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These muffins–and muffins they be– are not an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. Not too sweet and with a pebbly-crunchy mouthfeel, they still hold a holiday-ishly decadent pizzaz with the very best bittersweet chocolate baked right into the bottom of the muffin. You can also add it at the top if a frosting effect is more to your liking (see Cook’s Notes), but I do very much like the little secret chocolate that’s perfectly hidden until you take your first bite.  If you’ve been roaring on about trying not to eat all those goodies this month (waa, waa, waa), take heart; read on…

Buying muffins in restaurants or stores will likely get you a mother-whopper of a muffin that weighs in over the moon in both size and calories.  None of us needs that anytime, but most of all not during the holidays. (Can you say 500 calories?) Instead, let me introduce a darling little gem that is 6 SmartPoints on WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and otherwise just over 190 calories with a happy 28 grams of carbohydrates.  (Skip the chocolate for a savings of 30 calories and 7 grams of carbs.) You might be able to beat that, but you’ll have to convince me. Nutritional facts at bottom of post.

How’s that done? Add whole wheat flour and corn meal in place of about half of the white flour.  Then cut back on the sugar and fat, leaving just enough for an edge of tender sweetness. Well, a few test runs didn’t hurt. Cinnamon makes the muffin feel sweeter than it actually is as the cranberries are quite tart. Chocolate just tastes good, so there you are.

Another cool thing about baking these muffins rather than Christmas cookies or cakes, is that for-real muffins (instead of the fake cakey sort) can be part of meal and they’re also a decent snack. Put them on the table with an egg casserole or even eggs and bacon in place of toast with jam and you’re gonna feel good about it. There’s fruit, right? And don’t forget the salted butter at the table.

And chocolate (I used Valrhona) is good for the heart, just as it’s even better for the soul. Snug one of these little muffins up against a coffee mug along about 3 o’clock one afternoon and see how much better you feel. If you don’t believe me, you’ll just have to try this:

CHOCOLATE BOTTOM CRANBERRY MUFFINS

makes 12-13   Extra batter? Bake another muffin in a greased ramekin or oven-safe cup.  See cook’s note for variations:  CHOCOLATE TOPPED CRANBERRY MUFFINS  or CHOCOLATE-CRANBERRY MUFFINS.

6 Weight Watchers SmartPoints (Freestyle)  Skip chocolate and count just 5.

  • 2 eggs (can sub 1 egg beaten with 2 egg whites or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • Grated rind of one orange (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose, unbleached flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup stoneground cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 EACH teaspoon kosher salt and baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped (If using frozen, allow a little extra baking time.)
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit.  Place oven rack at center of oven. Grease or spray well 12-muffin cup muffin tin including edges around the top of each cup.
  2. Beat together the eggs and canola oil in a measuring cup; set aside.
  3. Beat together the milk with the orange rind and juice; set aside for 2 minutes.
  4. In a large measuring cup or bowl, whisk together dry ingredients, flour – baking powder.  Pour the egg mixture and the milk mixture on top of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in cranberries gently so that the batter is mixed, but not pink. (If it is, it’ll still be lovely.)
  5. Using a greased or sprayed large ice cream scoop, scoop about 1/4 cup of the batter into each cup.  Sprinkle center with about 3/4 teaspoon chopped chocolate and add a second small scoop of batter to cover chocolate. Don’t overfill the tins.  Bake on center oven rack for 13-15 minutes or until light golden in color and just firm at top. Do not over bake. Remove pan to a cooling rack.
  6. Let sit a minute or two on rack. Using a small off-set spatula or kitchen knife, remove each muffin carefully. Let cool another minute or two on the rack and eat warm or cool completely and eat at room temperature.
  7. Store leftovers in a well-sealed storage bag or container on the counter for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to two weeks.**

**Hot climates or summertime: Refrigerate/freeze all muffins in well-sealed storage bag or tightly-sealed storage contain

{printable recipe}

COOK’S NOTES:

CHOCOLATE TOPPED MUFFINS:  Follow directions above, but at step 5:   Scoop muffin batter into the tins and sprinkle the top of each with 3/4 teaspoon chopped chocolate.  Bake, cool, and store as directed in the rest of directions 5, 6, and 7.

For CHOCOLATE-CRANBERRY MUFFINS, simply stir the chocolate pieces into the batter right after the cranberries in direction 4.


NUTRITIONAL FACTS via myfitnesspal.com  (approximate)

Nutrition Facts
Servings 12.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 191
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7 g 11 %
Saturated Fat 1 g 7 %
Monounsaturated Fat 3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 32 mg 11 %
Sodium 191 mg 8 %
Potassium 127 mg 4 %
Total Carbohydrate 28 g 9 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g 11 %
Sugars 9 g
Protein 5 g 10 %
Vitamin A 3 %
Vitamin C 8 %
Calcium 7 %
Iron 4 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Looking for a sweeter December treat after all?  Try my: 

Chocolate-Peppermint Shortbread Cookies


Need a holiday movie?  Try “The Man Who Invented Christmas” (2017)–a well-done film featuring Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey) as Dickens.  I just read the book again–worth a second or third visit.


Happy healthy December,

Alyce