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Wednesday
Sep122012

BROWN BUTTER ESPRESSO CHIP MUFFINS

While on a phone interview yesterday morning, a woman asked me if my cooking style has changed since I started the site 3+ years ago. First off, I am not a quick draw on those types of questions. I fill silence with a few "ums" and "well..." but it doesn't buy me the time I need to give an adequate answer. I said that I've taken into account what readers seem to respond to, where they comment the most (which I really appreciate), and I try to keep simplicity in mind as that always seems to be the overall theme of popular posts. People like simple - I get that. I like simple too.

I later thought about her questions and the passage of time in this space, and I realize that my cooking here has only changed as my life has changed first. A response to the different chapters of our story - my food somehow emotionally connected to other things going on. In posts of years past, I had mentioned a number of times how I did not like baking. I don't care much for precision or seeing the amount of butter in my cookies (I like to eat it, but maybe I don't want to see it). I would bake because I was building variety here and I wanted to learn, but it was motivated by an obligation of sorts. Those were days where I lived alone in a studio apartment and I mostly cooked for myself. Hugh and I worked on blog posts in my parents' kitchen on days off from work and the last thing my devil of a sweet tooth needed was a bunch of baked goods around. But after a wedding, a full apartment kitchen, and a stand mixer of my own, I now bake pretty frequently. My will power isn't any stronger, but I show love with food. It's a communication tool for me, and if you know anything about love languages this may make more sense and seem a little less eccentric. I bake because it's a way of care taking, it isn't for me, and I didn't really notice it until that lady asked me that question.

Hugh is a sweet-in-the-morning-with-his-coffee guy so I experiment with breakfast goodies (we don't even eat bananas, I just keep them around to go bad so I can make tasty banana bread. I really have gone to the dark side huh?). I tried these muffins for a little something different, as coffee seems to be the way to my husbands heart. The crumb is pretty light, the sweetness is subtle and we've already gone through half of them before a breakfast has passed so I will assume that means they're alright.

BROWN BUTTER ESPRESSO CHIP MUFFINS // Makes 8-10

Inspiration from Cannelle et Vanille and La Tartine Gourmand

These could easily be made gluten free with one quick change - just substitute GF all purpose flour or rice flour for the spelt. Spelt is wheat free, but not gluten free. I would suppose this would also come out well in a smaller sized loaf pan, but I can't attest to this from experience. Let me know if you try it.



  • 1/2 cup/ 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter or coconut oil

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt or applesauce

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 2/3 cup packed muscavado sugar (or light brown sugar)

  • 3/4 cup, spelt flour

  • 1/3 cup oat flour (just grind up some rolled oats)

  • 1 cup almond flour/meal

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1 Tbsp. espresso or finely ground coffee

  • 3 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

  • // streusel //

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or coconut oil

  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar

  • pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350'. Grease a standard muffin tin or fill with paper liners.

Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the solids turn a light brown color, it's a nice shade of amber and it starts to smell nutty. About 10 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool. If using coconut oil, skip this step.

Whisk the eggs, yogurt or applesauce and vanilla together. Once the brown butter is slightly cooled, whisk that in as well. Go ahead, put your nose in there, that smell is all sorts of amazing. In another large mixing bowl, stir the muscavado, spelt flour, oat flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, espresso together to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to mix. Stir in the chopped chocolate but do not overmix.

In another small bowl, for streusel, combine the oats, butter, turbinado and pinch of salt. Press it together with your fingers to mash everything together.

Scoop the batter into the tins about 3/4 full. You will get somewhere between 8 to 10 depending on how you fill them. Sprinkle a bit of streusel on top of each muffin. Bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes or until centers are just cooked through. Remove to cool.

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Reader Comments (73)

Gorgeous! I love the ingredients list--have everything on hand!

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDessertForTwo

I agree with Hugh and you about bananas, there's something weird that happens to them in my stomach so I just get them for bread. This recipe,though, looks like a fun addition to the muffin repertoire!

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhi

Mmm! Brown butter makes almost all baked goods better--especially muffins! As always, lovely photos! :)

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSophie at happyspinach

"I bake because it's a way of care taking, it isn't for me, and I didn't really notice it until that lady asked me that question." I bake for the same reasons. I find it a way of nurturing others, & in the process it's soothing. Although I have to say it's grown on me. Like you, I was turned off by the precision & measurements (I like things to be a bit more free flowing). But I've discovered it's a creative science experiment, one that more often than not tastes good & you'll never know how things will turn out. I like that element of surprise that comes with baking.

(Congrats on your beautiful book, btw.)

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanae @ Bring-Joy

Yum! I have the afternoon free, so I might bake these today! Cozy and delicious, I love it when coffee and chocolate is combined in a sweet treat.

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrederike

Beautiful! Remind me of Heidi's Espresso Banana Muffins from her Super Natural cookbook (which were so good, no surprise there) Espresso and chocolate make a great team. Serendipitous that I have every last ingredient in my wee kitchen :) Quite possibly the best idea for a rainy Friday. Your posts and writing make me long for a coffee date with you more and more. Hoping that can happen someday :)

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessie

I can't agree with you more. My cooking has definitely changed at the same time as my life, the size of my kitchen at the time, the money I had to buy equipment, kids... But that's what I love so much about cooking, always changing, always learning to be a better cook.
And those muffins look pretty good!

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia

I absolutely love the fact that you always give the option to make everything vegan, it's so awesome! And yes there's an inextricable relationship between cooking and real life...one can't change without the other changing!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Welcome to the 'uhm' and 'uh..' club! :) Such awesome flavors going on in these muffins!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

oh my gosh! i would devour this any time of day! wish it was my breakfast right now!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSimply Life

These are so pretty! Awesome idea!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

Yum! I love coffee grounds in baked goods (... and milkshakes). I show love via food as well, so I get you there.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane, Abroad

Oh my gosh, I totally buy into the love languages! I believe in them in my marriage, and also regularly tell parents that they apply to kids too in my work at a school. Glad you mentioned them, I hope they will be fun and interesting for people to discover and test out!

And I'm glad I am not the only one who answers questions better after having time to think... I think maybe it's because I am an introvert? Your posts are always so thoughtful, Sara. Like a pleasant virtual coffee break in the midst of a regular day. Love hearing your musings related to both life and food.

These muffins look amazing, I can almost smell them! Feel like I am at a healthy coffee shop/bakery even though I am sitting at my desk! Love that you combined espresso and dark chocolate. Yum. Somehow the Jocalat bar I packed in my lunch just got a whole lot less exciting. :) As always, thank you for sharing!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSharon @ Granola Meets Grits

These are so beautiful. I have got to create a gluten-free version of these! YUM!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ Tasty Yummies

What a treat! I think I could enjoy these with my coffee too. Shame I can't get Eric to bake for me. Hugh is a lucky guy.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Oh these look so good! I can imagine these as a welcoming treat in winter. Right now I can only imagine baked goods full of apples and plums but this recipe is definitely bookmarked and will be baked as soon as the earth is covered in snow.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSini

These look so, so perfect. My fiancé likes sweets for breakfast, and I do just the same thing with letting bananas get brown so I can make him banana bread/pancakes/muffins.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCara

This looks perfect, coffee and chocolate is a favorite combination of mine, especially in muffin form! I love baking for exactly the same reason, food is love. Maybe it's because I grew up in a very Italian & Greek family and that's basically part of our culture, but hey, I totally get what you're saying. :)

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRikki

these photos. they make my heart beat a little faster. soooo stunning.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCamilla

Brown butter in a muffin is such a great way to add that unique nuttiness - so good! My husband is a huge coffee fan, so he will also love these (and your last post, too!). Thank you!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill @ 42potatoes

I just pulled these out of the oven! They smell heavenly. I'll let my husband try them out first though for his after school snack. He's a coffee fiend, too. Thanks for the recipe!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

In the instructions, you include oat flour, but it's not in the ingredients list. To oat flour or not to oat flour?

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrilana

I'm also wondering about the oat flour. After weeks and weeks of uncomfortable heat we have a cloudy and cool afternoon. I would really love to bake these, they look so good. Greetings from Mexico!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdriana

Yey to getting back into baking! And what a perfect recipe to celebrate with, these look gorgeous.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterthelittleloaf

I can relate with "cooking here has only changed based upon your life changing first." I cooked alone, then with a roommate, now with a husband. And the way to his heart is through chicken and mexican food. Now the occasional chicken breast graces my plate and we have taco night each week. By the way, we loved your chicken with tzatziki recipe.

These muffins sound simple and perfect. Good luck with that interview :)

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteradrienne

Love this! I'm definitely going to try these. My hubs also loves anything with coffee & chocolate :) I can totally relate to how my cooking/baking is directly influenced by different stages of life - the people I'm around, where I'm living, etc. It's really interesting to see how things in the kitchen evolve over time!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany / Offbeat & Inspired

@brilana- sorry for that mistake! yes to oat flour :) they'll still come out fine without it, but will poof up a bit more with it. pardon the typo!

September 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

Just pulled these out of the oven! A couple modifications to accommodate what I had on hand: I used whole wheat flour instead of spelt flour, almond meal, dark chocolate chips, applesauce not yogurt, and no oat flour. Made 10 muffies, they are kinda flat on top, but the flavors are utterly outta sight! You have hard earned my new favorite blog award!

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBKStoddard

@BKStoddard - hi! Thanks for the feedback! The flat top was likely bc of my oat flour typo. With another 1/3 cup dry ingredients, they should poof up a bit more. They will be slightly drier, but still good.

September 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

these look like the best thing to ever eat for breakfast.
And when you create something that you truly love, your emotions and life will always show through. It's great to hear how you have evolved as a person, and a baker, cook, and creative.

September 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterally

These look delicious! I can totally relate to the baking as a way of showing love :) I love baking for others but rarely eat much of the final product myself. (Although I love licking the bowls.)

September 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal

Hello, I just made these muffins today and they turned out so great. I was curious about using such a big amount of gluten free flour, but that was no problem at all. I exchanged the normal spelt flour for whole spelt flour. I also exchanged almond meal with rice flour, because I didn't had it on hand. It is difficult to get it here in the Netherlands ;)
I am looking forward to eat them tomorrow morning ... perfect sunday morning indulgence!

September 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaike

I don't drink coffee but I am rather partial to using it in baking and these muffins sound like a perfect way to start the day. I picked up your book when I was in the US recently and I just wanted to say how much I loved it and more than anything, how much I love your attitude to and how you write about food. Thanks to both of you for creating something really wonderful.

September 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

Oh wow, those last two piccies are to die for! Looks delish read: devilish.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterthecitygourmand

These look sensationally delicous! I can't wait to try the recipe! :) I think what you do is amazing! I love that you do gluten free (which I have tried due to physical troubles) as well as healthy and whole foods and keep those fine tastes in the process! I saw your book trailer (gorgeous filming, by the way!) and am definatley planning on getting my sister (a whole food, "sprouted-everything" freak) your book and am undoubtedly getting a copy for me as well! Thank you for your beautiful work, keep releasing your creativity! :) God bless!

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Sara, these look amazing! I will definitely try them. I love that you gave other ingredient options such as coconut oil and apple sauce. I am so with you on the baking aspect of blogging, except I enjoy baking. I just know that I can't have fresh baked goodies around all the time, no matter how hard I try to make them healthy.

Lately I am learning a lot about love languages, both mine and my friends. It is amazing how important it is to understand how to love well.

Thanks for the post!

Btw, I really like your layout.

September 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJustina

You got me with just two things, muffins and coffee. Yes this would be a lovely combination the world should not miss. Ingenious!!

September 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeane M.

These are beautiful photos, as always, as always. I *love* coffee in my baked goods - when I worked at a bakery I snuck it in everything I could. I've always added ground espresso because I love how beautiful the little flecks are!

September 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersarah

Gorgeous photos - your Hugh is such a talent! And those muffins? Their tops are incredibly perfect. Cannot wait to give these a try.

September 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshlae

I am a "peak at blogs to get inspiration" kind of gal, who all though I have a list of recipes to try, I just never get around to it. But these- I made time for. In a stroke of "man, I just really want to try those" I baked them up at about 8 pm to bring to work the next day.

Let's just say...they may not make it to work.

Delicious. And the crumble on top?? Heavenly.

Thank you!

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Me encantó tu receta, gracias por compartirla.
Saludos desde Buenos Aires...

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFlor

I will be making these for sure! I love it when you post sweet things. Especially sweet things for breakfast! Thank you!

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChelsey

Could these cupcakes be converted to a cake? If so, what size/shape pan would you recommend to use for baking?

Thanks much!
Sheryl in Boston

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSheryl Gallagher

how much oat flour should be included?

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterandrea

I just baked this. Delicious. My fiance came home from work and already had 2 slices. I baked it in a 5.25 x 9 x 2.75" loaf pan. It took almost an hour to bake through. I also used 1/4 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup AP flour in place of the spelt flour since I live in Buenos Aires and can't easily find it.

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

@andrea - refresh the site, I fixed it. Should say 1/3 cup! Thanks!

September 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

I do know the love languages! That reference was not lost on me and that book has been really insightful into my way way of being in my relationship. It's most definitely cheesy, but I completely resonated with the message. P.S. Lovey lookin' muffins!

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKris

I just want to say hi and thank you for your brilliant new cookbook! It looks like I now have a new favourite, and there are quite a few cookbooks on my shelf already... Then again, having followed your nice site for some time now, I can´t really say that I´m surprised. Great work!

Greetings from Helsinki,
Marie

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

Could the batter and streusel be made the night before and baked in the morning? How would you store them overnight?

Thank you!
Jenna

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

Could the batter and streusel be made the night before and baked in the morning? How would you store them overnight?

Thank you!
Jenna

September 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

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