My favorite muffins are chocolate chip, and I especially love the chocolate chip muffins at Tim Horton’s. They’re moist, soft, and cakey with just the right amount of chocolate and a crunchy, sugar top. Sadly, my favorite Tim Horton’s chocolate chip muffins have a whopping 430 calories each, not to mention 40 grams of sugar and only 2 grams of fiber (you can get their full nutritional profile here).
I can’t say that my Black Forest Bran Muffins are as cakey and delicious as the muffins at Tim Horton’s, but then again cake under the guise of a muffin probably shouldn’t be part of breakfast anyway. These muffins are moist and delicious in a different way. A healthy way…and when paired with low-fat cottage cheese and an apple, it’s a filling, nourishing breakfast that fuels me for at least four hours.
Baking with Honey: I do a lot of my baking with honey instead of sugar, because honey is natural and unprocessed, and contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that sugar lacks. Honey also helps keep baked goods fresher (because its enzymes fight mold) and moister (because it is hydroscopic, meaning it draws moisture to itself) for longer periods of time. When I develop a recipe with honey or experiment with substituting honey in a recipe, here are some helpful tips I keep in mind:
· Honey is sweeter than sugar, so you can use less.
· Honey is a liquid, so you can reduce the amounts of other liquids in the recipe.
· Honey is slightly acidic, so you can balance this with a little baking soda.
· Honey causes baked goods to brown faster, so to counterbalance this you can turn your oven down a bit (approximately 25 degrees Fahrenheit should do the trick).
Honey’s Medicinal Qualities: Honey is completely marvelous in so many ways. In addition to its delicious taste and nutrition, raw honey has many medicinal uses. According to Dancing Bee Gardens, “Honey has a long history of medicinal use dating back thousands of years. While the health and healing properties of honey are wide and varied, it is raw honey's antibacterial and antifungal properties that make it ideal for use on wounds, burns and infections. With its low pH and high sugar content, honey inhibits the growth of pathogens in much the same way that sugar is used to preserve jams and jellies. The hygroscopic nature of honey allow it to draw the moisture out of any bacteria or mold that are unfortunate enough to find themselves in contact with it. In this way, the bacteria found in infectious wounds are dehydrated and killed off by the application of honey. As if that was not enough, honey contains the enzyme glucose oxidase that upon contact with the skin, breaks down and slowly releases hydrogen peroxide in the process. Thus, honey provides a degree of antiseptic action that is unparalleled in the world of medicine.”
Black Forest Bran Muffins
(Yield: 12 muffins)
2 large eggs
⅓ c canola oil
½ c honey
¾ c reduced-fat milk (I used 1%)
2 teaspoon almond extract (or pure vanilla extract)
1 c wheat bran
1 c plus 1 TB whole wheat flour, divided
1 teaspoon each baking powder and baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ c dark chocolate chips
½ c dried cherries
½ c chopped pecans or any nuts you like (optional)
3 teaspoon turbinado sugar
12 paper liners (if using)
Preheat the oven to 375F. Beat together the eggs, oil, honey, milk, and almond/vanilla extract. In a separate bowl mix together the bran, 1 c flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the chocolate chips, cherries, and nuts with the remaining 1 TB flour and stir to coat. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet, then stir in the chips/cherries/nuts until just mixed (be careful not to overmix or your chips/cherries/nuts will lose their flour coating and sink to the bottom of your muffins). Fill the muffin tray and sprinkle ¼ teaspoon turbinado sugar on top of each muffin. Bake for 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly moist with just a few crumbs (careful not to overcook so they won't be dry).