Vegan chocolate chunk muffins are a treat any time of day — even breakfast. They’re low in sugar and made with whole grain flour.
The following basic muffin recipe incorporates my favorite healthy baking technique—using applesauce as a base and fat substitute. It makes the muffins amazingly moist while greatly reducing the need for added fat.
These freeze well: Muffins are best eaten within a day or at most two after they are baked, so if you’re not going to be feeding a crowd of hungry muffin fans, I suggest either freezing half of them, or cutting the recipe in half.
Use good (and compassionate) chocolate: When it comes to chocolate, fair trade and organic are best.
Whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour: These whole grain flours are easy to find in natural foods stores. Make sure to get pastry flour rather than bread flour, as those are two different things! Whole wheat pastry flour or light spelt flour are virtually indistinguishable from all-purpose flour in baking, yet they have more going from them in the fiber and nutrient areas.
In most of my baking recipes I call for natural granulated sugar — and not much of it. See more about the varieties following the recipe box.
- 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour or light spelt flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder (preferably organic and fair trade)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup natural granulated sugar
- 1 cup applesauce
- 2 tablespoons safflower oil
- 1/2 cup nondairy milk, or as needed
- 1 cup vegan chocolate chunks, plus extra for topping (see variation)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and/or raisins, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350º F.
- Combine the first 6 (dry) ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir together.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the applesauce, oil, and nondairy milk to make a smooth batter. If need be add a little more nondairy milk, but let the batter remain stiff.
- Stir in the chocolate chunks and optional walnuts and/or raisins.
- Divide the batter evenly among 12 lined muffin tins. Scatter some extra chocolate chunks on top of the muffins.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are golden and a knife inserted into the center of one tests clean. When cool enough to handle, transfer the muffins to a plate or rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Variation: Of course, you can use chocolate chips in place of chocolate chunks.
About natural granulated sugar
Into the category of natural granulated sugar fall several varieties, the common denominator being that they are not as refined, nor are they bleached, as is white sugar.
Many vegetarians and vegans aren’t comfortable with the fact that 25% of all white sugar is refined using the animal bone-char process. Since this sugar is often sold under generic store-brand labels, it’s often impossible to know what you’re getting.
In addition, the process that turns sugar crystals from their original, lovely tan color to white is not only unnecessary, but is also quite polluting. Please note that supermarket brands of light or dark brown sugar are actually bleached white sugar with a little molasses added back.
Natural sugars are is easy to find in natural foods store, where the variations include organic raw sugar (though sugar crystals are not truly raw), Turbinado sugar, date sugar, and coconut sugar. Any of these yield excellent results in baking.
There are also several brands of natural sugar than are even less refined than the fine, tan crystals just described. These are excellent, but because they have more of their natural molasses left intact, they have a rather assertive flavor and coarser texture. Sucanat® is one such well known brand. The granules have a deep tawny hue and retain more nutrients, particularly minerals, than the amount found in sugar cane.
As an all-purpose sweetener for baking, cooking, and in hot or cold drinks, use any kind of natural granulated sugar described here as a 1-to-1 replacement for white or conventional brown sugar.
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See more easy vegan desserts & sweets.
Top three photos: Vaaseenaa/Bigstock