September 06, 2010

Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chip Muffins

I was really very happy with my recent foray into the world of chocolate, oatmeal, and peanut butter. So much so, in fact, that I started thinking about other, non-cookie applications.

In a related note, I found myself picking gooey chocolate crumbs out of a muffin wrapper last week, having succumbed to the "chocolate muffin" at Tim Horton's. Yeah. Well. It wasn't so much a muffin, as a damp, massively sweet cupcake with an unstable texture. Looking at the online nutritional information, the only entry close to what I had is the "chocolate chip muffin", which is a whopping 430 calories, of which 16 grams of fat and 40 grams of sugar make up much of the payload. If it had been more pleasant an eating experience, and less of a crumby, sticky-fingered disaster, I wouldn't have minded so much, call that a muffin? Really? We must be speaking different languages. I'd have rather had a doughnut. Or, er, "donut."

It got me thinking - why can't there be a chocolate muffin that is, in fact, a muffin and not an also-ran in the sweets department? Now, maybe if they'd backed down on the sugar overload, or added a hearty, muffin-friendly texturizer to give the creation a little backbone...and, before I knew it, I was drafting up a recipe.

The results were very pleasing indeed. A perfect lunchbox treat, in fact, or a quick breakfast snack on the go. Dare I say, perfect for back to school lunches (for those schools which don't have a peanut butter prohibition)?

Chocolate Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chip Muffins

3 tablespoons soft butter
½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of cinnamon
1 cup all purpose flour
¾ cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup peanut butter chips

My own cryptic notes for assembly read as follows:
Muffin Method; 400℉ 20 minutes; 12 regular. Those of you who enjoy a little more specificity may want to follow these directions:

Preheat your oven to 400℉ with the rack set in the middle of the oven. Lightly grease (or spritz with canola oil) a 12 cup muffin pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and cinnamon,

Measure out the buttermilk for quick access.

Add about a third of the dry flour mixture to the beaten butter/egg mixture and combine until just blended. Then, pour in half the buttermilk, and stir it gently through. Repeat with the next third of dry mixture and the last of the buttermilk. Finally, fold in the last bit of dry mixture and add the peanut butter chips, carefully stirring it through just until all the flour is incorporated, handling gently to prevent toughness.

Distribute the batter between the greased muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven (check after 20, and if the muffin tops are dry and show a little resilience when gently pressed, remove from oven. Allow muffins to cool in pan on a rack for a couple of minutes, then lift muffins out of cups to finish cooling on the racks.

Store in a sealed container in the fridge, once completely cool, and re-warm in the microwave for 20 seconds.

The muffins are just sweet enough - the peanut butter chips are actually little sweet bursts of peanuty tastiness, and the oatmeal gives the muffin a sturdy, satisfying texture without being heavy or dense.

For those interested in how the nutritional info stacks up, I used an online calculator to come up with a count of about 220 calories per muffin based on this recipe, including 20 grams of sugar and 8.3 grams of fat. Plus, over three grams of fibre, if that's your thing. It should be noted that I couldn't find an ingredient listing for the Reese's peanut butter chips that I used in the recipe, so my calculations are based on using Reese's pieces instead, which will skew the results at least somewhat. Plus, I'm never entirely sure how reliable online calculators are. Your mileage may vary. Still, all in all, a considerable nutritional improvement on the commercial muffin I was lamenting above.


Jane @ Sweet Basil Kitchen said...

No better combination but chocolate and peanut butter! I like your healthy twist. These could be a great dessert too, make the grandkids think they are cupcakes!

Dawna said...

Even if they don't buy the notion of them being cupcakes (depends on their relative levels of exposure, I guess), there's not a lot of kids that will turn down chocolate and peanut butter, in my experience!