While reading and looking at a book about “Space” with the children, I had the idea of baking some chocolate muffins, decorate them with chocolate robots and then let the kids have some fun with their dessert – this is how the idea for the “Chocolate Muffins in Space” came about. The muffins were delicious, I used my tried and true recipe. The kids love using all kinds of molds for preparing chocolate decorations, by now, they have turned into real “pros” when it comes to melting the chocolate and filling the molds. It was a fun afternoon filled with baking and books and chocolate and photo taking.
Chocolate Muffins in Space
(recipe for about one dozen)
Ingredients for the Chocolate Muffin Batter
- 3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder, try to find a really good quality one (I use Dutch cacao, such as Van Houten or Bensdorp)
- 3/4 cup AP flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup super fine white sugar
- 3 eggs (L), organic or free range
- 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
Ingredients for the Topping and Decoration
- about 5 ounces white chocolate, chopped (I used white “Lindt Excellence with Vanilla”)
- about 3.5 ounces dark chocolate, melted, you could add about one tbsp shortening when melting the chocolate
- one regular muffin pan
- 12 or more good quality greaseproof muffin liners
- ice cream scoop (or spoons) for filling the muffin liners
- chocolate mold for the chocolate decorations
Preparation of the Muffins
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners. I like to use sturdy muffin liners, the baked muffins will be easier to decorate once they have cooled.
3. In a medium bowl, sift together the cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
4. With your electric mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
5. To the butter mixture, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla extract.
6. With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream - beginning and ending with the flour.
7. Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, fill the muffin liners - the muffin liners should not be completely full (about ¾) as the batter will rise during baking.
8. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, the tops should spring back when touched.
9. Cool in the muffin pan on a rack for about 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorating the Muffins
1. Make sure that the molds are completely dry before using.
2. Melt the white chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave, making sure that the chocolate does not get too hot.
3. Using a spoon, fill the molds with the chocolate, being careful not to spill the chocolate over the edges or use the back of a kitchen knife to scrape off the spilled chocolate while it is still warm.
4. Tap the mold lightly on the work surface in order to eliminate air bubbles.
5. Place the mold in the fridge for about 20 minutes or until the chocolate hardens.
6. Remove the chocolates from the mold by applying light pressure to each single cavity of the mold. Set aside for a moment to prepare the dark chocolate topping.
7. Place the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips and shortening in a medium heat-proof bowl. In a separate large heat-proof bowl, put very hot water. Carefully place the bowl with the chocolate into the bowl with the water - the water should come halfway up the side of the chocolate bowl.
11. Stir the chocolate and shortening with a rubber scraper until both are melted and the resulting mixture is smooth. Remove the chocolate bowl from inside the water bowl.
12. Taking one muffin at a time, dip into chocolate mixture, gently tap on the counter to “level” the chocolate and just before the chocolate sets, decorate the tops of the muffins with one white chocolate “robot" each.
- Muffin pans from „Le Patisse“ (www.patisse.nl)
- Muffin liners from “Staedter” (www.staedter.de)
- Chocolate from “Lindt” (www.lindt.com)
- Chocolate mold from “Silikomart”, Italy , called “Robochoc” (www.silikomart.com)
- Childrens´ pop-up book: “Solar System: A Journey to the Planets and Beyond” (3-D Explorer) Ian Graham (Author) (www.amazon.com), title of the German edition “Weltall” (www.dorlingkindersley.de)