Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Muffins

My dear friend Megan recently had a birthday and since we couldn't celebrate together earlier in the month, I hosted a belated birthday brunch for her and her family. It was a great time to catch up and of course, a delicious reason to prepare some dishes. When I asked Megan what she's been craving lately, she didn't hesitate to confess her love of sea salt caramel and chocolate. With that, I set out to look for something that would fit my brunch menu and satisfy Megan's craving. What I came up with were these Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Muffins that were to.die.for. These were one of the most chocolatey muffins I've ever made and the sweet caramel drizzle with a sprinkle of sea salt made it even more indulgent!...

I was so happy to hear Megan's request for something involving sea salt caramel and chocolate. It's a flavor combination I like myself and I had so much fun coming up with a dessert that would fit my brunch menu. These muffins are loaded with chocolate within the batter and they're studded with bittersweet chocolate chips. To garnish, I used a buttery caramel topping that I drizzled on and sprinkled a bit of sea salt over the top.

Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Muffins
recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

2/3 cup (2 ounces) Dutch-proces cocoa
1 3/4 cups (7 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups (9 3/8 ounces) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter, melted
caramel ice cream topping for topping
sea salt for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend; there's no need to beat these muffins, just make sure everything is well-combined.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin; the cups will be heaped with batter, and the muffin will bake into a "mushroom" shape.

Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven, and after 5 minutes remove them from the pan, allowing them to cool for about 15 minutes on a rack before peeling off the muffin papers or silicone cups.

Drizzle with caramel sauce and sprinkle with sea salt before serving. Makes 12 muffins.