A staunch supporter of using local produce while cooking, Kate Bracks, winner of MasterChef Australia 2011, uses two ingredients – hazelnuts and raspberries - that grow aplenty in her native, Orange, to add zing to chocolate muffins. And while gleefully demonstrating this recipe, on her first trip to India, she encouraged home-bakers to find alternatives to the hazelnuts and raspberries to not just lighten the burden on the pocket but to also add a touch of innovation to her recipe.
Plain flour 330 grams
Hazelnuts 100 grams (coarsely ground, slightly toasted)
Caster Sugar 300 grams
Unsalted butter 250 grams
Hazlenut/Vegetable Oil 60ml
Dark coverture chocolate 150 grams (roughly chopped)
Raspberries 150 grams
Demerara/raw sugar 30 grams
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C
2. Line the muffin tin holes with paper muffin cases
3. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients – flour, ground hazelnuts, caster sugar and salt. Expert Tip 1: Use almonds instead of hazelnuts. Toast the almonds, before grinding them, this helps bring out the flavour nicely
4. Melt the butter
5. Whisk the butter to combine it with the other wet ingredients – oil, buttermilk and eggs
6. Pour the wet mix over the dry mix and stir to combine.
7. Gently fold through the chocolate. Expert Tip 2: In baking, always remember, the better the quality of chocolate, the better the dessert tastes.
8. Then, fold through the raspberries. Expert Tip 3: The raspberries are added in last because they are delicate and might splatter all through the batter. If this happens, the muffins might turn out to be an ugly grey, which is not very appealing.
9. Spoon this mixture into muffin cases until they are almost full
10. Sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar
11. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the muffins are cooked through and golden on top
12. Set aside and allow them to cool completely.
13. Dust generously with icing sugar.
While making the muffins, Kate Bracks makes sure she practices the oft-repeated MasterChef Australia mantra to give a dish a whole lot of textures. The bursts of gooey chocolate ensure sweetness and creaminess; the raspberries bring a tangy sourness, and the Demerara sugar accounts for a crunchy top. The result is a MasterChef worthy dessert that is, both, comforting and classy.