A surprisingly healthy & low fat breakfast treat!
After three weeks of procrastinating, I finally resolved to stop by the bank before it closed yesterday to fix a minor misunderstanding with my account. Playing it safe, I changed out of my usual blogging uniform (yoga pants and a Target tank top), draping a gauzy floral scarf around my neck and pulling on high-heeled boots instead before heading out the door.
Two kind ladies quickly handled my queries, setting numbers straight and sending me off with a smile in a matter of minutes. Surprised by their speed, I used that unexpected spare time to stop by Safeway on the way home. My guy practically begged me to buy sourdough bread for his sandwiches before I left for the bank, and I desperately needed raspberries for a new recipe too (coming next week!).
We live in a college town where nearly half of the city’s population falls between the ages of 18 and 22, and since our house sits on the same street as 3 different apartment complexes—and only a quarter-mile from the grocery store—I run into the university kids fairly often, especially in the supermarket aisles. Lately, most of those students seem to prioritize midterms, workouts and parties ahead of politeness and manners. Although rarely outright rude, they’re generally a little more oblivious and less conscientious than the regular town residents, so I’ve started to expect that attitude from everyone when out running errands.
While blitzing from the bakery bread to frozen fruit, I spotted a young college kid standing in front of an end cap with bags of bagels. I directed my path behind him to avoid obstructing his view while he contemplated his choices, but upon spotting me striding nearer, he insisted on stepping backwards 5 feet and motioned to me to take the shorter walking distance. Maybe it was my fancier attire, or maybe he was more mindful than his peers, but that simple action startled me, and I smiled at him in gratitude.
After loading my bags into the backseat, I sat in front of the wheel rummaging through my purse for chapstick. I glanced up, noticing a poised college girl patiently waiting with her empty shopping cart for me to pull out of the parking space so she could return it to the corral next to my car. Still shocked by the boy’s behavior near the bagels, I waved at her to go ahead—no need to wait for me to paw through my overstuffed purse!
As she nodded and returned the cart, I sat in astonishment for the second time that afternoon. Not only did she refuse to neglect the cart in a parking lot planter, like many of Safeway’s patrons, but she carefully pushed together all of the haphazardly pointed carts in a straight line to make it easier for store employees to collect them later.
With their unexpected respectful behavior, that pair of college kids completely surprised me!
Although they look fairly typical, these baked goodies contain a sweet surprise just like those young adults—Dark Chocolate Ginger Royal Shortbread! Walker’s shipped me multiple chocolate cookies to sample this month, and I immediately picked those to play with. And this week only (from 2/22/14 through 2/28/14), Walker’s Shortbread is offering all FFTS readers an exclusive 20% off discount on any purchase of regular sale items! Just head on over to www.us.walkersshortbread.com, fill up your shopping cart, and enter the code FSCHOCOLATE2014 at checkout. (These are the ones I used.)
After nibbling on one (or four) of the cookies, my mind swirled with questions, especially, “What flavor should I pair with them?” Fruit always combines well with chocolate, but the bolder taste of ginger generally proves to be a more difficult partner… A few minutes later, I remembered one of my favorite recipes from my eCookbook—ginger pear pancakes—which immediately settled the matter. I’d pair the shortbread with pears!
In honor of Walker’s cookies, I called these little beauties Dark Chocolate Ginger Pear Muffins. With a subtle backdrop of cinnamon and ginger, the tender muffins are bursting with juicy fruit and rich melted chocolate. Soft cookie chunks spice up every bite, giving these breakfast treats the perfect trendy touch. Despite their decadent flavor, the muffins are still healthy and low calorie!
Although most muffin recipes simply mix the wet and dry ingredients together, I decided to do something a little different with these. I treated the batter like cupcakes and alternated adding the flour mixture and milk into the egg mixture. Alternating additions are mandatory. They prevent over-developing the gluten, which would turn the muffins tough. Instead, alternating additions create a lighter, more tender crumb that pairs perfectly with the muffins’ delicate flavors. The airy texture is worth the extra step, I promise!
This muffin batter is thick… Really thick. So grab a spoon to scoop it into the muffin cups! A thick batter easily supports the weight of the fruit and cookie chunks and ensures they’ll stay evenly distributed throughout the muffins instead of falling to the bottom. It’s a simple trick, but it works like a charm!
Make sure you set aside some cookie pieces before folding all of them in! I like to press a few little nuggets into the tops of the batter just before baking. It gives the muffins a pretty finishing touch, and if you save some of the dark chocolate slivers too, they melt into irresistible little dollops of decadent bliss.
With their tender crumb and lightly spiced backdrop, these Dark Chocolate Ginger Pear Muffins taste every bit as indulgent as they sound! Sweet fruit, rich chocolate, and bright ginger shortbread combine together to create an incredibly tempting chic breakfast treat that your waistline will love. It’s shockingly skinny and low fat!
So treat yourself to a sweet surprise and bake these tasty muffins today!
*Disclaimer: As part of their Blogger Ambassador program, Walker’s Shortbread sent me these Dark Chocolate Ginger Royal Shortbread cookies free of charge. All text, images, and recipe are my own.