Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Warm Chocolate Muffins with Chocolate Sauce and Fresh Strawberries

As life gets busier and work get more demanding day by day, its easy to resort to "semi-homemade" and "30-minute" meals for preparing our dinners. A full-time engineer myself, I know how difficult it can get at times when you have to sacrifice a gym session just because you still have to cook, and its inviting to gather the semi-cooked ingredients and spend less time cooking, at the same time still winning loads of compliments for your culinary skills(yeah, who knows I used something right off the shelf!:)) But as a cook, I can say that most of the joy and satisfaction that I derive from cooking is in the actual process, making something from scratch, trying out variations and methods, the smells and flavors that fill up my kitchen, getting involved as the delicacy takes shape, form, color and texture in the oven or on the stove, and finally, taking that extra step to make my meal more attractive and appealing! The joy of these small wonders can't compare to the packaged food!

I'm all for semi-homemade cooking, and using ingredients to ease your process is encouraged, but at least don't deprive yourself of the enjoyment while you cook! I needed some tonic for my body after this, and I went home and baked these Simple and Easy Chocolate Muffins, layered with homemade sauce, and served with fresh strawberries. I would use this as a basic muffin recipe, and you can play around with ingredients and flavors to make muffin variations. It works perfect as breakfast served with your morning coffee or as a quick evening dessert.

Note: This recipe makes 6-8 muffins

1 1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp skimmed milk
1 egg
2 tbsp sunflower oil

For the Chocolate Sauce
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 tspn vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 350 deg F and grease a muffin pan with non-stick spray. Sieve the cocoa into a large bowl, then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir to combine, then make a well in the centre.

Beat the milk, egg and oil together in a jug, pour into the well, then stir quickly to make a batter. Spoon into the muffin tin, then bake for 15 mins or until risen and firm to the touch.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and whipping cream. Remove after 30 sec, the stir, then repeat the process (keep stirring) until smooth. Add in the vanilla, and let the sauce cool a little.

Turn out the muffins while they are warm (not hot!) and pour the custard over them. Slice some fresh strawberries on the side, and enjoy a delicious dessert any day of the week!

Tip: You can make the chocolate sauce and store it in a fridge. Just melt it anytime you want to use it. Also feel free to indulge by pouring some vanilla ice cream on the top to make it one luscious dessert!

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