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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vegan Black Forest Muffins

What's the difference between a muffin and a cupcake?

Not much if you buy them at most coffee chains like Starbucks, Second Cup, Tim Hortons, etc. Most commercially made muffins are full of fat and sugar, made with some or all refined flour, and can contain more than twice the calories of a donut! Because they are so processed, high in sugar, and low in fibre, even though they can be huge, they don't keep you feeling satisfied for long and they certainly won't give you any long lasting energy. It's a lose-lose if you ask me.

That's why I love making home-made muffins. It is so easy to make healthy, delicious muffins. Make them in big batches and freeze so that you always have them on hand. All it takes is 15 seconds-2 minutes (depending on size and quantity!) in the microwave and you've got a tasty, healthy treat. Now that's the best way to have your cake and eat it too!

The girls love having muffins for breakfast or snacks and I feel good about giving them healthy, homemade ones.

These ones are a little more indulgent than the ones I usually make for the kids because I wanted to come up with a special Valentine's recipe. Really they border on (healthy) cupcake territory. Actually, they are so fudgy because you chop the chocolate right into the batter, they are a bit brownie-like too.

I often try to make my baked goods dairy free, when possible, because Adam is lactose intolerant, and I enjoy experimenting with vegan recipes because I want them to appeal to the broadest number of people. If you have to avoid gluten, these might work if you sub gluten-free oat flour or quinoa flour for the spelt. I made these nut free as well so that they can be taken to school/daycare.

I guarantee whether or not you eat dairy, are a carnivore, omnivore, or vegan, you will love these unbelieveably chocolatey treats. If you really, truly want them to be a cupcake, you can guild the lily and frost them with chocolate frosting or for a healthier option, add a dollop of non-dairy "healthy top" whipped topping before serving.

1 cup apricot puree*
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar or equivalent amount of alternative granular sweetener (Xylitol, stevia, Splenda, coconut sugar...whatever floats your boat)
2 flax eggs (2 tbls ground flax + 6 tbls hot water, stir and let sit until consistency of egg whites)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (or regular milk or water)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or 1/2 cup broken up pieces of my healthy vegan milk chocolate bars, which is what I used!)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1.5 cups spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cherries

*For apricot puree, take about 4-6 fresh or frozen apricots (or you can use pears or peaches...or sub apple sauce in a pinch), pit and chop them and microwave until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Puree in blender or food processor.

In your food processor, add apricot puree, sweetener, oil, vanilla and flax eggs and milk or water. Process until blended. Scrape down sides of bowl and add cocoa powder and chocolate chips/pieces. Pulse a few times. Add all remaining ingredients except for cherries and pulse, just until combined. Stir in cherries by hand. Scrape batter into greased or paper lined mini muffin tins. Bake at 375F for about 12 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean, but muffins are still moist. Let cool completely before removing from tins. Makes about 28-30 mini muffins. The recipe makes about 14 large muffins - which will take about 16-18 minutes of baking time (just be careful not to overbake!). Freezes well.

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