Hey guys! I hope y’all had a wonderful Christmas filled with family, desserts, and love. I know it’s been half a year since I’ve posted, but hey, I’m here now, with these gingerbread muffins that I’ve been dying to share!
Even though Christmas is over, I’m usually still in the holiday spirit until the new year comes around. It honestly hasn’t felt like Christmas this year, like at all. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or that junior year has been mega stressful, or that we didn’t spend Christmas at home. I don’t know… it’s just felt weird. Even crazier: I have not done ANY holiday baking this season. Through the piles and piles of homework and the lengthy marching band season, I was so caught up in getting stuff done that I didn’t realize November and December were flying by. This semester has felt like one big blur – one minute I’m dragging myself out of bed to head to the first day of school, and the next thing I know I’m done with my last final exam and packing my bags for vacation.
However, we still have all of our decorations up, and there are still so many holiday lights up where I live, so I’m trying to take advantage of the fact that it doesn’t feel like the holiday season is over yet! I’m gonna cram in as much holiday baking as I can into these last few days of the decade. Starting with these chocolate chip gingerbread muffins!
These chocolate chip gingerbread muffins are my fav – I’ve always loved having strong, flavorful spices in my desserts, so they were right up my alley. I didn’t do any gingerbread decorating this year, so these were a much easier alternative that took under 30 minutes to throw together. In addition to being a nice, sweet dessert, it’s a great grab-n’-go pastry for the morning. I had two of them this morning, along with a nice hot cup of coffee, and it woke me right up and put me in a good mood for the day!
I also experimented with a new method of baking muffins, and I’m in love with how they turned out! I’ll explain it in greater detail down below, but I switched up the oven temperatures and swapped out a few ingredients that I would have normally used. The result? A moist, fluffy center, with a slightly crunchy muffin top – the perfect consistency for a muffin, IMO!
HOW TO MAKE THE MUFFINS:
The spices: As long as you have cinnamon and ginger, I think you can’t go wrong with any other combination tradition holiday spices, such as allspice or even a pumpkin spice blend. I used nutmeg and cloves, but if you are unable to get access to them, then it’s fine to leave them out. However, I personally think that the cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg/clove combination offers the best amount of complexity and spiciness without being too overpowering.
The molasses: I use this brand of molasses, and it’s worked perfectly well for me every time I use it. Please refrain from using blackstrap molasses: it’s about 45% sugar, while regular molasses is about 70% sugar. It will make your muffins very, very bitter!
Vegetable oil: This is one of the changes I was referring to above, concerning the new method of baking muffins: using oil instead of butter. According to various sources I skimmed through, oil-based cakes tend to bake up loftier and stay moist much longer than cakes made with butter. Although a flavor component is compromised when butter isn’t used, I think the flavors offered by the spices and molasses completely fixed that problem. I’ve always had trouble with muffin consistency, so using oil was life changing! I’m never going back!
Applesauce: yet another change in my muffin-baking methodology. Adding applesauce, like the oil, helps the cake retain its moisture and keeps it from being too crummy and dry.
The sugar: Feel free to substitute the brown sugar with cane sugar if you don’t have any on hand. I’ve made these gingerbread muffins using regular sugar, and the difference is only a subtle change in flavor complexity. I can barely tell the difference. Brown sugar is made of sugar and molasses, and since there is already molasses in these muffins, it’s ok!
Chocolate chips: I love the gingerbread+chocolate flavor combo. It’s awesome. If you don’t like it, feel free to leave out the chocolate. Judgement free zone! (…kinda)
Baking: okay, so if you look at the recipe card down below, you’ll notice the baking process is a little weird. First, I baked the muffins for 10 minutes at 400, then reduce the temperature to 350 and baked for an additional 10 minutes. This is to help form the slightly-crisp-on-the-outside-super-moist-on-the-inside texture. And I LOVE it! I’m not sure if it works as well for other muffin recipes, but I’m definitely going to try, because the texture is great!
I hope y’all aren’t too disappointed about my 6 month long break. It’s really hard to get out of a rut, and get back into the swing of things. I’m working on it, so hopefully this is the longest break I’ll ever take. I love baking, and one of my new years’ resolutions is to pursue my interests more and live an overall less stressful life (not sure how that’s gonna work out, but gotta give it a shot, right?)
Hope you guys are doing well! All the best wishes for 2020 :)
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup applesauce
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix of mini + regular sized ones)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with liners; set aside for later.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, all the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves), and salt.
- In another bowl, add molasses and oil and mix until completely incorporated. Then, mix in the applesauce, brown sugar, egg, and milk.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, along with the chocolate chips, mixing until just combined - Do not overmix! Divide the batter among prepared muffin pan (I used an ice cream scoop to ensure uniformity). Sprinkle some extra chocolate chips on top, if desired.
- Place in 400 degree oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool for a couple minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle over chocolate sauce, if desired. I love eating these in the morning with a warm cup of coffee. Enjoy!