Boston is a great city for many, many reasons, one of them being that there is an enormous amount of students who flock here from all over the world (myself included). While living in Boston I’ve met, befriended, and loved so many different kinds of people with so many amazing (and sometimes surprising) talents, and the majority of them eager to learn and explore the world around them. The other side, though, is that most of these extraordinary people need to leave Boston because they just don’t fit. This college town ain’t big enough for the crazy awesomeness, and, in fact, the world is barely big enough.

I’ve decided to stay here, for now, and it’s bittersweet to see the people I know and love leave. The biggest consolation I have is thinking about how lucky I am to have met the people I’ve met, and how lucky I am to have all the good memories and experiences that I have with them. Maybe that’s why this muffin recipe attracted me, the “traveler’s” chocolate muffin. Something sweet and small to carry with you and to give you a little bit of energy on the journey, or at least a spring in your step, whenever you may need it.

Regarding the recipe itself, I liked the serious chocolate flavor, and the fact that I’m basically eating chocolate cake for breakfast, but the muffins were a little dry. Although they didn’t taste bad, and maybe the dryness is part of this particular chocolate cake product, I’d probably find a way to add some sour cream or yogurt the next time I make these. And, finally, my room mate and I both thought the muffins tasted like some sort of chocolate cereal, which made us giggle. Chocolate cereal muffin!

“Traveler’s” Chocolate Muffins

(Recipe adapted from Baking and Books)

Yields 12 regular-size muffins

 

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat flours)

½ unsweetened cocoa powder

1 to 1 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed, depending on your sugar preference

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cup milk

1 egg

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate, chopped or chips

½ cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

Optional: 2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar for sprinkling

 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease muffin tins with baking spray or butter.

2. In a large bowl, stir flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine.

3. In a medium-size bowl, stir milk, brown sugar, egg, olive oil, and vanilla to combine.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir just to combine. Add chocolate and walnuts, stirring, again, just until all ingredients are combined.

5. Fill muffin cups ¾ of the way full (I use a ¼ cup ice cream scoop to get even-size muffins) and sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired.

6. Bake muffins in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.

7. Allow muffins to cool in tin for five minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely. To remove, run a butter knife along the sides to loosen muffins, and then pop out of tin.

These muffins are best eaten as soon as possible after coming out of the oven. Keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a day.

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The sun was shining this morning and I definitely saw a robin while running morning errands. I had been thinking about what to make for breakfast this morning for the last few days and nothing pinched my baking nerve until walking around in the sun and realizing that soon it will be spring! I’ll be able to walk around until my heart bursts with contentment, without having to deal with the rain and the snow and the biting wind, which means I’ll start needing mobile breakfasts that pack a little bit of a sugar punch… and I’m thinking muffins!

Realizing my mixing bowls and ingredients color-coordinated made me ridiculously excited. Silly or not, still awesome.

Oh, but there are so many muffins! Think about it, you have bakery style, fluffy light muffins studded with berries, chocolate muffins with frosting that look like DESSERT, green pistachio muffins, sunshine-y yellow corn muffins, heart healthy and deliciously textural bran muffins, goodness gracious! The list could continue on as long as your imagination/stomach permits. There is a berry muffin recipe that makes me bright and cheery just thinking about, but I didn’t have proper ingredients and had to think of something else, something NEW. Gasp! Flipping through book after book and webpage after webpage, these allspice muffins beat out every other contender this morning. Something from the picture, creamy, light color and crunchy streusel with flecks of warm allspice sounded wonderful to me, like a winter/spring collage in muffin form.

I didn’t tweak this recipe much at all, except with the addition of blueberries. “Put blueberries in it” is apparently my new mantra, something I’ve been asking myself about every baked good I see. I don’t know, maybe it’s just early enthusiasm for fresh blueberries at farmer’s markets. It’s hard to describe how excited I am for all that.

Allspice Crumb Muffins

(Recipe adapted from Baking, From My Home to Yours)

Yields 12 regular-size muffins, if adding blueberries recipe will yield one or two muffins more

Ingredients

For streusel:

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup light brown sugar, packed

½ teaspoon allspice

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½ inch cubes

For muffins:

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup light brown sugar, packed

½ cup, or 8 tablespoons, unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 eggs

¾ cup whole milk **

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

(Optional: zest of one lemon)

(Optional: 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries)***

**Instead of whole milk I used buttermilk (on a random note, who runs out of milk but seems to always stock up on buttermilk? Weird.). To make up for the added acidity, I added a half-teaspoon baking soda. I’m not sure if that’s necessary, but the muffins turned out really, really well regardless!

***Add a minute or two to the baking time because the muffins will need just a wee bit longer to set.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degress F. Butter a regular-size muffin pan. Dorie recommends placing muffin tin on a baking sheet to bake. I forgot and got slightly more browned muffin bottoms.

2. To make streusel, combine flour, brown sugar and allspice with your fingers in a medium-size mixing bowl. Add cubes of butter, toss to coat, and then work the butter into the flour mixture until you have irregularly shaped crumbs. Set aside (refrigerate until use, if applicable).

3. In a large bowl, whisk all dry muffin ingredients except brown sugar. When combined, add the brown sugar and whisk until there are no brown sugar lumps.

4. In a medium-size mixing bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk melted butter, egg, milk, and vanilla extract until well combined.

5. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir quickly just to blend. Batter will be thick and lumpy.

6. Stir in lemon zest, if using, and blueberries, if using.

7. Add batter evenly to individual muffin cups. I use a ¼ cup ice cream scoop, but a measuring cup would work, too.

8. Sprinkle streusel evenly over filled muffin cups, gently pressing it into the batter of each muffin.

9. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until tops are golden and a cake tester comes out dry.

10. Let muffins cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before removing them to cool completely (or eat!).

Storage instructions: Muffins are best the day they are made, however you can keep them refrigerated overnight in an airtight container and warm them in a 350 degree oven the next day. If desired, you can freeze baked muffins for up to 2 months if wrapped airtight.