Muffin Mondays: Kris’s No-Bake Chocolate Chip Bran Muffins

This week, Kris from Married to Chocolate brings her special chocolatey touch to mornings. Kris also specializes in l0w-maintenance: these muffins are almost no-bake, and come together as fast as you’ll eat them.

I’m a serious believer in dessert emergencies–when you gotta have something sweet, stat. As in, right now. As in, yesterday.

I’m also a serious believer in no-bake desserts. I started No-Bake Mondays on Married to Chocolate because I wanted my desserts fast, cheap, and easy. But the real story why I got into no-baking is because I was oven-less for a year and I had to be creative (that, and I’m a lazy baker).

This insanely easy Chocolate Chip Bran Muffin recipe is not entirely no-bake; you need a microwave to make them. Still. Sticking them in a microwave for one and a half minutes beats waiting half an hour to bake them in the oven, don’t you think? So if you’re anything like me and you have the patience of a five-year-old when it comes to desserts, this recipe is for YOU.

I made these for the first time today and they turned out great! I’ve never made muffins before, let alone microwave muffins. Nervous, I stood watching the muffin tray turn in the microwave with my fingers crossed saying, “please rise, please rise, please, please.” And they did!

More than that, the muffins came out ridiculously moist, dense, and not the least bit airy. They’re made with bran so they have a light, whole grain taste to them that’s awesome with chocolate. I topped the muffins with chocolate chips right out of the microwave so the chocolate was melting as I ate them— ayayay. YUM.

A few tips:

You can also make this a regular oven. Preheat at 350 and bake for 25-30 minutes and do the whole toothpick test. I made a bunch with white chocolate chips and cranberry. They were awesome. If you don’t use up all the batter, you can keep it in the freezer for up to four weeks.

Chocolate Chip Bran Muffins

makes 18

1 cup boiling water

2 cups All Bran cereal

1 cup Bran Flakes cereal

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup vegetable oil

2 ½ cup flour

2 ½ tsp baking soda

½ cup chocolate chips

1 and ½ cup sugar

½ tsp salt

walnuts (optional)

  1. In a large bowl, pour boiling water over cereal. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix well (leave some chocolate chips to top with).
  2. Line a plastic muffin tray with paper liners. Spoon batter in 4/5 of the way.
  3. “Bake” in microwave for one minute and a half. Garnish with chocolate chips and walnuts.
  4. Ta-dah! Muffins in 15 minutes–including prep time. Enjoy!
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Muffin Mondays: Emily’s Spiced Carrot-Date Muffins with Cashews

Happy Monday readers! I’m Emily Cobb, author of art and lifestyle blog “emily’s eye.” It is quite the honor to be your Muffin Monday contributor for I must admit: I am not a professional baker or cook.

I love food though, and have been working in the restaurant industry for seven years so I’m not completely clueless. As an artist, I love combining the flavors of various ingredients as if they are paint on a canvas. When grocery shopping I’ll buy ingredients that interest me rather than having a specific recipe in mind. So when it comes time to cook or bake I become a pantry scavenger and will select items that I feel may mesh well. My goal is for the ingredients to accentuate each others’ best qualities without overwhelming.

Sometimes I come up with kitchen gems . . . sometimes I get laughable flops. The element of surprise when experimenting sure keeps things interesting.

Clearly the creative process is what I really love about cooking – well, the eating part is pretty awesome too. That said, lets talk muffins . . .

For today’s recipe: a medley of medjool dates, cashews, coconut, orange, fresh ginger and cardamom put a funky twist on the typical carrot-nut muffin rut. The spice combination makes these muffins downright mysterious while the dates, like nature’s caramel, add a serious dose of sweetness.

Warning: these muffins may be treading on carrot cake territory. . . not that there’s anything wrong with having dessert for breakfast. In fact, I can’t think of a better way to start your day. (Even if it is at the crack-of-noon, as is typically the case with me.)

As a true American my personal motto is “Go Big or Go Home:” I use a jumbo size muffin tin. This recipe will yield a dozen sensibly sized muffins or 6 big boys.

In closing, big kudos to Jen for creating the opportunity for local (and familial) foodie collaboration. Way to bring people together through baked goods. Viva Muffin Mondays!

Emily of Emilyseyelive.com

Emily’s Spiced Carrot-Date Muffins with Cashews

The Dry:

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup coarse bran (miller’s bran)

½ cup brown sugar

1/3 cup coconut flakes (plus a bit extra to garnish)

3 tsp baking powder

1½ tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp ground clove

½ tsp salt

The Wet:

2 eggs

½ cup orange juice

¼ cup yogurt (plain or vanilla)

4 tbsp softened butter

The Delicious:

3/4 cup shredded carrot

½ cup chopped (& pitted) medjool dates

1/3 cup chopped cashews

2 tbsp shredded fresh ginger (for the best flavor use fresh, otherwise, substitute ½ ground ginger)

1½ tbsp orange zest

  1. Preheat the oven to 400, and use a food processor to shred carrots and a little nub of skinned fresh ginger. Prep the rest of the items by hand and combine each set of ingredients (the dry, the wet, and the delicious) in 3 separate bowls with the dry in the largest bowl (all the ingredients will end up here.)
  2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Then fold and stir the two forces together until everything is just moistened.
  3. Fold in the remaining ingredients (the delicious). The consistency should be lumpy and moist – do not over work! Spoon the batter into a greased muffin tin, and sprinkle the remaining coconut flakes on top of each muffin.
  4. Depending on the tin size and/or the oven the muffins need anywhere between 20-30 minutes to bake. Do the clean toothpick test every 5 minutes after 20 minutes of oven time have passed to determine when they’re done. Like most pastries these muffins are excellent when served warm or reheated in the toaster oven. Enjoy!

patriotic muffins

In Canada we have this great stuff called Red River Cereal. Not only is it Canadian, it actually originated in Manitoba’s storied Red River Valley–the area surrounding the city I’m from. I don’t know if it’s available in conventional grocery stores in the US, but as with everything else, is available here. (Bob’s Red Mill 7 or 10 grain cereal will also do the trick, though the result will possess a diminished cultural caliber.

As far as whole foods go, this one is tops. Made of just three simple ingredients — cracked wheat, rye and flax– this stuff will boost your High-Density Lipoproteins (the “good” cholesterol everyone is raving about these days) like nobody’s business. HDL Muffins didn’t quite have the same ring to it though.

And just in case the cholesterol pitch wasn’t enough, these babies are high in fiber and protein as well. So pack up those power bars and whip out your wooden spoons.

Since we’re not swallows who can just peck away at grains laid out on the glistening buffet of late February snow, we humans have to turn cereal into more tender possibilities. Whether it’s cooked on the stovetop to yield a hot viscous pudding with a satisfying chew, or made into these Red River Valley Muffins, I think we might actually have it a little better than the birds.

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