Dark Chocolate Hidden Veggie Muffins





I used to have this idealistic vision that baking with my kids would be a cute little picture book family type exercise. One would be standing on a stool next to me at the bench, sweetly stirring a bowl of cake batter, the other would be sitting across the bench in his high chair, gurgling gleefully while he tapped a wooden spoon (but not too loud). All the things for the mixture would go into the right bowl at the right time and the cake would go into the oven and we would wait patiently, perhaps playing a fun game of eye spy or something equally quaint while the cake would rise beautifully and turn the sort of perfect golden brown that would make Deliah Smith gasp with delight.Clearly I was fucking drunk, or deluded, or both.

The reality of baking with a two year old and eight month old are a far cry from any that sort of domestic familial bliss. What really happens is that eggs go on the floor, shell goes in the mixture, along with little fingers and probably boogers and fuck knows what else. There are debates over why we can't eat baking powder, then tears when I give up, let her eat it and it's 'gusting!!, like I bloody said it would be. The other child did have his wooden spoon to play with, but he was bashing the living shit out of it and shouting, and doing more bashing and squealing at his sister who was taunting him with her ability to move deftly on two feet as he longs to do.

By the time the muffins actually made it to the oven almost every one of them had been licked, poked or otherwise molested, there was muffin mixture dripping down the cupboard doors, smeared on the bench and coating two small sets of hands and faces, because the little buggers had scored the bloody licking spoons hadn't they? The final twist of the knife, the best bit about the baking process had been whipped out from under me by grabby little hands. The scraper went one way, the spoon the other and I was left with my tongue hanging out and not a bloody thing left to lick. Well, except the children but I'll be buggered if I'm putting them in my mouth, I only know the half of the filth they're covered in.

So, long story short, you want my top tip for a fun baking experience with a kids? Fucking don't! But what you definitely should do is make these muffins, because they are bloody delicious. Dark, rich, gooey, chocolatey goodness, and yes, I'm sorry but I'm going to have to say it, moist. Moist on a filthy pornographic level. They also contain a decent dose of veggies so it's a great way to sneak some extra plant matter into picky eaters, or just be smug in knowing your chocolate treat is making a respectable contribution to your daily intake.

Get this stuff

1 C grated carrot

1 C grated zucchini

3 T cacao or high quality dark cocoa

1/2 C almond meal or buckwheat flour for nut free school lunchbox friendly

I've only tried these with buckwheat flour in place of the almond, but as it behaves like plain flour for baking I'm pretty confident you could sub in any alternative flour like rice, quinoa or even plain wholemeal and you'd get the same great result.

1/3 C coconut flour

1 tsp baking powder

3 eggs

1/4 C coconut oil, melted

3 - 4 Tbl rice malt syrup, maple syrup or granulated stevia (or your choice of sweetener).

The amount will vary depending on how sweet you like your treats, I used 3 Tbl rice malt syrup and 1 Tbl of Natvia granulated stevia. Be aware that if you're using the straight up concentrated stevia powder that you find in whole food stores it will be a lot more concentrated, so make sure you check the packaging and use the amount equivalent to 3-4 Tbl or you will end up with some seriously over-sweet muffs on your hands.

Do this with it

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, forage out your muffin cases then grease and line them.

Throw the carrot, zucchini, eggs, melted coconut oil, rice malt syrup (or your chosen alternative) and cacao into the blender and puree into a thick creamy chocolate soup-like mixture. This is the hidden veggie component. If you have particularly picky eaters this is the bit that's going to fool those fussy bastards because once you've finished blending there'll be no telltale bits of green or orange floating around for them to recoil in horror at.

Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and stir in the almond meal, coconut flour and baking powder to thoroughly combine then leave to sit for about 5 minutes. Coconut flour is a freakishly absorbent beast so this will give time to suck up the liquid and thicken the mixture.

Spoon minute into muffin cases - I used 12 mini and 4 standard sized cases.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until just firm to touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Or don't, bcause they're pretty bloody amazing hot out of the oven, but beware the blistered tongue that is the mark of an impatient baker.  I'm sure there's a wise proverb in there somewhere but what would I know with my mouth burnt to a chocolate covered cinder?