Tag Archives: Chocolate

Baking with Vegetables: Pumpkin Muffins and Sweet Potato Brownies

21 Nov

My original thought for making a vegetable-added brownie was to make a beet brownie.  I eventually will, but I had a sweet potato to use.
Sweet potatoes in particular add sweetness to the brownies such that less sugar is necessary.  I also had to make pumpkin muffins because I had yet to make them this fall, though they are one of the things I most look forward to making in the fall and winter.  The pumpkin muffins are inspired by the Yammy Muffins recipe from the Sustainable Food Center’s The Happy Kitchen cookbook, which I’m currently doing some recipe testing for.  I changed up that recipe quite a bit, reducing the amount of sugar, increasing the pumpkin, eliminating the oil, and using pumpkin in place of sweet potato.  Overall, using vegetables in baking adds moisture so that less oil and eggs are necessary, and in the case of beets and sweet potatoes, adds sweetness so that you don’t need to add so much sugar.  Of course, there’s also the added nutrition factor.

Pumpkin Muffins


1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinammon

1/2 cup barley malt syrup

1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk will do)

1 15-oz. can pumpkin

2 T ground flax mixed with 6 T water, or 2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 400.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with papers, or dab some vegetable oil or butter in the cups to keep the muffins from sticking.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  In another smaller bowl combine the pumpkin, flax mixture or eggs, vanilla, barley malt, and almond milk.  Then, mix the dry and wet ingredients together, until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Evenly distribute muffin batter in the muffin pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

Sweet Potato Brownies


4 T (1/2 stick) butter or non-hydrogenated margarine (I think coconut oil would be good here too, though I haven’t tried it yet.)

1  4-ounce bar of 100% cacao chocolate (I used Ghiradelli brand)

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

About 1 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1 large sweet potato)

1 T ground flax mixed with 3 T water, or 1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract


Peel the sweet potato, cut into chunks, and boil until tender.  (Another alternative is to cut a few slits in the potato and microwave until it’s cooked, usually about 10 minutes.)  Mash in a medium bowl.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Melt the butter with the chocolate bar in a medium saucepan or skillet over medium low heat until completely melted.  Stir during the process to facilitate the combining of the butter and chocolate.

Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt) together in a small bowl.  Mix the flax mixture or egg with the sweet potato, vanilla, and sugar.  Add the chocolate mixture, then add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Place in a square 8×8 pan, or a loaf pan for thicker brownies (that’s what I did).  Bake for about 25 minutes.  The brownies will be very fudgy, not cakey.


Chocolate Double Buckwheat Muffins

13 Oct

I love buckwheat.  It may be an acquired taste for some, but it didn’t take me long to become a devotee.  Most buckwheat muffins or other baked goods recipes I’ve seen use a combination of wheat and buckwheat flour, though this muffin I made a few days ago contains not only buckwheat flour, but also cooked buckwheat.  I’ve seen recipes for muffins with cooked quinoa, so I thought buckwheat couldn’t be far behind, right?  These muffins make a very respectable breakfast food–very little sugar and completely whole grain, with cooked buckwheat, buckwheat flour, and whole wheat pastry flour.  I thought chocolate would make a nice flavor pairing with the buckwheat, so I added some good quality cocoa powder in addition to some grain-sweetened chocolate chips.  They turned out yummy!


1 cup toasted buckwheat (aka “kasha”)

2 cups water

Pinch salt

1 cup almond milk (I used almond milk because I had it on hand, but any nut milk, dairy milk, rice milk, etc. will do)

2 tsp ground flax

1/4 cup safflower oil (or other neutral-tasting oil)

1/2 cup barley malt syrup (honey or brown rice syrup would also work)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt

1/2 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips

1/2 cup dried cranberries


Bring the 2 cups of water and salt to a boil and add the buckwheat.  Turn down to medium low, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the grain is tender.  Set aside.  (This step can be done ahead.  You will have extra buckwheat you won’t need for the muffins–I ate mine as a breakfast cereal with dried fruit, almond milk, walnuts, and brown sugar.)

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and place muffin papers in a 12-cup muffin pan.  Alternatively, grease the muffin pan if you don’t have papers.  Mix the almond milk with the flax and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients in a medium or large bowl.  Then, mix the oil, barley malt, and vanilla with the almond milk/flax mixtures.  Mix the dry and wet mixtures together, adding the cooked buckwheat.  Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips and dried cranberries until evenly distributed through the batter.  The batter will be thick.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick or fork comes out clean when you test a muffin.

Pumpkin Pie with Hazelnuts and Chocolate

6 Dec

This recipe combines Martha Stewart’s pie crust recipe, pumpkin pie filling from a Heidi Swanson recipe on http://www.101cookbooks.com, and my own addition of a hazelnut chunk and chocolate layer on the bottom of the pie.  This was an excellent way to round out our Thanksgiving meal.  For the pie crust, I employed the help of my food processor to mix the dough–it worked very nicely, but you can make the dough with a pastry blender or even a fork. Though this is the crust I used, feel free to buy a pre-made crust or use any recipe you like.  Martha’s recipe has always given me excellent results.

Martha’s Pie Crust

Makes enough dough for two crusts, or a top and bottom crust for one pie.


2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour, or unbleached white flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces (make sure it’s very cold)

1/4 cup-1/2 cup ice water


Put flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor, and pulse a few times to combine.  Add the butter and run the processor until the dough looks grainy–the butter and flour are completely combined.  As you pulse, add the ice water little by little.  The dough should stick together now and not be grainy–the water should be enough to bind everything together.  Form the dough into two equally-sized balls with your hands.  Store one for later use.  Refrigerate the dough you will use for the pumpkin pie until you are ready to put together the pie.  What you don’t want is for the dough to get warm…the butter should not melt.  Bad!

Pumpkin Pie with Hazelnuts and Chocolate

1 pie crust

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted (instructions below on how to toast)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp allspice

1 tsp ground ginger

(or, instead of each spice individually, use 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (you can find arrowroot in the bulk foods section of most stores, or you can substitute cornstarch)

1 can pumpkin puree (do NOT use pumpkin pie mix….you want pure, plain pumpkin puree)

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 cup coconut milk (you can buy a half-size can of coconut milk that equals about 1 cup; otherwise, buy the big can and freeze the other half of it if you don’t have a use for it right away)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the hazelnuts in a small baking dish, and toast for about 10 minutes.

Set aside the hazelnuts.  Prepare the pie filling.  Mix the brown sugar, spices, salt, and arrowroot in a large mixing bowl. Once combined, add pumpkin puree and vanilla.  Then, add eggs and coconut milk.

It is easiest to use an electric mixer, but a whisk will also work.

Next, roll out the dough on a floured work surface.

Next, place the crust in a pie pan.  Trim the edges.  I used the excess to make a few tiny pies with leftover pie filling.

Next, add the hazelnuts and chocolate chips to the bottom of the crust.  Lightly chop the hazelnuts first if you like. 

Next, pour the pie filling over the crust.  I had a bit left over, which I used to make tiny pies in small ramekins (see pictures that follow).

Bake the pie for about 40 minutes, then check.  Stick a knife in the center, and if it comes out clean, the pie is done.  The pie may take up to 50 minutes, but my oven seems to cook things faster.  My small pies had to come out after about 30 minutes.

I made one small pie with just the filling, and the other with crust on top and bottom.  Yum!  Though I did not serve the pie with whipped cream, that would make an excellent addition.  Not Cool Whip for god’s sake…real whipped cream!  This pie is excellent with a cup of strong coffee.