With this post, we kick off the first annual Love Rules! celebration at LunaCafe. In the spirit of love, then, here is an old Irish blessing that melts my heart every time I hear it:
May the long time sun shine upon you
All love surround you.
And the pure light within you guide your way on.
To hear a sweet and pure musical rendition, check out Grace by Snatam Kaur.
Because Valentine’s Day and chocolate are forever entwined in our minds, we plan to revel in love and chocolate for the next six weeks. Through the end of February, every post will feature chocolate. That’s right: All Chocolate All Month at LunaCafe. The plan is to feature easy, memorable, sharable goodies with interesting twists, such as this delectable little muffin that is guaranteed to add a little love to your morning.
In anticipation of a month (more like 6 weeks) of glorious baking, I scurried around to the culinary outposts in search of heart-shaped molds, cutters, tart pans, muffin pans, and ramekins, preferably in cherry red. Everyone should have a closet full of Valentine’s Day cooking paraphernalia, right? (See some of my favorites in the sidebars.)
The pan featured in this post is the Chicago Metallic Gourmetware Lift and Serve Sweetheart Pan. Each of the indents has a removable bottom, which makes it a breeze to release the baked muffins. The pan is actually intended for mini-cheesecakes, but I have a feeling it will see more muffin batter than cheesecake batter in the OtherWorldly Kitchen.
Next, I went on a chocolate buying splurge. What a pleasure and an education to have a plethora of cocoa powders and bar chocolates on hand to compare, both as is and in desserts. I will share more on the chocolate tasting front with you in upcoming posts. But for now, on to baking these special muffins.
A lot of folks love chocolate with raspberries, but for some unfathonable reason, I’m not one of them. I do, however, LOVE sour cherries with bittersweet chocolate. And what better time to serve these delicious morsels than on Valentine’s Day morning to the love-of-your-life? And if that happens to be none other than Sweet Adorable You, that’s perfect too. J
The texture of this muffin is tender and moist with a medium grain. In fact, it’s almost cake-like. A typical cake method is used here: The butter and sugar are creamed together, the egg is added in small increments, and the flour and liquid are added alternately to finish. The texture will be perfect if all ingredients are at 70° room temperature, and you do not over mix when adding the flour and sour cream mixture.
Bittersweet Chocolate & Montmorency Cherry Muffins
This lovely muffin is special enough for Valentine’s Day morning or afternoon tea any day of the year.
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, cool room temperature
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ cup super-fine sugar (regular sugar will also work)
2 large eggs, cool room temperature and lightly beaten (3¼ ounces or scant ½ cup)
¾ cup sour cream, cool room temperature
¼ cup whole or 2% milk, cool room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Montmorency (sour) dried cherries (5 ounces), hydrated by covering with boiling water for 10-15 minutes and then drained
2 ounces superb bittersweet chocolate, chopped into ¼-inch-size squares (Two of my current favorites: Swiss Lindt Excellence Intense Dark 70% cacao and French Michel Cluizel “Conception” Venezuela Noir 66% cacao)
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 ounces) and ½ cup cake flour (2¼ ounces) (or 2 cups pastry flour)
INGREDIENT NOTE You can increase the amount of chocolate up to 3.5 ounces, but the cherries will then play a very subordinate flavor role.
1.Before you begin, be sure to complete the above mise-en-place, which includes chopping the chocolate and hydrating the cherries, and bringing the butter, dairy products, and eggs to cool room temperature.
2.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed until softened, about 1 minute.
3.Add the sugar and continue mixing until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes, stopping the mixer 2 or 3 times to scrap down the sides of the bowl.
4.While the butter and sugar are mixing, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flours and reserve. Also, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sour cream and milk, and reserve.
5.Add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture, a tablespoon at a time, mixing well between each addition. The glossy appearance of each egg addition should be gone before you add the next tablespoon of egg.
6.Using low speed on the mixer, and starts and stops, quickly and gently incorporate the flour and sour cream mixture in three portions each, beginning and ending with the flour. Stop mixing before the batter is fully incorporated.
7.Remove the paddle attachment and bowl, and then quickly fold in the cherries and chopped chocolate.
8.Coat the inside cavities of a 12-unit, 4- to 5-tablespoon capacity, mini-muffin or popover pan with vegetable spray. (I am using the Chicago Metallic, 12-unit, 1/3-cup individual capacity with removable bottoms, heart-shaped, mini-cheesecake pan.) Fill each cavity about ¾-full with batter. If the batter will not fill all of the cavities, fill those empty cavities half full with water. Otherwise, fill a bread pan or baking dish with 1 cup hot water and place on the lower rack of the oven 10 minutes prior to putting the muffins in the oven.
9.Bake at 350°, on the upper middle rack of the oven, for 22-25 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned.
10.Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove muffins carefully from the muffin tin and cool further on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
More Chocolate Recipes from LunaCafe:
- A Gift of Drinking Chocolate
- Bittersweet Chocolate & Cabernet Butter Cake
- Bittersweet Chocolate & Toasted Walnut Cookies Perfecta Mundo
- Bittersweet Chocolate Orange French Toast for Lovers
- Burnt Sugar & Rosemary Chocolate Tarts
- Caramelized Ancho Chile & Cinnamon Almonds
- Chocolate & Warm Winter Spice Butter Crisps
- Chocolate Almond Pound Cake
- Chocolate Shortcake with White Chocolate Crema, Strawberry Lime Sauce & Strawberry Lime Salsa
- Fried Banana Split with Mexican Chocolate Sauce & Strawberry Lime Salsa
- Heavenly Chocolate Beet Tea Loaf
- Heavenly Chocolate Crepes
- LunaCafe OtherWorldly Silky Fudgy Brownies
- LunaCafe’s Ultimate Chocolate Pudding
- Luscious White Chocolate and Raspberry Rose Petal Cheesecake
- Mexican Hearts of Fire Cookies
- Mexicano Chocolate Ebelskivers (Aebleskivers)
- Naughty & Nice: Chocolate Toasted Coconut Bars
- Oh You Great Big Beautiful Blondie
- Pumpkin Spice & White Chocolate Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Spice Hot White Chocolate
- Quintessential Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
- Rosalyn’s Toasted Coconut White Chocolate Dream Pie
- Spirited Mocha Crepes with Peanut Butter Caramel, Peanut-Cocoa Nib Brittle & White Chocolate Crema
- White Chocolate, Cardamom & Coconut Beignet