I have been looking for quite a while for a perfect chocolate muffin. I think this one goes quite close (would you expect anything else from Dan Lepard?). The consistency is amazing: fluffy jet rich, it crumbles and it melts in your mouth at the same time. The only tiny bit of a critic I feel like making to the result is that, like most cakes containing chocolate in the batter, the resulting cake has the tinest crunchy crust. I don’t know why it happens, must be related to the type of fat contained in chocolate, maybe? Besides, now that I think about, it, I actually like the crust effect and that is one of the reasons why I think chocolate should be included in cakes as a rule. Anyway, the crust is barely there and it tends to soften with time. Yes, because the huge pro of these muffins is that, apart from being delicious and easy to make, they will actually improve with time, unlike most muffin recipes. Mine lasted three days en plein air – and they were still delicious, I just finished them off before I could test any further.
The recipe is basic – no chocolate chips or nuts or fruit or fillings. I think it can be easily adapted to accomodate such variations, if you feel so inclined. But let us not underestimate the loveliness of a simple little chocolate cake. Home baked.
I did not make any changes apart from halving the quantities, and substituting vanilla extract (which I was short of) with a barely detectable touch of tonka bean. I copy the recipe here anyway, better to have more copies than less in case of major natural disaster.
Chocolate Custard Muffin
3 level tbsp cocoa
100g dark soft brown sugar
225ml cold water
75g unsalted butter, cubed
125g dark chocolate, broken small
75ml sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
125g caster sugar
125g plain flour
2½ tsp baking powder
First make the custard: put the cornflour, cocoa, brown sugar and water into a saucepan and whisk together over a medium heat until boiling, very thick and smooth. Remove from the heat, beat in the butter and chocolate until melted and absorbed, then add the oil, vanilla and one of the eggs, and beat again until combined. [Note: doing half quantity I added my only egg there of course]. Add the remaining egg and the caster sugar, and beat again until smooth and thick.
Measure the flour and baking powder into a bowl, stir together, then sift directly on to the custard and beat through until combined. Spoon into a dozen paper muffin cases sitting in the pockets of a muffin tray; heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for 25 minutes.
Note: I have tried replacing the butter with the same amount of oil, for a friend with milk allergy. The result was still very good, but I prefer it with half and half – slightly richer.
Note 2: I have also tried adding some roughly chopped chocolate because I wanted muffins with chocolate chips. It just melted and disappear. So I guess you have to stick to real chocolate chips (or extremely roughly chopped chocolate) if you want that effect.
Note 3: I told you, this is a recipe to make again and again :)