Found some overly ripe bananas lying around so decided to seize the opportunity and do something about it. Inspired by Nigella’s banana chocolate muffin recipe, I decided to put to good use my Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa I purchased from Ghiradelli Square last year in San Francisco and whip out my pretty blue and white striped muffin paper cups for display. Despite Nigella’s recipe says the batter can make 12 muffins, I guess I was too overly generous with my serving sizes since I only ended up with 5 muffins (albeit steroid-sized). I handed out my muffins to my friends the next day and the feedback was that they all thought it was delicious and super moist, not too oily or sweet.
The beauty of this recipe is that it is very straightforward and pretty fail-safe. In less than thirty minutes, you will end up with super moist muffins bursting with the goodness of banana and paired with the richness of premium cocoa.
INGREDIENTS: (makes 12 small or 5 gigantic muffins)
- 3 very ripe or overripe bananas
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli), sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch salt, optional (I skipped)
- Icing sugar, to dust (optional)
1) Preheat the oven to 400˚ F / 200˚C and line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups. Show no mercy and mash the bananas.
2) Beat in the oil with a whisk, followed by the eggs and sugar.
3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add this mixture to the banana mixture and stir gently until combined. Spoon into the muffin cups.
4) Bake for 15-20 minutes, by which time the muffins should be dark, rounded and peeking proudly out of their cups. Let cool slightly in the pan before removing to a wire rack.
5) Once cooled, dust with icing sugar.
Chocolate fondant. Molten lava cake. The dessert worth waiting for and saving your calorie quotient for the entire week. As complicated as it may appear, don’t be fooled – this little decadent dessert is actually deceptively simple to make. Timing, is key, but once you’ve mastered that I can assure you that in no time you would be whipping up batches of these hot chocolate puddings to impress your guests. The fondant has surely taken centre stage in the arena of desserts, being a firm favourite with dinner party hosts and Valentine’s day diners around the world, hoping to impress their guests with a tried and tested formula of seductive chocolate indulgence. Even Gordan Ramsay claims that the fondant is his best selling dessert in his restaurants! As for the origins of this pure decadent indulgence, who would have thought that this classic of French cuisine was only discovered thirty years ago, when triple Michelin starred chef Michel Bras created a dessert with a frozen chocolate ganache centre. His application for a patent on this molten-middled cake never came through – as evident from the dish’s appearance on menus in all corners of the world. Bad news for Bras, but brilliant for the millions of chocolate lovers everywhere who might otherwise never have tasted the beauty and richness of this simple little cake.
INGREDIENTS (4 servings):
- 4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing ramekins
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup golden granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 8 ounces (~175g) bittersweet chocolate, melted
- Icing sugar, for dusting
1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Butter 4 ramekins/pudding moulds/muffin tins. 2) Melt the chocolate using the double boiler method, gently stirring until everything is dissolved to a smooth consistency. Set aside to cool to room temperature (Disclaimer: These aren’t my pair of hands – yes, that’s right folks, I don’t have “man hands”). 3) Melt butter using the same method (or microwave) and let it cool to a moderate room temperature. Pour the butter and stir in the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add the pinch of salt. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon or spatula. 4) Next, stir in the flour until just combined. The mixture should thicken at this stage. 5) Crack the eggs into the mixture, one at a time, stirring after each addition until you get a smooth consistency. 6) Divide batter evenly among the prepared buttered ramekins. 7) Place on tray and shove into the preheated oven for 10-11 minutes. (NB: once you’ve made them a couple of times you’ll know exactly how ‘molten’ you like them so can adjust timing accordingly for a more molten or firmer lava cake). 8) Remove from oven and let stand for a couple of minutes. To serve, turn out the cakes onto serving plates bottom side up, and dust with icing sugar. Accompany with mixed berries and a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream. Voila! Sinful indulgence.
Bouchon Bakery has always been one of my most loved bakeries of all times (too bad they only have it in NYC). Seeing I had a 100g pack of 70% dark chocolate from KoKo Black (artisanal chocolate shop in Melbourne) lying around the house and a pack of 100% unsweetened cocoa from Ghiradelli I purchased in my California trip in June, nothing came to my mind more than the urge to make some decadent chocolate bouchons for my relatives visiting from Holland.
These are no ordinary chocolate muffins. The richness and intensity of the dark chocolate, coupled with a brownie-like consistency will literally blow your mind. These chocolate cakes derive their name from their shape, which resembles a cork, or bouchon in French (admittedly, mine don’t resemble the classic bouchon shape as I didn’t have timbale moulds so opted for the regular muffin tin instead). They make for an excellent dessert when paired with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream or can simply be eaten alone as a decadent chocolate treat.
Here is my modified version of Timothy Keller’s luscious chocolate bouchons from the cookbook “Bouchon”.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 12 ounces unsalted butter, melted and still hot
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (either chocolate chips or 70% dark chocolate block bashed into small pieces)
- confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- 8-12 timbale molds, bouchon molds or a muffin pan
1) Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius. Butter and flour timbale moulds or muffin pan. Set aside.
2) Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside.
3) In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick and very pale in colour. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then one-third of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine.
4) Spoon the batter into the moulds or muffin tin. Place in the oven and bake for 25-28 minutes (reduce the time to 20 minutes if using regular muffin tin). When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test one cake with a wooden skewer or toothpick: It should come out clean but not dry (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate). Transfer the bouchons to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the timbale moulds and let the bouchons cool upside down in the moulds; then lift off the moulds.
5) The bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked. To serve, invert the bouchons and dust them with confectioners’ sugar.