March 24, 2005
[Raspberry Muffins with Cacao Nibs]
Today is the new edition of the world-famous collaborative food-blogging event Is My Blog Burning?. It is hosted this time by Maki of I was just really very hungry, and her theme of choice is cupcakes and muffins. You may notice that while IMBB's are traditionally held on Sundays, Maki thoughtfully planned for us to have time to scrounge around for the ingredients and make each other's goodies in time for Easter.
And my contribution is this little cacao-nib-topped raspberry yogurt muffin.
Now, however early the strawberries may be this year, raspberries are not yet in season, and I realize just now that I seem to go by a different rule for the fruit I use in baking. Raspberries I see as a sort of baking commodity, like chocolate chips or ground almonds, and I usually keep a bag of frozen framboises in the freezer: in Paris, fresh raspberries come at too high a price for too tiny a basket to drown their delicate taste in a cake, so I have taken to buying Picard's framboises brisées for my baking. Framboises brisées, as you may have guessed, are raspberries that were smushed at some point in their lives, so they can't be labelled as whole raspberries and can hence be bought for a little less. For me though, it's not so much the price thing as the idea that I'm saving those poor flawed raspberries from disdain and oblivion, giving them their proverbial fifteen minutes.
As for the cacao nibs (éclats de fèves de cacao in French), they are simply tiny bits of roasted cocoa beans, not sweetened or processed any further. I am pleased to say that mine have flown across one continent and one ocean to reach my kitchen: they were a gift from one of my favorite food bloggers, Derrick, who was kind enough to send me this specialty from the Berkeley-based chocolate maker Sharffen Berger. I have always loved chocolat noir aux éclat de fèves de cacao (oh, the texture, the aroma, the flavor packed up in those tiny flecks!) and was a big fan of Scharffen-Berger's Nibby Bar when I lived in California, but I had never actually thought of purchasing the cacao nibs themselves. Derrick mentioned that they worked wonders in savory dishes and this idea is simmering somewhere on the stovetop of my mind, but these muffins were my first impulse to use them.
I love baking with yogurt, as some of you may have noticed by now, as I think it lends a delightful moistness to the finished product without using truckloads of butter. I normally use plain yogurt or fermented milk (which can go by the name of kefir or lait ribot) indifferently (depending on what's in the fridge) and here used both -- buttermilk would work fine too.
These muffins were a popular item in the sunny brunch spread we laid out for our friends last Sunday. They were just the right sweetness in my opinion (read "not very sweet") and this was confirmed by a quick table survey, but if you like your sweets to be very sweet you may want to up the sugar a little. As for the raspberry and cacao nib pairing, it worked particularly well, their subtle flavors melding together harmoniously without stepping on each other's toes or competing for your attention.
Note that the basic recipe (minus the raspberries and cacao nib topping) is easy-breezy and can be adapted to welcome any other ingredient/topping that you would like in/on your muffs.
Muffins à la Framboise, Eclats de Fève de Cacao
- 4 Tbsp (75 g) butter
- 2 C (230 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 C (100 g) sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 C (125 ml) plain yogurt
- 1/2 C (125 ml) buttermilk / fermented milk / kefir
- 1 C raspberries
- 1/3 C (40 g) cacao nibs
- 1/4 C (50 g) brown sugar, preferably unrefined
(Yields 18 small muffins.)
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and grease (or line with paper cups or leave alone if they are silicon) a set of muffin tins.
Melt the butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan, and set aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine the cacao nibs and brown sugar. Set aside.
In a medium mixing-bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt) and stir to mix. In another medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (butter, egg, yogurt and buttermilk). Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and stir with a spatula until just combined. Do not overmix. The mixture will be lumpy, that's okay. Fold in the berries.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tins, and sprinkle a bit of the cacao nib mixture on top. Put into the oven to bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until risen and golden. Turn out on a rack to cool, and wait for 10-15 minutes before removing from the tins. Serve warm or completely cooled.
Chocolate Marble Cake
Chocolate Frozen Yogurt