May 17, 2010

Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins

with Honey Pecan Cream Cheese.

Once again, I found myself staring into the pantry at a box of cereal I had been forcing myself to eat with milk: Grape Nuts. What else could I do with Grape Nuts that did not involve milk and a spoon, I wondered? The answer: low-fat Grape Nuts muffins.

Since muffins are a great vehicle for creativity, I like to toss in everything but the kitchen sink when I'm baking a batch. In this case, I added chopped 72% dark chocolate chunks and topped each muffin with a tablespoon of honey pecan cream cheese and a pecan.

These are great to eat warm out of the oven, but they were also delicious on their own later on when I brought them outside for a picnic. Since there is a cream cheese filling, it's almost as if each bite comes with a built-in topping... no toaster, knife, or jar needed!

Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins with Honey Pecan Cream Cheese

1 cup Grape-Nuts Cereal
1 cup fat-free milk
1-1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 cup chunky applesauce
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
Whole pecans
Plain cream cheese mixed with honey and pecans, to taste
2 Tbsp. margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Combine cereal and milk; let stand 3 min. Meanwhile, mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in large bowl; set aside. Beat egg in medium bowl. Add applesauce, sugar, raisins and margarine; mix well. Stir in cereal mixture until well blended. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. (Batter will be lumpy.) SPOON evenly into 12 (2-1/2-inch) muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray, filling each cup two-thirds full. Scoop one tablespoon of honey pecan cream cheese into the center of each batter and press down gently to almost completely submerge. Press one pecan next to the cream cheese. Bake 20 min. or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 min. Remove to wire rack; cool slightly. Makes 1 dozen muffins.

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