Monday, February 10, 2014

Bakery Style Chocolate Muffins

On Saturday morning, our housemates recruited a few people to help them plant some trees in their front yard. I love baking on the weekends and decided to whip up a treat to serve with coffee for the lovely volunteers.

I love chocolate muffins, but let's be honest about what's really happening here. We're eating cupcakes. Cupcakes filled with various chocolate chunks and chips, at around 9 in the morning. Once you face the facts on that, you can move on and just enjoy them. 

I found this recipe on the ever-so-reliable website of King Arthur Flour. I reduced the amount of sugar the original recipe called for and they were still perfectly sweet and delicious. The chocolate chips make this already-dense batter quite heavy, so make sure you give the batter a chance to rest before putting them in the oven.

Chocolate Muffins
Makes 12

2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa (or regular, but Dutch is better!)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

1 tablespoon coarse white or raw sugar (optional topping) 

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line or grease a 12 cup muffin tin. (Lower the temp to 350 right after you pop the muffin tin in, the blast of heat will help raise up the muffin top.)  

-In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips. Set aside.

-In a medium-sized bowl, stir together eggs, milk, vanilla, vinegar and melted butter. (Make sure the butter isn't too hot or you'll cook your egg!) Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Set aside batter and let it rest for at least 20 minutes. (Batter will be thick and dense.)

-Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, all the way up to the rim. Sprinkle with raw or coarse sugar. 

-Pop them in the oven and lower temp to 350 degrees. Cook for 16-20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Allow them to cool for about five minutes before taking them out of the tin. 

Serve warm, preferably buttered and with a cold glass of milk! Yum! I'm so glad we had a house full of people to help me eat these. Also, I need to remind myself not to walk past the bakery section of Costco when I'm waiting for my prescription to be filled so I don't see a tray of chocolate muffins and then come up with an excuse to bake them. Lesson learned.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Great Gift

A couple weeks ago, I got to cash in on my Christmas present from Matt and his mom. It was easily his best gift idea yet! And there are some great ones to compare it to! On Christmas morning, he insisted that I open my present for him last (the man loves a big reveal, what can I say). So, after a lovely, slow morning of drinking coffee, eating scones and opening presents, I finally got to open the poster-sized present leaning against the wall behind the tree.

Before I opened it, he smiled really big and asked if I had any guesses. I didn't! I thought maybe it was a rare poster or a huge picture of us? And started wondering where we were suppose to hang it....

Well, I was surprised. Probably the most surprised I've ever been opening a gift. He gifted me two tickets for us to see Jerry Seinfeld in San Luis Obispo! And then blew them up, with a huge picture of the venue and circled our seats and glued them to a board. He's so tricky! Now, I'm not just your average Seinfeld fan. My family's love for him and the show runs pretty deep. As in, the last time I saw him was in the 4th grade when we all went and saw his stand up show as a family. (I know, I have pretty awesome parents...)

Yet somehow, I had NO idea he was on tour, or whatever comedians go on. So I was incredibly surprised. Don't be thrown off by my fake-looking smile in that picture. There might even be a video of me in Christmas pajamas jumping around screaming with the poster board as I unwrapped it. No, you can't see it.

So, a couple weekends ago we packed up a bag and headed up to SLO for a quick getaway weekend. We love SLO, so getting to spend a night there was like another present in itself. I was REALLY excited for Matt to "meet" Jerry. Plus it was kinda fun to take our babe in utero too. The first time I felt him kick was when we were in the car listening to Bill Cosby's stand up, so the pressure was on. (Don't worry, he loved Jerry too. The kid has great taste.) We headed up there around lunch time, checked into the Peach Tree Inn (not as cute as it sounds) and walked around downtown. We usually leave with a few treasures, but managed to browse through several boutiques, bookstores, and even a baby store and come out empty-handed. Except for a cup of locally brewed coffee, of course.

After a delicious dinner at our favorite spot, it was finally time to see Jerry! He did not disappoint. I actually cried when he came jogging out. I'll chalk it up to pregnancy hormones, but it was so great to see him and hear his voice in person! Like seeing an old friend after a really long time apart. I tried to play it cool, but the woman next to me gave me the weirdest look as I frantically searched for tissue in my bag, sniffling. He was on stage for a couple hours, but it went by so quickly! Probably the first time in months I've gone that long without using the bathroom. It was so, so fun. We laughed, hard. It was such a fun night! 

Something I really love and appreciate about Matt is his ability to be thoughtful on a big and small scale. He's so great at thinking of fun, little getaways for us and is also thoughtful in small ways too. Like last week when I came home from a long day at work to a miniature chocolate muffin from my favorite bakery and a "thanks for being pregnant!" from him. Sorry, I just have to brag about him! He's so sweet. (And really puts the pressure on for gift-giving...I won't even tell you guys what I got him for Christmas. Poor guy.)

I loved getting to spend some time with him before the baby comes. I'm sure we'll have plenty of date nights before May, but there's something about getting out of town together. Especially to one of our favorite spots.

Thanks again, my love!