Are they muffins, or are they cupcakes? While these may be a bit too sweet for the breakfast table, they can be enjoyed as an afternoon snack. They're the chocolatiest muffins around. Grown-ups love them with their coffee or tea, and kids devour them with a glass of milk. With a little frosting spread on top, I've served them to the kids as party cupcakes, too. From the Healthy Oven Cookbook


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  • Prep Time


  • Total Time


  • Servings



  • Nonstick canola oil spray

  • cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into measuring cup and level top)

  • ½

    cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (spoon into measuring cup and level top)

  • teaspoons baking powder

  • ½

    teaspoon baking soda

  • teaspoon salt

  • 1

    ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

  • ¾

    cup sugar

  • 1

    cup unsweetened applesauce

  • ½

    cup low-fat buttermilk

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1

    tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

  • 2

    teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1

    teaspoon instant espresso powder

  • Fudgy Chocolate Frosting


Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray twelve 2 3/4 X 1 1/2-inch nonstick muffin cups with oil. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Set aside. Melt the chocolate according to the instructions under NOTES. Let the chocolate cool until tepid, but still liquid. In a medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer set at high speed, beat the melted chocolate with the sugar, applesauce, buttermilk, egg, melted butter, vanilla, and espresso powder until frothy, about 2 minutes. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the applesauce mixture. Using a spoon, stir just until combined. Do not overmix. Divide the batter equally among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until the tops fell firm when pressed in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool in the pan on a wire cake rack for 10 minutes before removing from the cups. Cool completely on the wire cake rack, then, if desired, frost the muffins. NOTES: Bittersweet chocolate is usually European, but there are some American versions. Do not confuse it with unsweetened chocolate, which has no sugar at all. Professional quality bittersweet chocolate is now available at specialty food stores. Keep in mind that some of those varieties are very bitter, and are not to everyone's taste. (Usually, the higher the percentage of cocoa solids listed on the package, the more bitter the chocolate. A 70 percent cocoa solids chocolate is pretty bitter, and few kids will like it.) I like Baker's and Hershey's bittersweet chocolate, found in grocery stores. Semisweet chocolate, although somewhat sweeter, can be substituted for bittersweet. Chocolate burns easily, so be careful when melting it. My favorite way to melt chocolate is the way my mom taught me. Place the unchopped square of chocolate on a piece of aluminum foil and put it in the oven while it is preheating. It will take about ten minutes for the chocolate to melt--check it often and press it with your finger to gauge its progress. If you want to speed the process, chop the chocolate in even pieces and place it on the foil. When the chocolate has melted, let it cool until tepid and scrape it onto the batter with a rubber spatula. Chocolate can also be melted in a microwave oven. Place one ounce or more of finely chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on Medium (50 percent) checking occasionally until the chocolate looks shiny (it won't look melted), two to four minutes, depending on the brand. Let stand for thirty seconds or so, then stir it to see if it is melted enough. The classic way to melt chocolate is in the top part of a double boiler over very hot, but not simmering water. Sometimes it is more efficient to put the finely chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl and place over a small saucepan of water. In any case, be sure that no water comes in contact with the chocolate, or it will firm up or "seize."


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