Cook on a Whim: Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Muffins

Muffins are the friendliest of baked goods, don’t you think? There is something about a muffin in the morning, as an after-school snack or snuck into a lunchbox that just makes everything feel alright.

I’ve always felt like I earn extra momma points every time I make muffins. These dark chocolate olive oil muffins are no exception. The olive oil adds a hint of sophistication, but they are still the friendly, comforting, delicious little morsels we all know and love, sure to put a smile on anyone’s face no matter what.

These muffins are moist, tender, full of chocolate flavor and topped with streusel. Not just any streusel though — oh, no — we’re topping these with a chocolate streusel.

I know back-to-school looks a lot different for many of us this year, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still carry on the traditions that can make this time of year so special. Maybe our kids are home, but especially for the little ones these traditions are important. They can still get involved and help pack lunches and make snacks. And muffins make a great snack! Knowing they have tasty treats waiting might just be a good motivator to get them through their assignments.

As I wrote above, there is something special about muffins for me and for my family. I can’t tell you exactly what it is. Maybe because I taught myself to make them when my kids were very young and they usually sat on the counter and helped me — stealing little pinches of brown sugar and stray chocolate chips with their cute little fingers.

Who knows? But muffins are always a welcome sight in the kitchen. I love having a great big glass cookie jar full of them. I don’t long for the day my kids head off to college, but I do look forward to the chance to be able to send them homemade goodies, especially their favorite muffins. If I can’t hug them and see them every day, at least I can show my love like I always have: by feeding them (I’m not crying, I’m not crying …).

I know I’ve told you all this before, but muffins were not a part of my childhood. While my dad was an amazing home cook, he wasn’t a big baker. He made a few things and made them incredibly well: bread, cherry or apple crisps or Brown Bettys — in his favorite cast iron Dutch oven — and cheesecakes galore at Christmastime.

I didn’t really start making or eating muffins until my son was old enough to start eating them, and then they quickly became a very regular part of our lives. I make banana muffins most frequently. My daughter’s favorite, they are the perfect way to use up overripe bananas, which we always, always, seem to have.

But why olive oil? Well, I’m always looking to shake things up in the kitchen and I love trying new recipes and ingredients. So these dark chocolate olive oil muffins were born one day when I had some chocolate chunks to use up and I wanted to try something different. As much as I love butter (and you know I do), oil makes for very moist muffins and cakes. And it’s always ready to go — no softening or melting.

If you’ve never tried olive oil in your baking, you’re in for a real treat. Besides adding a depth of flavor and some healthy fat to a variety of baked goods, it just pairs so well with chocolate. Although I do love the gourmet-ness the olive oil brings, feel free to use any neutral oil you have on hand (or, of course, melted butter).

A few muffin tips …

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT overmix your batter. Lumps are good. Even itty-bitty bits of flour still showing is fine. Muffin batter should be lumpy and ugly. Your self-restraint will be rewarded when you bite into a tender, fluffy muffin. If you overmix, you will have a tough, dense, dry, heavy muffin.

There are all kinds of tips and tricks on how to get the tallest, most domed muffin tops. I’m not a fan of starting at a higher temp and then lowering. I like to just toss them in the oven and walk away. My trick? Let your batter sit for 20 minutes once you scoop it into the pans. This allows the baking soda to start doing its magic.

Don’t overbake your muffins. I err on the side of underdone, as they will have a little bit of carry-over cooking. Around the 15-minute mark, press the tops lightly with your finger. If they spring back, they are done. If they leave an indentation, give them another minute or so. You can also check with a toothpick; just insert and, if you see a few moist crumbs, they are done. If you see wet batter, give them a little more time.


Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Muffins with Chocolate Streusel

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 12 muffins



For the streusel:

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

4 tablespoons butter

For the muffins:

2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa (if you have it, use 1/4 cup black cocoa and 1/4 cup regular cocoa)

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (you want that FLAVOR!)

1 cup chocolate chunks



Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin with liners.

In a small bowl, combine all streusel ingredients. Using a fork or your fingers, mash or pinch together until you have a crumbly mixture that sticks together when you pinch it.

Now for the muffins. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a separate medium bowl, mix together eggs, brown sugar, milk, vanilla, vinegar and olive oil until well combined. I prefer a whisk for this.

Next, pour wet muffin ingredients into dry muffin ingredients and fold a few times with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon (not a whisk!). Add chocolate chunks and continue folding gently, making sure to get the bottom of the bowl, until you have a mostly mixed but very lumpy batter.

Divide batter between the 12 lined muffin cups, filling right up to the top but not over. Divide streusel evenly between muffins, pressing down just slightly so it sticks to the batter. Let pan sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before baking.

Bake muffins for 15 to 18 minutes until just set and no wet batter remains in center. If you check with a toothpick, make sure that you are not mistaking the chocolate chunks for wet batter.

Photo by Anita Parris Soule. Courtesy Cook on a Whim.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *