Wednesday 6 March 2013


There are good days and bad days. And then there are really good days. Such days are when you open the front door and a delivery man hands you a huge hamper full of chocolates.

I was sent a delightful chocolate hamper to sample (yes, for real!). It was such a pleasure to receive: it came packed in a box which was hurriedly ripped open (not by me). The lovely basket was nestled inside, so pretty with a big green bow. I didn't want to open it without taking photos. It was so beautifully laid out. When it came to the big reveal, more pleasure was felt. 

The chocolates were carefully chosen, high quality chocolates. The assortment was good, aimed at satisfying everyone's taste. I have traditional tastes and although I like trying new flavours, I don't like anything too new fangled. Thankfully, there was none of that. There were two selection boxes, a bar of dark orange chocolate (love!) Italian chocolate orange sticks, white chocolate praline truffles (love again!) a golden box of caramel chocolate, a box of chocolate dinner mints, an amusing little bag of chocolate stones (nice touch, very pretty so won't eat it...yet) and a jute bag filled with chocolate cookies. The hamper is called 'chocolate heaven' and rightfully so. All in all a package of delight that will lift you up straight past cloud nine the moment you receive it.

These goodies are by Hampergifts. They have a very impressive array of fine food hampers that caters to all preferences: food, wine, cheese, gifts, bath and beauty hampers and more. They take the fuss out of gift giving and appreciation is guaranteed. 

I managed to grab a few bits of chocolate to make bakery style chocolate chip muffins. This muffin recipe from the Crunchy Creamy Sweet blog has solved the muffin mystery for me. It is simple and fuss free to make. It is also what it says it is: bakery style. The secret is in baking the muffins at a higher temperature for five minutes then baking further at a slightly lower temperature. This gives it height and cracked crisp tops. It is versatile, too as you can change the bits from chocolate to whatever else you want. I halved their recipe as it made quite a lot (24). These muffins have opened my eyes and have finally taught me the difference between cupcakes and muffins. With my posh choc bits, they're perfect.

I adapted this recipe from the Crunchy Creamy Sweet blog. I increased the amounts of the ingredients I like: butter and vanilla.

This recipe makes 8-10 large muffins.


1/2 c. butter
3/4 plus 2 tbsps. sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. plain flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh orange zest (optional; i didn't add this)
3/4 c. Greek style yoghurt (I used non-fat)
3/4 c. chocolate chunks (any kind or a mixture if you prefer)


Preheat the oven to 400° F/200° C.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula from time to time. 

Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt with a whisk.

With the mixer running, add the dry ingredients a half cupful at a time, alternating with the yoghurt. The batter will be thick.

You can divide the dough into portions if you want to make different flavours. Save a few chocolate chunks for the top and fold the rest into the batter. 

Scoop the batter into paper cases, filling to the top. I used a heaped ice cream scoopful for each tulip paper case, one level scoop for a regular muffin case.  Top with the reserved chocolate pieces.

Bake for 5 minutes at the pre-set temperature, then lower the oven temperature to 375° F/ 190° C. Bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes until the tops are crisp and brown and a cake tester comes out clean. 

Cool for 2 minutes in the pan then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Baked muffins can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to a month. Defrost before heating in the microwave for 20-25 seconds to melt the chocolate.

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