Cocoa Raspberry Resolution Muffins (with Cream Cheese Fillling!)

It's New Year's Eve and folks everywhere are preparing lists of resolutions they'll break in 2011. I don't mean to be negative, but it's the truth and we all know it. New Year's resolutions have always been about things you don't really want to do, so most people never make it through the year, let alone into spring, without falling off the wagon. I've always tried to keep my resolutions simple and attainable, but I've been at a loss for what I should vow to work on 2011 -- until now.

If you've been reading the blog a while, you've no doubt noticed a distinct lack of sweet baked goods in my repertoire. It's partly because I don't have much of a sweet tooth but also because I consider myself much more of a "cook" than a "baker" and I've racked up enough disappointing pastry disasters to prove it. But there's no reason why I can't learn to be a better baker or even a GREAT baker. So, my 2011 New Year's Resolution is to bake more sweet treats!

This may seem counter-productive, as many people are vowing to cut back on their sweets, but I'm taking a slightly different approach that makes sense for me. Here are the criteria for my 2011 challenge:

  1. Design small batch recipes (6-8 servings) 
  2. Combine savory with sweet when possible 
  3. Give baked goods as gifts 
I'm starting early with these decadent Cocoa Raspberry Muffins, inspired by Isa's recipe in Vegan Brunch, filled with a barely sweet cream cheese filling. Can I get a "yum-o" on this one?

Cocoa Raspberry Resolution Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling
Adapted from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Yield: 8 muffins

1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp canola oil
1 Tbsp applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2/3 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Cream Cheese Filling:
2 oz vegan cream cheese (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
3 Tbsp vegan powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly spray muffin tin with canola oil (or use foil liners).

In a small bowl, beat or whisk cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Place in the fridge while you prepare your muffin batter.

In a glass measuring cup, stir apple cider vinegar into almond milk and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the flour mixture and add oil, applesauce, vanilla and almond extracts, and almond milk mixture. Stir with a fork until well combined. Fold in raspberries carefully.

Fill 8 muffin cups with approximately 2 Tbsp of batter. Spoon about 1 Tbsp of cream cheese filling into the center of the cup, pressing down slightly so the muffin batter surrounds the edges. Top with another 2 Tbsp of muffin batter, covering most of the cream cheese filling.

Bake 25-27 minutes. Cool in the muffin tins for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack. Enjoy as part of a decadently balanced breakfast, or pair with your favorite red wine for dessert!

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