Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mint Chocolate Chip Muffins

 When it comes to holidays, I'm a giant food nerd. Valentine's day? Chocolate is a must. Christmas cookies? Count me in. The only thing that kept me from baking a pie on Friday (3.14, Pi Day, get it?) was that I didn't get home until eleven, and even I'm not a big enough pie fan to put myself through a midnight baking session without a particularly pressing reason.
  So with St. Patrick's Day around the corner, I felt something festive was necessary. While you're much more likely to find my friends and I sitting in math class tomorrow than bar-hopping, we can celebrate anyway, can't we?
 When I tried to think of a list of green foods, the first thing that came to mind was mint chocolate chip ice cream. This worries me slightly, because (1) I feel that the appropriate reaction would have been to think of spinach or kale or even broccoli, and (2) mint chocolate chip ice cream isn't even naturally green to begin with, as it gets its vibrant color from copious amounts of food dye.
 Nevertheless, mint chocolate chip ice cream it was. The issue was that I really didn't have time to be cooking custard or waiting for ice cream to churn, and I wanted something I could throw in a plastic bag and share with friends at school. So I took my favorite muffin recipe and threw in some ice cream flair. And the result was a batch of Shamrock-green, minty little cakes that are great any day of the year.
Mint Chocolate Chip Muffins
(adapted from this base recipe)

 3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
                                                    1 teaspoon salt                                                    
 2 eggs, room temperature preferred
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons mint extract (you may have to adjust this based on the strength of your extract)
1/2 teaspoon green food coloring (again, adjust based on strength and desired color)
1 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate chips
coarse or pearl sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray 15 muffin cups with non-stick spray or line with muffin liners. Set aside.
In a large bowl, gently toss together flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until all dry ingredients are combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until combined. Mix in milk, oil, vanilla, mint extract, and food coloring. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together by hand with a wooden spoon. Avoid over-mixing. Gently mix until all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl and no big pockets of flour remain. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top. Top with a sprinkle of coarse or pearl sugar, if preferred. Bake at 425F degrees for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and continue to bake for 18 minutes until tops are lightly golden and centers appear set.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan before moving to cooling rack.
     -Makes 15 muffins

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