At only 162 calories each, they’re the healthiest chocolate muffins you’ll ever eat!
When Dad and I visited Washington, DC in August on our baseball trip, we stumbled upon the Corner Bakery Café as we dragged our suitcases from Union Station to our hotel. After a quick peek at their menu online in our room, we raced to the elevator and punched the button for the lobby. Healthy salads at last!
I ordered the Asian Wonton Salad, and we sat on the patio to eat as dusk fell on the humming city and businesspeople rushing to catch their trains. I boxed up half of the humongous salad for the following evening, but we still returned…
In case you’re new around here, I am the world’s biggest chocoholic. And after three days of withdrawals, my mind started spinning faster than a top to pick which treat to eat. Daddy laughed at my dilemma, as well as the sweet gentleman behind the counter, and they let me pick two.
I finally settled on the chocolate chip cookie and chocolate muffin, and Daddy added the chocolate bundt cake for himself. The adorable cashier threw in a second cookie too—on the house!
I bounced up and down in the patio chair, as giddy as a five-year-old on Christmas morning. I sampled teensy bites of each, including one or two Dad generously offered me from his cake, to decide which I enjoyed most so I could save it for last. (Do you do that too: save the best for last?)
I always favor soft chewy cookies, but those chocolate chip ones felt firmer than I like, as if the bakers left them in the oven for a few extra minutes. (I still polished off both, with a little help from Dad… I had run around the Capitol Mall in the humidity that morning and was still starving!)
But the muffin… The chocolate muffin… The melted pockets of mini chocolate chips slid smoothly across my tongue, and the moist crumbs clung to my teeth and lips.
Except for the thing layer of grease that coated the brown bag, paper napkins, and tips of my fingers. Most bakeries mix in lots of oil or butter to their muffin batters to keep the treats so moist, but I knew I could create a healthier-but-just-as-decadent version.
To make my lighter Double Chocolate Muffins, you’ll start with the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. The 1 cup of whole wheat flour adds extra fiber and nutrients, but because you add in 1 ¼ cups of cocoa powder, you can’t actually taste it. (Super sneaky, right?)
You’ll want to use regular unsweetened cocoa powder, not Hershey’s Special Dark, because it’s slightly more acidic. This means it’ll react better with the basic baking powder and baking soda to prevent the centers from turning too dense. You’ll also add a little lemon juice to the wet ingredients for the same reason. (Just a touch for texture—not enough to taste!)
There are only 1 ½ tablespoons of oil in this entire recipe! The majority of the moisture comes from skim milk and nonfat Greek yogurt. Because of the extra protein in the Greek yogurt, you don’t need any eggs, which means you can (safely) lick the spoon! (And the spatula… And the bowl… And your fingers… That’s what I did!)
To make my chocolate muffins even skinnier, I mixed in Granulated Splenda and Truvia instead of sugar. In sugar-free baked goods (like these), I generally use a mix of sugar substitutes to reduce the possibility of a chemical-ish aftertaste. If you prefer different sweeteners, use the equivalent of ½ to ¾ cup sugar (less for darker chocolate muffins, more for sweeter).
And now for the most important part…
There are 3 secrets to making tall bakery-style muffins:
- Make the batter thick. It should be scoopable, not thin and pourable like crêpe or cupcake batter.
- Fill the muffin cups to the brim. To make a taller domed top, you need more batter! Half to ⅔-full will not cut it. Don’t be shy—keep adding more!
- Bake the muffins at 425°F for a few minutes to start. Only about 5-8 minutes. Then immediately reduce the heat to 350°F without opening the oven door. The high initial temperature quickly activates the baking powder and baking soda. Along with an internal burst of steam, this makes the muffin tops rise really fast and stay vertical, instead of billowing out horizontally over the sides of the tin. It must be 425°F. (Trust me… I tried 375°F and got the sideways spread.) Create a sauna in the oven and your muffins will be happy!
With so much cocoa powder and an extra sprinkling of chocolate chips on top, these will be the moistest, richest, most decadent Healthy Double Chocolate Muffins you’ll ever taste. They satisfy even the staunchest of chocoholics, but if you still find yourself reaching for another one…
Go ahead. I certainly did. They’re only 162 calories each—no (guilty) strings attached!