This recipe required some serious experimentation, but the end results were worth it. Similar to my Devilishly-Dark Chocolate Tea Bread, these muffins rely on winter squash and coffee to heighten the intensity of the cocoa and chocolate flavors. I understand why some would hesitate to use squash in something so close to a cupcake, but if Jamie Oliver recommends it, why not give it a whirl? His recipe for squash muffins calls for 14 ounces of squash, 3/4 cup oil and 2 1/4 cups of sugar (!) plus frosting. I’m sure they are excellent, but I can’t bring myself to use that much sugar.
Thus began my experimentation. I wanted to find a different way to sweeten a chocolate version of his. Bananas worked in the tea bread mentioned above, but that wouldn’t be particularly original. Sweet potatoes… now there’s an original idea, but suffice it to say I wouldn’t use those with chocolate and squash again. Ever. Fortunately, applesauce did the trick, and you can now whip up a batch of these without having to experiment any further—unless you want to find the perfect frosting to dress them up for a birthday celebration. With more than a tablespoon of chips per muffin, they don’t really need it, but if frosting can help you pass these fruit and veggie muffins off as cupcakes at a child’s party, go for it!
By the way, our six-year old’s food rating system involves a thumbs up—pointing at 12 o’clock—to indicate full approval. He rated these muffins 12:01 to imply that they are even better than 12:00. He also noted that treats with a 12:02 rating, like my Peanut Butter Crunchies, are better yet, but he added that “It goes down after that—12:03 isn’t as good.”
Note: If you are baking these for children, you might want to use decaf. There’s about 1 teaspoon of coffee per muffin, plus all of the chocolate from the chips and cocoa.
12:01 Mocha Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
1 3/4 cups 50/50 flour mix*
1/3 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooked, peeled and packed butternut squash (or Hubbard or pumpkin puree)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup brewed coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, preferably mini
* You can buy this off the shelf, but I use a less expensive homemade mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour. If you don’t have a mix, use 1 cup of all-purpose and 3/4 cup whole wheat for this recipe.
- Preheat oven to 350° F and mist a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
- Whisk together first four ingredients (flour mix through salt) in a large bowl.
- Place the next seven ingredients (squash through vanilla) in a blender and puree until thoroughly combined.
- Once the oven has preheated, add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Divide batter evenly among prepared cups.
- Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into one muffin’s center comes out clean.
- Cool muffins in tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing directly to rack to cool further.
Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for a day or two. Because they are so moist, these should be refrigerated after that.
© Liesl K. Bohan | SavvyBaker.com