Baked Sunday Mornings: Chocolate Cheesecake Muffins

Is the difference between a muffin and a cupcake a function of the ratio of butter to flour to egg to oil? I've never been sure of where to to draw the muffin vs. cupcake line of demarcation, but the headnote to this week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, "Chocolate Cheesecake Muffins," suggests that the distinction is a matter of ingredient ratios. Even after making the recipe, I'm still unsure where the line is, because I'm not convinced that these actually fall into the muffin category.

This recipe has a very chocolatey batter encasing a nugget of cream cheese and white chocolate. You make the batter in typical muffin fashion: combine the dry ingredients in one bowl (flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt); combine the wet ingredients (cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate melted in hot water and hot coffee, with oil, vinegar, and eggs added) in another; and fold the dry into the wet. After the mixture is smooth, you fold in chopped chocolate (I used chocolate chips). The filling is a mixture of softened cream cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla, salt, and chopped white chocolate.

The recipe says that it yields 12 muffins and I wanted to make two dozen, so I doubled the recipe. As I assembled my bowl of dry ingredients and my bowl of wet ingredients, I quickly realized that the scale of the recipe was out of control. I had to use the 7-quart bowl of my Kitchenaid stand mixer to combine the two, because none of my other bowls was large enough.

Upon realizing that my enormous bowl of muffin batter was going to make a lot more than 2 dozen muffins, I decided to use paper cupcake liners so to speed things up (because I only have two muffin tins, and oiling and washing them between batches was going to be a hassle). I used a #30 scoop to put some batter in the bottom of each cupcake liner, followed by a heaping #60 scoop of the cream cheese filling, with another #30 scoop of chocolate batter on top. The muffin batter was very thin, and it didn't completely cover the cream cheese filling
When I took the muffins out of the oven, they looked nothing at all like the picture in the cookbook. The cookbook photo shows muffins with a peaked and deeply cracked top, and cream cheese peeking through the cracks. The photo also shows a cross section of a muffin revealing a broad swath of cream cheese filling that extends from edge to edge. The tops of my muffins were smooth and relatively flat, and the filling was a compact dollop that stayed in the middle of the muffins.
The chocolate portion of the muffin is intense -- with so much coffee and espresso powder in the batter, the flavor is dark and full-bodied. The texture is closer to a brownie than a cake. Almost all of the chocolate chips sank to the bottom. The filling was quite rich and didn't really remind me of cheesecake -- I think it was the white chocolate chunks that threw me off; they seemed a bit out of place (they were not unpleasant, but just unexpected). The combination of the chocolate, coffee, and cream cheese made the muffins quite astringent.

My double batch produced exactly enough batter and filling to make 48 muffins, or precisely twice the stated yield. With so many extra muffins on my hands, it's a good thing that they were a huge hit with my tasters. And why wouldn't they be? They are chocolatey, rich, and decadent. To that end, they didn't seem anything like an archetypal muffin, so I would put them in the cupcake category. But call them what you want -- regardless, they are delicious!

Recipe: "Chocolate Cheesecake Muffins" from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.


Susan said…
How funny - I doubled the recipe, too, and had to dump everything into a bigger bowl! I never thought I use all the batter! And, I agree - I'm not entirely convinced these are muffins, either. In any case, they're delicious!
Anonymous said…
They look beautiful! I over-baked mine a touch, so they came out dry... I'm jealous of yours. I also found that in standard muffin tins, the recipe made 2 dozen. I considered making a double batch myself, but figured it would over-flow some bowls. Nice job. Your blog is always so lovely and I love your writing.
Louise said…
I think that often the difference between a cupcake and a muffin is merely frosting on the cake. : )
Anonymous said…
It sounds like a number of us were pondering the same question this week! A friend of mine posited the theory that muffins have about double the quantity of flour, which is probably about right. Yes, these definitely skirt the line, but I have no real problem with this. Yours look great, and I'm glad you liked them! :)
Looks great! I love have your filling stayed in a dollop. My filling was a little thin. But still super yummy! My husband called them cupcakes. I honestly don't know the difference now.
Anonymous said…
The crumb looks awesome! I see now that I accidentally (cough.i.don' melted the white chocolate to put in the filling. Whoops! Love your parchment tulips too. :)