A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in the Marx Foods Chile Recipe Challenge. I was told I would recieve a box of a variety of dried chilies and I was to create an original recipe using at least one of them. As long as I posted it before September 9 I was good.
I was looking forward to it. After all, there are hundreds of different kinds of dried chilies but most people only know about a few of them. How cool is it to get to experiment with the unique flavors of unusual chilies?
One chile in particular intrigued me. It was a large, dark chile called a Mulato and the description said, “Mild. Flavor : chocolate and licorice.
I knew I wanted to use it in something baked. I wanted to use flavors that would not overpower the delicate chile flavors but would instead enhance it. Chocolate but not too much chocolate. Sweet but not too sweet. Muffins!
I was going to put chocolate chips in them but soon realized that my kids had snacked away my chocolate chip stash so I made them without. Feel free to add chocolate chips to yours; I’d suggest bittersweet.
I soaked the chile to soften it and then tasted it for flavor. Delicious but it was milder than I had expected so I went back to the box and pulled out one Puya chile which has a medium heat.
I soaked it along with the Mulato. Save that soaking water because it has a lot of flavor. Use it in broth for any soup or sauce that you want to have a southwestern flavor.
Once the chilies were soft I put them in my little food processor attachment and added a little of the soaking liquid. Use about a tablespoon at a time. Process until you get a smooth paste, adding a little more of the liquid if you need to.
Just a quick hint. Use measured scoops to put batters into your muffin cups and for cookies. Really, I use them for serving as well. The measured scoops ensure that all the muffins are the same size, which means they cook evenly. They come out of the oven uniformly gorgeous – which is always nice. 🙂 You can get them at restaurant supply stores and online at most kitchen stores.
You will get the best results with muffins if you fill the muffin tins quickly and get them in the oven within a few minutes of mixing. Unlike scones, muffins should not have a resting period.
The kitchen smelled amazing as the muffins cooked. I let them cool a little and then tested them on my biggest critics ever. If they were too spicy these critics would walk away in disgust. If the texture was off I was in trouble. If the flavor wasn’t just right I would be passed over for something like Frosted Flakes.
Do you have any idea how mortifying it would be for a food writer/recipe developer to be eschewed in favor of Frosted Flakes?
I watched intently as they slowly pulled the papers off the muffins and sniffed delicately at the slight steam that arose from the pebbled top, a bead of sweat forming on my furrowed brow. One hesitant nibble was taken, and then another. Soon all that was left of the muffins were crumbs on a plate.
You can leave out the Puya chiles for milder flavor or add one more for added spice. If you like something a little sweeter add a sprinkle of sugar to the tops before baking. The chile paste keeps them moist and using buttermilk makes them light. And let’s face it, moms who serve chocolate for breakfast trump Koolaid moms every time.
There will be a reader poll when the recipes go live and I will let you know via RestlessChipotle Facebook when you can vote. Meanwhile, the DFW Most Valuable Blogger Awards vote is still going on and I would love your vote.
Chocolate Chile Muffins
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup peanut oil, (or grapeseed)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large dried Mulato Chile
- 1 dried Puya Chile
- 1 cup boiling water or coffee to soak the chile
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, , optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a muffin pan with liners
- Put the chilies into a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Cover. Set aside for 10-15 minutes to soften
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa, and sugar together
- Stir in chocolate chips if using
- Using a small food processor, process the softened chilies to a paste, using a little of the soaking liquid
- Beat the egg, oil, vanilla, and buttermilk together
- Add the chile paste
- Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients quickly, being careful not to over mix.
- Spoon into lined muffin cups
- Bake 15-20 minutes at 400F
- Let cool a few minutes before serving
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