Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins

 I love a good deal.

On Monday, my friend, Liz*, and I went to the local close-out store in search of small plastic bins to organize my cookie add-ins. (Yes, I have so many cookie add-ins that I need special equipment to organize them.) I grabbed four bins and headed for the checkout when I saw it: a huge Ghirardelli chocolate chip display. Three pounds for $3.99! Less than 1/3 the normal price! Needless to say, I am now the proud owner of 15 pounds of chocolate chips. Best. Deal. Ever.

*Yes, I have a friend named Liz who is awesome enough to come organize my cabinets. We like to get together to make pie, and occasionally refer to ourselves as “Liz Squared” because we’re nerds.

As you may have guessed, I have gone on a bit of a chocolate chip jag. I’ve experimented with my chocolate chip cookie recipe, going so far as to have another taste-off during my Wednesday night cookie commitment. My original plan had been to post whichever recipe won, but they tied! This has literally never happened. I am a bit obsessive about what I choose to post on here, so a tie meant I was at a loss. I got very close to just flipping a coin, but then I came to my senses, and made breakfast instead.

And that is the very long story about how these Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins got posted. ๐Ÿ˜ 

  As I’ve mentioned previously, working with whole wheat flour is very different from working with all-purpose. Whole wheat is just that–whole. It hasn’t been stripped of its bran and germ like all-purpose flour, so it has a much greater nutritional profile than other wheat flours. But all this whole grain goodness weighs the flour down and, if mixed into baked goods without making adjustments, can lead to dense, dry results. No, thank you! Here, we mitigate that with cornstarch, which supplies lightness like it does in cake flour. We also add tons of moisture in the forms of dark brown sugar, buttermilk, a bit of oil, and an egg. The final precaution against dense muffins is in the mixing: whisk the wet and dry ingredients separately, and then fold them together just until they become a thick batter, about 20-25 strokes. This helps keep the gluten in the whole wheat flour from becoming overdeveloped, and guarantees that the muffins have moist, tender insides.

We liven up the grainy flavor of whole wheat with a touch of cinnamon. It’s not a major flavor here–it just gives the muffins a little depth. There’s also a touch of vanilla, for balance.

And then there’s the main event: the chocolate chips! These muffins may have all the goodness of whole grain, but let’s be real. These are mostly just an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast. There are one and a half cups of chocolate chips in these muffins, which means they are positively bursting with melty chocolate! Breakfast doesn’t get much better than that! 

These Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins rise high thanks to a 400F blast of heat at the start of the baking time. This activates the leaveners and makes these muffins dome beautifully. After five minutes, the heat is reduced to 350F for 13-15 minutes, which allows the insides to cook through while the edges of the muffin tops get just a little bit crunchy. Biting through the crunchy exterior into the soft, chocolatey interior is…well, it’s divine.

Make these muffins for a treat this weekend, or for grab-and-go breakfasts and snacks throughout the week. With a soft and fluffy texture, plenty of whole grain, and–hello!–chocolate, what’s not to love?!๐Ÿ˜Š 

 Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins
makes 12 standard muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil*
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, plus more for topping

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 12-cup standard muffin tin, or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, and egg. Add dry ingredients to wet, and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to combine into a thick batter. Do not overmix. Fold in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Dot the tops with additional chocolate chips, if desired.

Tap full pan on the counter five times. Bake for five minutes at 400F. Do not open the oven door. Reduce baking temperature to 350F, and bake an additional 13-15 minutes, until muffins spring back when pressed with a clean finger.

Let muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Notes:

1. Light brown sugar may be substituted.
2. I use canola oil, but vegetable or melted coconut oils would work here.

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