Chocolate muffins

Spicy treat: A moist, sweet and spicy muffin that could easily serve as dessert. (Cathy Pollak/TMS Photo)

I have been on a late-night baking kick. It seems like the perfect

time to get into the kitchen and make some magic. Oh, who am I kidding? I have no other time to do it. But I still like it.

And these muffins: I love them, I mean really love them. I wanted spicy and chocolate, not to mention I was slightly motivated by the very ripe bananas sitting on my counter.

Have you had chili and chocolate? You're missing out if you haven't. I used chili powder and cayenne to create the heat and flavor I wanted. The spicy taste lingers and heats up. It's perfect. You could add a cream cheese frosting if you wanted to be fancy, but the muffins don't really need it. They're moist and sweet. They could easily be dessert.

Spicy double chocolate banana muffins

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Makes: 23 muffins

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

4 very ripe bananas

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Combine flour, cocoa, chili powder, cayenne, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Sift together to combine. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add sugar, eggs, bananas and buttermilk. Blend until thoroughly combined. (You can also mix the batter with electric beaters or by hand with a wooden spoon.) Add flour mixture alternating with buttermilk and ending with flour. Mix just until combined. (Don't overmix.) Fold in chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

3. Pour 1/4 cup batter into each muffin liner; bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of one muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan, 5 minutes; transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 210 calories, 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 17 mg cholesterol, 43 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 93 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.

Cathy Pollak runs her own vineyard and winery in Oregon's Willamette Valley and writes about food and wine at noblepig.com. One for the Table is Amy Ephron's online magazine (oneforthetable.com).

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