C’est un mariage parfait entre le chocolat, les amandes, et les noisettes.
Chocolate and hazelnuts work really well together, that’s a given. Add almonds into the mix, and you get a whole new level of chocolate-nut heaven. It’s divine, and there’s no better way to enjoy this delicious combination than in a rich, chunky, café-style muffin. Try only eating one, I dare you.
Muffins are one thing that I’ve missed since I started following a gluten-free diet. More specifically, I miss the convenience of being able to pick up a muffin when you’re getting your morning coffee. A lot of cafés offer the standard flourless chocolate or flourless orange cake (which are nice of course) but sometimes I crave a little variety.
White chocolate and raspberry, lemon poppyseed, blueberry, cinnamon…the options are endless when it comes to muffins. Today, though, I was craving chocolate. I wanted something that was rich, but not too sweet. Using both cocoa and chocolate chips gives these muffins more depth of flavour, while the addition of the nuts counteracts the bitterness that cocoa sometimes brings to a recipe.
You’ve probably noticed by now that I use nuts in a lot of my recipes, and you may be wondering why. Apart from the flavour they bring, nuts actually help baked goods to retain their moisture. As time passes, the nuts release oil into the cake, which adds moisture to the mix and keeps the cake from drying out too quickly. I find this to be a real advantage in gluten-free baking, as gluten-free flours can often be quite dry (which is why our cakes don’t last as long as we might like).
In the recipe below, I’ve specified the need for the dry ingredients to be sifted. Sifting flours is a bit of a pain, I know, but I would recommend making the extra effort in this case. Because gluten-free flour mixes use a variety of grains, they’re often not as fine as regular wheat flour. Because you’re using almond meal in this recipe (as well as the chunky additions of chocolate chips and hazelnuts), it’s already going to be a little heavier than a regular batter. Sifting the flour, cocoa, sugar and leavening agents will give the muffins a lighter crumb.
I used lactose-free milk in this recipe (it’s just what I always have in the fridge), but you could easily make these muffins entirely dairy-free by using a non-dairy milk. I imagine almond milk would work nicely, but I haven’t tried it, so if you do, be sure to let me know how it works!
One more thing…I used Dutch-processed cocoa in this recipe. Dutch-processed cocoa reacts differently with leavening agents to natural unprocessed cocoa. Although I’ve used both baking powder and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) in this recipe, I can’t guarantee that you would have the same results if you were to use natural cocoa. You should be able to tell what kind of cocoa you’re using from the box, but if, like me, you’ve already thrown away the box and transferred your cocoa to a decorative tin, you can probably tell based on the colour. Dutch-processed cocoa is a very chocolatey dark brown colour, whereas natural cocoa is much lighter, closer in colour to cinnamon. For this recipe, stick to the Dutch-processed cocoa.
Double Chocolate Almond Hazelnut Muffins
makes 12 muffins
1.25 cups gluten free plain flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grapeseed oil (or other light vegetable oil)
3/4 cup lactose-free milk (or non-dairy milk)
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts
- Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- Sift flour, cocoa, sugar, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder together into a mixing bowl. Add almond meal and whisk well to combine.
- Add eggs, milk and oil to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly, scraping down the sides of bowl to ensure all the flour mix has been well incorporated. Add chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts, and stir gently to combine.
- Spoon batter into cupcake liners, and bake for 30 minutes. [Note: aside from the standard skewer test, a good way to tell if muffins/cupcakes are ready is to lift one out of the tray, and tap the bottom of the cupcake liner. If it sounds hollow, its cooked.]
- Allow muffins to cool in their tins for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Keeping time: 3-4 days.