Today’s recipe is for cacao-nib-topped raspberry muffins.
I see raspberries as a sort of baking commodity, like chocolate chips or almond meal, 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 raspberry 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 raspberry 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.
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- 230 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) unrefined cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 75 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 large egg
- 240 ml (1 cup) plain yogurt
- 1 cup raspberries (no need to thaw if frozen)
- 40 grams (1/3 cup) cacao nibs
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) unrefined brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and grease a muffin pan.
- In a small bowl, combine the cacao nibs and brown sugar for the topping. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt) and stir to mix.
- In another medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (butter, egg, yogurt).
- 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 muffin pan (an ice cream scoop is handy for that), and sprinkle the tops with the cacao nib mixture.
- Put into the oven to bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until puffy and golden.
- Transfer to a rack to cool, and wait for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the tins. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.