Wednesday, June 30, 2010

True love finds perfect muffin tops

Our first date was nothing spectacular, and yet I will always treasure the smile it brings back to my face. Far too young to be thinking about marriage, I couldn't help but wonder at how amazing it might be after just a simple few hours spent at Starbucks, with a tall, dark and handsome boy, sipping my $5 coffee. At that time, spending $5 on fancy coffee seemed a little extravagant, and so I felt amazingly special to share this pleasure with a good friend, who, much sooner than later, became my husband.

Ten years later, we are still very much in love, enjoying the small moments in life that create the bigger picture. We've been through ups and downs, stressful times and easy times. We have two beautiful daughters, that belong to us (for now, anyway!), a perfect doggy (hey, I get to be biased, too!) and a house on which we've unleashed our idea of decorating on.

All this started with $5 coffee, two Cafe Valencias, which not only opened my eyes to true and unconditional love, but also to the trio of coffee, orange and chocolate. It's one of those combinations that is just right.

And since all things can be wrapped up in either a muffin, when sweet, or a burger, if savoury, I felt inspired to turn out these:

Cafe Valencia Muffins
Makes 12

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup 2% or higher milk
2 tsp instant coffee
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup orange juice (about 1 orange)
1 tsp real vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup good quality dark chocolate chips

sugar and melted chocolate

Cream butter and sugar well, until fluffy and pale.
Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Stir instant coffee into milk, then add to sugar and butter mixture.
Add orange zest and juice, and vanilla. It will look as though the batter is curdling, don't panic! Everything will come together with the addition of the flour.
In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips.
Fold into creamed mixture gently, taking care not to over mix.
Line muffin pan with muffin papers, fill each about 3/4 full to make 12 muffins.
Sprinkle about 1/4 tsp of granulated sugar on each.
Bake at 400 F, about 16 - 20 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Cool, then drizzle muffin tops with melted chocolate.

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