While I generally prefer my muffins to have fruit or nuts in them, I do like a muffin with a bit of chocolate in it from time to time as more of a treat. Chocolate chips are always on hand and are so easy to stir into a batch of muffins to get a chocolate fix early in the day. In my kitchen, I actually have more than a few kinds of chocolate chips at any given time and chose dark chocolate to be the star of this batch of muffins. I added in some ground and candied ginger to give the muffins’ flavor a little more depth.
Candied ginger and dark chocolate go very well together. The ginger has a hot, spicy taste that is curbed by the crunchy layer of sugar surrounding it. The sugar from the ginger also serves to mellow the dark chocolate a bit. I like to buy crystallized ginger chips to use for baking because of their convenience and high sugar-to-ginger ratio, but the muffins will turn out to be equally tasty if you buy your ginger in larger bits and have to chop it yourself. Make sure the ginger pieces are fairly small, perhaps only half the size of the chocolate chips, to get the best distribution in the batter.
The finished muffins are beautiful to look at. The batter is thick and can be heaped into the muffin tin, rising well above the top of the pan. This allows the muffins to rise high and end up with beautiful, bakery-style muffin tops. These muffins are absolutely best when they are fresh from the oven and still slightly warm. The cake is soft and fluffy, the ginger is tender and sweet, and – best of all – the chocolate is slightly melty. Delicious, and just a bit different than your standard muffin fare. They do keep well, but it wouldn’t hurt to pop them back into the oven for 3-4 minutes at 350F (or even to put them in the microwave, if that’s all you have) to get the full effect of the chocolate.
Chocolate Chip and Candied Ginger Muffins
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk (low fat is ok)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, dark or semisweet
3/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 375. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground ginger.
In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, egg, buttermilk, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour into dry ingredients and stir just until no streaks of flour remain. Stir in chocolate chips and candied ginger.
Divide batter into prepared muffin tin, overfilling each muffin cup so that the batter rises above the top of the pan slightly.
Bake for 18-21 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.
Serve slightly warm, or at room temperature.