Choco-Coco-Muffins: Dark, but not wicked
‘Can’t you make some muffins? Why do you never make muffins?’
My 10 year old son asked these questions some time ago with the impatience of a little maharaja. Being an obedient Mama, who loves her only offspring dearly, I set out to work. My first task was to buy some muffin moulds. In my favorite shop they had only small muffin forms with a diameter of 7,5 centimeters or 3 inches. Fortunately they also sold the proper paper lining for their moulds.
Then I read my way through a couple of recipes in cookbooks and cooking websites. (I am always amazed by the wealth of information available on the internet.) Then I went into my kitchen with a concept in mind. Like always I tried to combine a maximum of nutritious ingredients with a minimum of not so healthy stuff…and failed miserably. My first attempt at muffins produced not even a lukewarm response from my men. ‘Really not my favorite, sorry’, said my Italian husband after the first bite. ‘They taste so much like oats’, complained the apple of my eyes. ‘What is wrong with oats? I like oats’, was my resigned response. I ended up eating most of the high fiber muffins myself. They definitely tasted like oats, but not in a bad way…
That’s why I decided to play it safe. With my men that means chocolate, lots of chocolate. What’s more, I got inspired by a book I found with the title ‘Coconut diet’, in which the American author Cherie Calbom reveals everything there is to know about this ‘secret ingredient for effortless weight loss’ (that’s how she refers to the humble coconut). I have written a short summary about coconuts at www.mediterraneancooking.in/nutritional-values/coconut-an-amazing-monkeyface.
I hope you enjoy these muffins as much as my men do. They make a great breakfast or snack and I put them into my son’s tiffin boxes. What a relief, when I can open the fridge door early morning and pull out something homemade and healthy for his tiffin box…
Wishing you happy cooking, always!
Kornelia Santoro with family
Choco-Coco-Muffins: Dark, but not wicked
Ingredients (for 22 small muffins or 12 big muffins):
4 eggs, 2 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla essence, 1 cup cocoa powder, 1 cup cold pressed coconut oil, 100 grams desiccated, grated coconut, 3 teaspoons baking soda, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 2 cups rolled oats, 3 cups whole wheat flour, 1 and ½ cups milk, butter to grease the muffin moulds, paper lining for the moulds, icing sugar for dusting the muffins
How to make Choco-Coco-Muffins:
Start with greasing the muffin moulds. The easiest way is getting your hands dirty by grabbing a piece of soft butter and wiping it all around the moulds. Then place a piece of paper lining into each mould and make sure the lining sticks properly to the sides all around. This takes a bit of patience, but it is the most demanding job when making these muffins, so don’t despair…
Next step is switching on your oven to 190 Degrees Celsius. When making dough with baking powder it is always better to preheat the oven. The baking powder loses its power waiting around to be cooked. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and add the vanilla essence and the sugar. Stir with a hand mixer until the ingredients are combined. Then sift the cocoa powder over the mixture, add the grated coconut and the coconut oil and mix everything well. Finally blend the baking powder and the baking soda with the flour and put this into the mixing bowl. Join the oats and give everything a stir, so the dough is roughly combined. I use baking soda and baking powder because the combination of both has more power to raise this rather heavy muffin mix.
Distribute the dough evenly in your muffin moulds and bake the small moulds for 25 minutes, topping the baking off with 5 minutes of grill. If you use big moulds you have to bake them 5 more minutes in the oven. Just be careful not to overcook them. Overcooked muffins tend to turn dry. Dust the muffins with icing sugar, once they have cooled down.
Fats: The good, the bad and the really ugly
When it comes to fat and the human health, it is difficult to figure out what is really happening, not to mention forming an educated opinion. Until recently, scientists promoted polyunsaturated oils to keep cholesterol levels under control. Now it seems that the experts might have been wrong by condemning saturated fats. I, a humble lay person, cannot help but feel confused. Maybe all this scientific research cannot be taken too seriously. After all, there is always somebody paying the bills and this might influence the outcome of any research.
For me it is time to apply some common sense to the subject: I strongly believe the more natural the fat, the better. That means in short: I trust butter and cold pressed oils. Generally I use only butter and olive oil in my kitchen. However, now a book has changed my mind: In future I will include cold pressed coconut oil as well.
In the book “Coconut diet” (ISBN-13: 978-0-00-727284-6, available from HarperCollins Publishers India) the author Cherie Calbom provides some interesting information about coconut oil. According to her, coconut oil got a bad reputation due to negative media reports during the latter half of the previous century. Saturated fats were widely held responsible for the increase of heart disease in the USA, condemning butter as well as coconut oil. Polyunsaturated oils were hailed as healthy.
Nowadays it seems exactly the opposite may be true . I believe refined vegetable oils – even if they are polyunsaturated – are bad for our bodies. Vegetable oils produce highly damaging trans fatty acids when refined or heated. These trans fatty acids, according to latest research, are the really ugly when it comes to our health. The clog our blood vessels and they inflate the fat cells on our hips in no time at all, not to mention they become quickly rancid, flooding our body with poison. Most packaged food contains oil of questionable quality.
On the other hand, saturated fats like butter and coconut oil are absolutely vital for the human body (the following points are taken from the “Coconut diet”):
- About half of cell membranes are made from saturated fatty acids.
- Our bones need saturated fatty acids to incorporate calcium.
- Saturated fatty acids protect the liver and enhance the immune system.
- Tissues retain omega-3 fatty acids better when you eat saturated fat at the same time. (Check www.mediterraneancooking.in/nutritional-values/sea-food-for-the-best-omega-3).
- The heart muscle is embedded in tissue made from saturated fat.
- Short and medium-chain saturated fatty acids combat harmful microorganisms.