Buy a mint plant, get a free surprise caterpillar

This month’s We Should Cocoa was hosted by Chele over at Chocolate Teapot, and she chose the theme “something green“, which I think is pretty self-explanatory.  The very first thing that popped into my head when I first read the theme was a delicious recipe for mint chocolate chip muffins from Mad About Muffins, my go-to book for muffin recipes.  A few days later, I realised that the only copy of the recipe that I have is in the actual book in my shipment which was being rifled through waiting for clearance by NZ Customs.  Minor issue there.  I also figured that mint and chocolate was probably going to be a fairly popular combination for the challenge, so perhaps I should do something else…

I mentioned this to Kat over a Skype chat (thank goodness for Skype), and it turns out that she happened to have a copy of the recipe, from when she’d stayed with me over the summer of 2010 – the summer which I think really cemented our friendship, and during which we spent a large amount of time baking together (gin and wine may have featured pretty heavily, too, which are always great for cementing friendships).  So I knew that I just had to make the muffins, in honour of that, and all the fun we had in St Andrews, because I baked these up several times for various parties, and they always went down really well.  And also because the only bakeware that I have with me are my muffin moulds.  Well, that’s not strictly true – all my stuff arrived yesterday (hurrah!!!), but it’s still being unpacked, so it’s not exactly readily accessible to bake with yet.  It makes me sad that I won’t be able to share this batch with Kat though.

At the Farmers’ Market last weekend I bought a few basic herb plants (basil, parsley, thyme and mint), so I decided to add some of the fresh mint to the muffins, just because I could.  After noticing a few rather sizeable chunks missing from several of the leaves that had most definitely been intact last Saturday, I discovered that the mint plant had come with a free caterpillar.  Said caterpillar didn’t touch any of the other herbs, only the mint, so I don’t think it’ll be suffering from halitosis any time soon (total anthropomorphism, I know, shhhh!).  I realise that this isn’t exactly a disaster, but I’m bad enough at keeping plants in good condition (I am very much not green-fingered) in the first place, without throwing something that eats them into the mix.  So between the caterpillar and the leaves I used for this recipe, the plant is looking a little sorry for itself now…  Hopefully it’ll grow back pretty quickly.  I had hoped that the mint leaves would make darker flecks of green through the light green of the muffin, but that didn’t happen – perhaps if I’d used far more it would have been more visible.  They still tasted delicious though – wonderfully moist, with a good minty flavour, balanced out by the chocolate.  I should add that the muffins also came out slightly darker on top than usual because I’m still getting used to having an oven that actually works properly.

Mint chocolate chip muffins

Makes 14 muffins
Recipe adapted from Mad About Muffins

The green food colouring is obviously optional, but it adds a fun touch.  This time I used a smidgeon of “leaf green” gel colouring, but I’ve used standard green liquid colouring in the past, and it works perfectly, too, so just use what you have.  The original recipe doesn’t use any crème de menthe, but it helps with the colour and the flavour – if you don’t want to use any, just use a total of 190ml of milk.  These muffins are delicious warm, but I do also love them cold with a glass of milk for breakfast.  As with most muffins, these won’t keep for very long, but can be stored overnight in an air-tight container.

Ingredients

340g all-purpose flour
130g caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Handful of fresh mint leaves
100g unsalted butter
2 eggs
150ml milk
40ml crème de menthe
¾ tsp natural peppermint extract
½ tsp liquid green food colouring (or a smidgeon of gel colouring)
200g dark chocolate chips

Directions

1.  Line a muffin tray with 14 liners or set out silicone moulds on a baking sheet.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C.

2.  Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and mix together.  Rinse the mint leaves, pat them dry, chop them (somewhere between finely chopped and roughly chopped is good) and stir into the dry ingredients.

3.  Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave or in a small saucepan.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, lightly beat the two eggs with a fork.  Add the milk, crème de menthe, peppermint extract and green food colouring and lightly beat together (if using gel colouring, make sure that it doesn’t fall into a little lump at the bottom of the bowl).

4.  Add the wet ingredients and the melted butter to the dry ingredients and stir with a large metal spoon until just combined (the batter should be a bit lumpy with some flour still visible).

5.  Gently fold about 150g of the chocolate chips into the batter.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin liners, and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips.

6.  Bake for 18-22 mins until well risen and the tops spring back when gently pressed down (don’t press down on a chocolate chip though – they get really hot!).  Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little before eating.

Enjoy!

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5 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

5 responses to “Buy a mint plant, get a free surprise caterpillar

  1. These look absolutely delicious (if a little radioactive – in a good way)! I also really like your new All Blacks mug, is that to go with the picnic rug?

    • Mel

      Thanks! It’s not technically an All Blacks mug (because they didn’t have any nice ones), but it does look like one, so it totally matches my awesome picnic rug, although probably not so practical to use a breakable mug on a picnic…

  2. Katie (Apple & Spice)

    These look fabulous and I love the pale minty green colour. Lovely rise and top to your muffins. Mine tend to come out a bit flat, but these look great. I’ll have to give them a go :)

    • Mel

      Thanks! I’ve made plenty of muffins where the tops come out a little flat, and it’s always a little disappointing. I’ve never had that issue with this recipe though and I’ve baked it plenty of times. Actually, I’ve never had that issue with any of the recipes that I’ve tried from the Mad About Muffins book, which is great! Let me know how they turn out for you if you try them!

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