There are some things that are just meant to go together: sweet tea and pulled pork; a Durham Bulls game and peanuts; Sunday afternoons and naps; strawberries and chocolate. Today’s column celebrates the latter, taking the best of sweet seasonal berries and pairing them with the best form chocolate takes (in my book): nutella.
A friend once said, “Nutella is God in sweet, spreadable form!” Well, this preacher lady might get into a bit of hot water saying such things, so let me instead say that nutella is proof that God loves us. Oh yes, the Divine must have inspired such a heavenly confection of rich, smooth chocolate and hazelnut flavors.
I’ll be the first to admit, y’all, that baking is probably not my strong suit. Cooking comes a bit more naturally, but I do have quite the sweet tooth, and so I shall bake nonetheless. These muffins were, however, a success! They have a cake-like consistency and are dotted with juicy jewels of farm-fresh strawberries. But the real glory of them lies in what’s inside: swirls of sumptuous nutella. They may not look the most beautiful on the outside, but if we’re not meant to judge a book by its cover, or a person by their appearance, then we should extend the same to muffins. A bit of lumpiness here and there is inconsequential when such chocolatey treasure lies within.
I couldn’t decide whether to call them cupcakes or muffins, but decided that the title of “muffin” means they are acceptable as a breakfast food. Muffins it is: start your day off on a sweet, heavenly note.
Nutella-Filled Strawberry Muffins
Makes 12 large muffins.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt, whisked
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups fresh chopped strawberries
1/2 cup nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread, found near the peanut butter in the store)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, yogurt and vanilla, until well combined. Gently fold the wet mixture into the dry until all flour is incorporated. The batter will be very thick, don’t worry. These muffins are perfectly moist. Gently fold strawberries into the batter, working them evenly throughout. Place a heaping tablespoon of batter in each muffin cup. Add a heaping teaspoonful of nutella on top, then finish with another tablespoon of the batter. Perhaps smoothing them on top would make yours prettier than mine (but remember, it’s what’s on the inside that counts!). Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. These muffins can be stored at room temperature for two days, or refrigerated for up to four. Trust me, though, they will not go uneaten that long!
The Rev. Whitney Wilkinson is pastor of Cameron Presbyterian Church.