Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Orange, Cranberry and Chocolate Muffins

What could be more seasonal than the smells and flavours of oranges, cranberries, chocolate and cinnamon? All are present in abundance in these muffins, which would make a tasty light breakfast on Christmas Day morning. These muffins may be my entry to December's We Should Cocoa Challenge, but for the moment I want to hold them in reserve; I have other plans using orange and chocolate together, but at this time of year, my plans are often greater than my achievements! If I run out of time or energy, these will be a worthy entrant to the challenge.

I've used this recipe for Orange and Blueberry Muffins, from Dom at Belleau Kitchen, as the base recipe as it's one of the most successful muffin recipes I've tried. It isn't oversweet and the use of oats and oil give more than a passing illusion of healthiness! Instead of fresh blueberries I used dried cranberries presoaked in orange juice, and plain chocolate.

125g dried cranberries
roughly 300ml orange juice (I used juice from a carton; see method for explanation of amount)
100g rolled oats
375g plain flour
200g caster sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (reduced from original recipe)
250ml sunflower oil
3 beaten eggs
1 egg white*
225g blueberries
finely grated zest and juice of 1 large orange, separated
100g plain chocolate, finely chopped

Topping, mix together - 70g turbinado (or demerara) sugar
50g toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon

* the extra egg white was just to use up one that was lurking in my eye-line in the fridge!

Put the cranberries into a small bowl and cover with orange  juice. Soak for at least 4 hours.
Drain the berries, reserving any juice not absorbed. Measure the juice into a jug or cup and make up to 250ml with the fresh orange juice and more juice from the carton if necessary. (I found I needed only about another 30ml of carton juice)
Pre-heat the oven to 200C, 180C fan
Mix the rolled oats into the orange juice and set aside while you mix the batter.
In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Make a well in the centre and add the oat mixture, eggs + extra white and oil, and mix until the flour is just incorporated. Stir in the orange zest, cranberries and chocolate.
Fill muffin cases 3/4 full and sprinkle the top of each with just under a teaspoon of the topping mixture.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a test probe is clean (mine took 22 minutes this time, perhaps due to the extra egg white).

I made 22 muffins from this mixture.

These muffins don't appear to rise a lot, but they still have a good light, but moist, texture. All the separate flavour elements in these muffins could be tasted, and the turbinado sugar and hazelnuts gave a lovely crunchy contrast to the soft crumb and chewy cranberries. The only improvement I could see was perhaps a little more cinnamon in the topping - perhaps another 1/2 teaspoon.

Note Added 18th Dec - I'm pretty sure now that I'm going to run out of time. The next Chocolate/Orange combination I bake will be my Christmas Cake, which will be made on Christmas Eve. Even after it's finished, I probably won't have time to post about it by the We Should Cocoa deadline. So this is now officially my entry to the December Challenge, which was to use orange in combination with chocolate. This month's challenge is hosted by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog, and you can also find the rules on her Blog if you want to join in with future challenges.


Katie said...

The muffins look delicious, especially with the nutty cinnamon sprinkle. I love all the cranberries in there, so festive

Anonymous said...

These look great - I was thinking about doing a chocolate - orange - cranberry combination for We Should Cocoa too!

Foodycat said...

They sound delicious! Very festive!

snowy said...

Great festive muffins. Love the combination of ingredients.

Phil in the Kitchen said...

Lovely muffins - the topping is especially inviting. I suppose that I'm going to have to admit that it's cranberry time again.

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

I think cranberries are really festive! I love the combination of ingredients here too. Good work!

GG said...

Great looking muffins, real Christmassy flavours, well done. GG

C said...

They look great - really festive and I like your crumb shot at the end. I love it when you get a crunchy topping to contrast with the soft cake part. Yum.

Looking forward to seeing if anything else chocolate and orange materialises!

Choclette said...

Suelle - you are a star. I need to bake a load of cakes for a solstice bonfire event and they need to be something that can easily be eaten without plates. I was thinking about making some mincemeat cupcakes/muffins, but wanted something else festive but different for the non mincemeat lovers and was undecided. I think I've now made a decision. Really like the inclusion of oats and the topping sounds wonderful.

celia said...

Suelle, how festive they look! I love the splashes of red...

Suelle said...

If you do make them, I hope you enjoy them as much as we did, Choclette!

Lottie @ Lottiesworldofcakes said...

Sounds like a good combination!

Choclette said...

The bonfire was sadly cancelled due to excessive amounts of mud! I was very sorry to miss the party but rather relieved about trying to bake loads of cakes whilst still at work. So, I didn't get to make these after all.

Suelle said...

It's a shame your party was cancelled, Choclette, but less work is no bad thing!

Scotkat said...

Must try these muffins recipe looks so tasty.