I work with some pretty amazing people. Seriously. How many people out there can say the same thing? I have eleven coworkers I see on a daily basis, and I really enjoy each and every one of them. So when one of them mentioned on Friday that today was her birthday, I later looked at the schedule to see that she was starting work at 4:30 A.M. Did she ask for the day off? No. Did she ask for a later start? Nope. Nothing. So I thought it would be appropriate to bring her some sort of celebratory homemade baked good to celebrate her day.
I made myself some guidelines.
1. Nothing super rich and heavy. Out goes the flour-less chocolate cake, the three-tiered traditional birthday cake, and even those decadent cheesecake brownies. It’s crazy early in the morning, after all!
2. No breakfast pastries. We sell these at work. And furthermore, coffee cake is not a proper celebratory baked good. It’s a fact.
3. No raisins. My coworker is not a fan of the dehydrated grape.
This posed quite a challenge, but after some research, I decided on something in muffin form. It’s just easier that way. No messy plates and forks and knives, but yet it’s a little bit fancier than a cookie. Well, you’re average cookie. And if you really wanted to, you could stick a candle in it.
So I found a recipe. It came from one of my long-time blogs I’ve kept up with for years, Smitten Kitchen. When in doubt with a baked good, I faithfully turn to Deb. Whatever occasion or mood, I can find the right sweet to satisfy whatever sort of occasion or mood I’m in. And I found the recipe. Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes. It seemed like the perfect morning birthday celebration. A little chocolate for the birthday. A little yogurt for the morning. And it paired perfectly with my coworker’s favorite coffee. The cakes had really deep taste, but still carried a lightness that was necessary for the wee hours. We added some freshly made whipped cream, and she even asked to take a few home with her. By mid-afternoon, the cakes had disappeared into (I hope) some happy bellies.
Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
A few notes on the chocolate. Don’t use the cheap stuff. The chocolate flavor really is noticeable in the muffins. I used my favorite chocolate, a Ghiradelli 60% cocoa bar that really had a nice, deep flavor.
7 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup greek yogurt (I used a fat free one I had in my fridge)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cupcake liners or lightly butter the pan.
2. Melt chocolate and 1/4 cup oil in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, then in 15 second increments, stirring well between each until smooth (you could also use a double-boiler, but the microwave plan seemed much easier).
3. In another bowl, mix the remaining 1/4 cup oil with yogurt, sugar, eggs and vanilla and almond extracts.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yogurt mixture. Stir lightly a couple of times, then add the melted chocolate and stir until just smooth.
5. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until they feel barely set in the middle and a tester or toothpick comes out clean.
6. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before serving. You could eat it on its own, but we’ve decided that adding a dollop of freshly whipped cream is way more celebratory.