delicious, asking ‘What on earth is going on here?!’

‘Muffin, muffin at all.’

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Courgette Super Muffins

IMG_2426‘What makes a super muffin super?’ I hear you ask. Now there ain’t no cacao, maca or spirulina in these bad boys, but they are so named super muffins because they contain a vegetable that isn’t a carrot. The consequence of a recent bout of spiralising every vegetable in sight, was an overwhelming number of courgettes knocking about the fridge. The most logical way to tackle this lower shelf invasion was to bake them into something delicious that I can freeze for many snacks to come. You can find the original recipe that these are adapted from here. Now, put down that sodding spiraliser, and get grating.

Ingredients (makes 10 large muffins)

Streusel topping:

  • 30g oats
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 30g cold butter

Courgette muffins:

  • 1 egg
  • 100g dark brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 120ml vegetable oil
  • 1 large courgette, grated
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 190g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 120g chopped walnutsIMG_2420

Method

Preheat your oven to 200°C and line a muffin tray with large muffin cases. First, we make the streusel by mixing together the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour in a medium bowl. Cube the cold butter into the mixture, and combine by using a cutting motion with a butter knife. IMG_2417Mix in this way until the streusel resembles coarse bread crumbs, and tastes like the best crumble topping ever.IMG_2419For the muffins, whisk together in a large bowl the egg, brown sugar, caster sugar, oil, courgette and vanilla until completely combined. Add in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon, mixed spice and walnuts, then gently fold using a wooden spoon to combine. If there are some rogue flour pockets left, that’s fine! With muffins, you definitely don’t want to overmix the batter.IMG_2421Dollop the mixture evenly between your prepared cases, filling them most of the way to the top.IMG_2422Sprinkle the streusel over the tops of each muffin, carefully pressing down to make sure it sticks.IMG_2423Bake in the very hot oven for 5 minutes, before turning the temperature down to 180°C for a further 12 minutes. This should hopefully make them rise up successfully, as a muffin should! When they’re ready, leave them to cool in the tray for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.IMG_2425My family have gone mad for the buttery oaty topping paired with the light, fluffy, brown sugar sponge. Never again will we have a bare-topped muffin in the house! Do give them a go and let me know how they turn out. What are your favourite ways to incorporate vegetables into baking? I once gave beetroot brownies a go, but they most certainly did not put a smile on anyone’s face and were never made again.

Cinnamon Glazed Pumpkin & Walnut Muffins

IMG_0691These spiced pumpkin muffins are your best friend if you’re in a rush, running out the door and need something delicious to grab on the go. In my dream world they are to be eaten whilst wearing something tartan and cosy, because they seem to compliment each other rather well (I had this thought mid bite, as I was sporting my new tartan skirt). Bake your own Starbucks treat and revel in the knowledge that yours contain none of those chemical preservative or nasties, and all of the goodness and flavour of a lovingly home baked muffin.

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins)

  • 220g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 100g dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 220g pumpkin puree
  • 120ml vegetable oil
  • 80ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 50g white chocolate chips
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 20ml milk
  • more cinnamon

IMG_0683Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cases. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, and put to one side. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the brown sugar until combined. Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, milk, vanilla extract and whisk again.IMG_0684Pour the wet batter into the dry ingredients, carefully fold with a wooden spoon until nearly no flour pockets remain (some are fine, just be sure not to overmix the batter or your muffins will be sad little flat things), adding your walnuts and chocolate chips to the mix too. Spoon your batter into the muffin cases until about two thirds full.IMG_0685Sprinkle a few chopped walnuts onto the top of each muffin, or more chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds…whatever tickles your fancy. The walnuts work well because they become lovely and toasted, giving a satisfyingly crunchy topping.IMG_0687Bake in the preheated oven for 18 minutes, until a sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave them to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, before popping on a wire rack to cool completely. To make the cinnamon glaze, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add splashes of milk until it becomes the consistency you are after (not too thick that it doesn’t move, and not too runny that it drips everywhere!) Add a sprinkling of cinnamon for flavour – I used about half a teaspoon.IMG_0689Drizzle the glaze artfully over your muffins, and dig in. Best enjoyed immediately alongside a steaming mug of chai tea! Yum.IMG_0690

Hummingbird Salted Caramel Cupcakes

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All throughout placement year my weeks were spent baking away with my housemate (also a baker extraordinaire) until the late hours of the evening. We would kill ourselves at spin class and body pump after work in order to earn those nights of eating cookie dough and cake batter, sitting by the oven waiting for our creations to take form. Heck, most of the time we doubled our recipes so there was plenty to munch on (raw, obvs, tastes way better) before giving out at work the next day. But that is most probably a terrible thing to admit (and it’s a wonder we haven’t given ourselves early-onset diabetes).

Luckily for me, at my current place of work there are plenty of other sugar loving souls who share my interest in wooden spoons and aprons. When I suggested holding a charity Bake Off it was met with wonder and glee from practically everyone, oh-so-surprisingly including my own manager, who is bravely attempting a Banana and Walnut Loaf. My little chosen lovelies are Hummingbird Bakery’s Salted Caramel Cupcakes, with a hidden caramel centre, and I chose to add an extra sprinkling of fudge chunks for a bit of chewiness. Don’t they look splendid?!

Ingredients (makes 16 cupcakes)

Sponge

  • 170g plain flour
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 70g butter
  • 210ml milk
  • 2 large eggs

Icing

  • 340g icing sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 35ml milk
  • 30g tinned caramel or dulce de leche
  • pinch of sea salt

Filling and Decoration

  • the rest of your caramel or dulce de leche
  • pinch of sea salt

Method

Preheat your oven to 170°C and line a muffin tin with paper cases. To make the sponge, sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl, add the butter and mix together until it has a sandy consistency. In a small bowl, whisk together your eggs and milk. Pour half the wet mixture into the dry, and mix thoroughly until combined.

IMG_0452Gradually pour in the rest of the liquid and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowls as needed until the batter is smooth and thick with no lumps.

IMG_0453At this point I find it best to transfer the batter into a jug for easy pouring ability, rather than spooning the batter into the cases. Use whichever way you find easiest (or even better, use a 50ml ice-cream scoop like Hummingbird suggests, but we don’t all have that luxury) until the cases are half to two thirds full.

IMG_0456Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until a sharp knife inserted to the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Leave them to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

IMG_0457Now for the fun part. Take a sharp knife to make a hollow in the centre of each cupcake, approximately two centimetres across and three centimetres deep. Spoon a teaspoon of caramel into the hollow, and replace the cut out piece of sponge, pressing down gently to ensure the surprise is safely sealed inside.

IMG_0461To make the buttercream, sift the icing sugar into a large bowl and add the butter. Whisk until combined with no lumps remaining. Pour in the milk, add the caramel and a pinch of sea salt, and mix thoroughly. Keep beating the mixture until it is light and fluffy, ready to be piped.

IMG_0463At this stage it is completely up to you how to ice the cakes. Hummingbird tells you to spoon generous amounts of the frosting onto each cupcake, gently smoothing with a palette knife, making a swirl at the top if you wish. I chose to use a piping bag and a large star nozzle, purely because it’s brand spanking new and I’ve been wanting to try it out. Considering I halved the icing ingredients, wouldn’t you say there is sufficient icing per cupcake?! There was even some leftover, but don’t you worry, it wasn’t put to waste (it was put to my waist, in fact).

IMG_0465To finish, pop some fudge chunks into the icing and spoon about a teaspoon of warmed caramel on the top of each frosted cupcake. (I found microwaving it in a small bowl for 10 seconds helped make it a pouring rather than dolloping consistency).IMG_0469

Now for the all important judgement day, Friday 10th October. Considering I organised the whole shabang and helped choose the prizes (bottle of wine and an M&S voucher for the winner, a wooden spoon with a ribbon on it for the poor soul with the least votes), if I went and won the thing it would be rather embarrassing and seem like a fix. So maybe I’ll do the noble thing and let someone else take the crown…IMG_0466Come back tomorrow to see the best (and worst) of our Bake Off, and to find out the all important results!

Wish me luck, I’ll knead it.