I decided to lean into vegan baking last month, it being Veganuary. I came across a recipe book at the library, The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town by Mellissa Morgan, of Ms Cupcake (a London vegan bakery which sadly closed 2 years ago). First off, this is a fantastic recipe book if you are new to vegan baking. She includes a Quick Start guide with explanation on ingredients, which is useful if, like me, you’ve felt overwhelmed by them, and a guide to baking without eggs and dairy. There is an additional section on substitutions (e.g. if you want to go gluten-free and refined sugar free) and trouble shooting common vegan baking problems. However, as the best way to review a book is to test out the recipes, I duly borrowed the book and tried out the Victoria sponge cake, which turned out very well. Then when my vegan colleague mentioned that she craved muffins, I set out to make them.
Now, there is no double chocolate chip muffin recipe in the book. Therefore, I adapted her mint chocolate chip cupcakes. The first iteration were incredibly good. The texture and the flavour were spot on. I made the first batch with soya milk and another with almond milk. They both worked and the type of plant based milk didn’t make enough of a difference. However, I calculated the amount of sugar in each muffin and at the original 200g in the recipe (which makes 12) that was just over a tablespoon of sugar per muffin. That’s without the additional sugar from the chocolate chips/chunks. A little high perhaps? Thus began a series of experiments to reduce the amount the sugar in the recipe. I detailed it in a little table for you.
|Amount of sugar in the recipe
|Sugar per muffin (approx) without the addition of chocolate
|16.67 (just over a tablespoon)
|1.5 tsp instant coffee
|15g (1 tbsp)
|1.5 tsp instant coffee
|2 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp instant coffee
|10g (2 tsp)
|denser texture, slightly too bitter
|1 tbsp vanilla extract
I took it as low as 120g, which then changed the texture of the muffin so that it becomes denser, slightly stodgy and began to taste a bit soapy and bitter. The chocolate chunks in the muffin masked that unpleasantness. However, let’s be frank. When you bite into a double chocolate muffin, you want it to taste good, not healthy.
So, in the recipe below, I’m going to suggest that you could add anything between 150-180g of sugar. Consult the table above to decide how much sugar you’d like and how to adapt the additional flavourings. I think coffee always complements and enhances chocolate. The vanilla extract brings out sweetness without adding any sugar.
In the end, as I was testing out many variations of this recipe, I decided that I’d halve the recipe each time. That is one of the joys of this particular recipe. It’s pretty simple to scale up or down.
By the way, I like making this in a large measuring jug. It is easier for pouring the mixture into the muffin cases at the end, but a medium sized bowl also works. I alternated between using a whisk and a metal spoon/spatula to mix, but I prefer the whisk for the quantity below.
Top tips: mix until it has just combined and bake them immediately.
Ingredients for Double Chocolate Chip Muffins, adapted from Mellissa Morgan. It will make 12 muffins.
- 200ml unsweetened plant based milk – I tend to use soya milk
- 20ml cider/rice vinegar or lemon juice
- 150-180g caster sugar (my favourite is 180g*)
- 170g self raising flour (or 170g of plain flour and 2tsp of baking powder and omit the 1/4tsp of baking powder that follows)
- 30g cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp baking powder (omit this if you’re using plain flour + 2tsp of baking powder)
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 150g 70%+ dark chocolate roughly chopped up, alternatively use dark chocolate chips (check to see that they are dairy free)
- 80g vegetable oil
- 1 tsp instant coffee granules/powder*
- 2tsp of vanilla extract*
*When using 180g of sugar, add 1 tsp of instant coffee but no vanilla extract. Unless you really want to.
- Mix the soya milk and the vinegar together and set aside for 10 minutes. This makes a soya buttermilk. Then add 1tsp of instant coffee so that it has a chance to dissolve. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and line your muffin tray with muffin cases.
- In a large measuring jug or a medium sized bowl, measure out the dry ingredients, that is the self raising flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb of soda, salt and the roughly chopped dark chocolate. Whisk it together so that they are all combined thoroughly.
- Add the vegetable oil and the vanilla extract (if using) to the curdled soya milk mixture and whisk to combine. Then add this to the dry mixture and mix quickly until just combined. It’s important not to work quickly and not over mix it. If there are a few lumps, that is okay. If it is lumpy, on the other hand, I’d continue mixing it for a few more seconds.
- Tap the jug onto the surface. This stops the raising agents from working too quickly. Then pour or measure out the batter evenly into each of the muffin cases. Tap the muffin tray hard on the work surface to pop the bubbles, then bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. They’re ready when a skewer comes out without cake crumbs but may have a little bit of melted chocolate hanging onto it. Let them cool in the muffin tray for 5-10 minutes before taking them out to cool completely. They will store in an airtight container for 5 days, maybe more..? Honestly, they haven’t made it any further than that in my house.
The verdict? Incredibly good. The texture is airy and light, and the chocolate chunks in the muffin are so satisfying. I always think that almost every chocolate baked good will taste better the next day. So, make them at night and have one for breakfast the next day. 😉
On the note of vegan chocolate. I’ve observed a greater selection of vegan chocolate, which is great. However, they are often much pricier. A lot of dark chocolate, 64%+, is dairy free. I will always check the list of ingredients on the packet before using. I prefer to chop it up roughly and then add it. I haven’t ever checked to see if dark chocolate chips are dairy-free. If you do, then please let me know in the comments.