Bakery Style Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Spice Muffins

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Wow. It has been quite some time since I’ve made an appearance here. That is not to say, of course, that I haven’t been in the kitchen. No, no. I’ve spent countless hours cooking and baking my heart out. I just got out of the groove. I was, perhaps, in a rut. I didn’t feel all too inspired.

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Maybe it was the warmer months that really threw me off. But come Autumn, my favorite season (of course), pumpkin arrives on the grocer’s shelves, the scent of cinnamon fills the air, and the crisp fall breeze gently nudges me back to the kitchen (now that I can bear to turn the oven on). And what better way to start off the season than with warm, comforting, muffins.

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They’re the perfect fall treat, if you ask me. Especially with that big, bakery-style domed top. That is, after all, the best part of a muffin. And, in fact, the only part I would eat as a child. The domed top comes from baking these muffins at high heat for a brief time before lowering the oven to a more traditional muffin making temperature.  These autumn-inspired muffins are full of texture from crunchy toasted hazelnuts, melty chocolate chunks, and the perfect bakery-style streusel topping. A batter full of spicy cinnamon and ginger, along with a healthy dose of molasses, remind us that Autumn is here to stay. Happy first day of Fall (well almost . I just couldn’t wait)! Celebrate with muffins! You’ll thank me, but not before you’ve consumed half the batch in one sitting.

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Bakery Style Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Spice Muffins

Yield: 12 Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flaxseed + 6 tablespoons water)
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry or all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil or other neutral oil*
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks or chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped hazelnuts, divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line or lightly grease a standard muffin tin.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ground flaxseed and water. Set aside to gel for 5 minutes while you mix the dry ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger until dispersed. Set aside.
  4. To the flax egg, whisk in almond milk, 3/4 cup sugar, molasses, coconut oil, and vanilla extract until a homogenous mixture is formed. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and fold in until just combined, then fold in chocolate chunks and 3/4 cup hazelnuts. Be careful not to over mix. The batter will be very thick.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling all the way to the top. Sprinkle with remaining hazelnuts and sugar.
  6. Bake at 425°F for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 24-26 minutes, until golden.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.

Notes

*You can replace up to 1/4 cup of the oil with applesauce

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What are your staples in Autumn? I  can’t seem to help myself from stirring a bit of pumpkin into everything. And apples, oh the apples! My cravings for apples have been simply insatiable. I think I actually screamed a little when I saw Honeycrisps for the first time of the season. I see all sorts of apple filled  goodness in the future. There is serious potential for a pumpkin-apple pairing, too.

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Vanilla Maple Pumpkin Superseed Butter

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Here’s a common scene at the grocery store: I walk down the nut butter aisle, excited to find what’s new and interesting. Something catching my eye. And inevitably, it’s the most expensive thing on the shelf. Sigh… I allow myself these purchases once in a while, but if I were to indulge every time I wanted to, I’d be broke.The funny thing is, a lot of these “specialty” spreads are made of relatively inexpensive ingredients. I recently found Naturally Nutty’s Pepita Sun Seed butter – an irresistible combination of pepitas, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and some lovely warming spices. Pepitas and sunflower seeds are some of the cheapest items I can find in the bulk bins at my local market, so I quickly decided that since I’d already spent ten dollars on the first jar, I’d save a bit of money and make my own!

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Rather than flax seeds, I used chia seeds in my version, and I had just enough hemp seeds left in the pantry to include them, as well. A splash of maple syrup and vanilla extract add wonderful depth to this delightful spread, and a touch of seal salt really makes the flavors shine.

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Roasting the seeds with maple syrup brings out their rich flavors, and caramelizes the maple syrup, creating a brittle of sorts. I can’t say I didn’t sample just a teeny tiny bit of this before turning it into a delectable spread. I’ve been enjoying it with oatmeal, apples, and, of course, straight off the spoon. I’ll have to make more before the week is up!

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You can easily customize this butter with whatever nuts or seeds you have on hand, but keep in mind that the flavor will be affected, especially in more strongly flavored nuts and seeds. I imagine cashews and almonds would make a wonderful base.

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Vanilla Maple Pumpkin Superseed Butter

Yield: About 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw pepitas
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat.
  2. Combine pepitas, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and maple syrup in a large bowl and stir to coat.
  3. Spread mixture into an even layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring 15 minutes through. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer seed mixture to the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Pour in vanilla extract and salt and process until incorporated.
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What are your favorite brands of “gourmet” nut butters? I’ve heard such great things about Nuttzo, but haven’t yet been able to convince myself to spend fifteen dollars on a jar. Maybe someday…

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies

Some flavors are just meant to be together. You know what I’m talking about: Hummus and pita, apples and cinnamon, (almond) milk and cereal, chocolate and peanut butter. Let’s stop there. With the chocolate and peanut butter. The classic flavor combination that it’s nearly impossible not to love. Think about the creamy peanut butter and the melty chocolate mingling together. It’s the definition of synergy. While I’ll never say “no” to chocolate or peanut butter on their own, they’re just that much better when eaten together.

Peanut butter chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies

No matter how many times it’s been done, I never get tired of it. Whether it’s peanut butter straight from the jar followed by chocolate chips right out of the bag, oatmeal with peanut butter and cocoa powder stirred right in, or the ever popular peanut butter cup, you can’t go wrong. Chocolate and peanut butter are quite possibly magical in their ability to taste good together, no matter their form.

Peanut butter chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies

Cookies are, of course, always a winning vessel for chocolate and peanut butter. I decided to whip up a quick batch of cookies when Justin and I had company over, and, wanting to please everyone’s palates, went with the always perfect pairing. It certainly did not fail me (I had to hide half the batch to make sure I’d have enough cookies to take pictures of!) The cookies were a hit with everyone, and I have a new staple recipe to add to my list.

Peanut butter chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies

I was going for an interesting texture in these cookies, so I used chocolate chunks (from a chopped up chocolate bar) rather than chocolate chips for extra melty chocolate goodness. A bit of almond flour stirred into the dough adds (more) nutty flavor, as well as a delicate texture. I used coconut sugar and blackstrap molasses in these cookies, adding sweetness and depth, without that cloying white-sugar taste.

These cookies are great as a simple snack to have with tea, an after dinner treat, or even to give as gifts for the holidays! Try layering the dry ingredients in a mason jar, and include instructions for adding the wet ingredients and baking. Tie it up with a pretty ribbon and your gifting is complete!

Peanut butter chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup creamy almond butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses (I used blackstrap)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick mat.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond butter, coconut oil, applesauce, almond milk, coconut sugar, molasses, flaxseed, arrowroot, and vanilla extract.
  3. Mix in whole wheat pastry flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt until just combined. Fold in chocolate chunks.
  4. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet, leaving an inch between each. Flatten in a criss cross pattern with the tines of a fork.
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until edges are golden. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
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What are your favorite flavor pairings? Any odd combinations that others don’t share your love for? I have a penchant for eating everything with mustard (apples dipped in hummus and dijon mustard is particularly tasty!)

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