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Chocolate Macaroon Muffins

1/4 c Butter; or margarine (about)
1/2 c Sugar
1 ts Vanilla
2 Large eggs
3/4 c All-purpose flour
1/4 c Unsweetened cocoa
3/4 ts Baking powder Macaroon filling (see below

In a large bowl, beat to blend 1/4 cup butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended. In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa, and baking powder; stir into butter mixture until well mixed. Equally divide 1/2 the batter among 8 buttered or paper-lined muffin cups (2-to 2-1/2 in. diameter). To each cup, add an equal portion of 1/2 of the macaroon filling. Next, add equal portions of remaining chocolate batter, then top equally with the remaining macaroon filling. Bake in a 350 degree oven until muffins spring back when gently pressed and macaroon filling is lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Let muffins cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool. Serve warm or cool. If making ahead, let cool, package airtight, and hold at room temperature up to 1 day, or freeze to store longer. Makes 8. MACAROON FILLING: In a food processor or bowl, whirl or beat 3/4 cup (7 oz) almond paste and 1/2 cup sugar until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add 2 large egg whites, 1 at a time; whirl or beat until smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked dried coconut.

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