I hope everyone had a great Easter yesterday! I had my parents over for a feast of Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf, Mac & Cheese, Twice-Baked Potatoes and a big green salad. This is what happens when you make your Mom watch The Pioneer Woman with you everyday when you’re on vacation! Everything was delicious and it was fun to be the host, which appeals to my bossy, meal-planning nature.

But this wasn’t the only Easter celebration on my calendar for the month. Last Saturday I went to a YEASTER party and I think it changed my life. YEASTER (must be in all caps) is the invention of my friend Molly. It’s a pre-Easter celebration of beer and bread, and it’s the best. Of course I wanted to contribute, and spent two weeks in a YEASTER frenzy trying to decide what I wanted to make. First though, let me tell you what Molly prepared because it was all so, so good:

Yeaster

My favourite YEASTER treat was this Chocolate Krantz Cake from the Jerusalem cookbook (to the left of the tulips). This is a yeasted dough, rolled and twisted with cocoa, melted chocolate and pecans, and is heaven on earth.  Molly freestyled this Tea Ring (in front of the tulips), which was stuffed with nuts, cherries and raisins and glazed with icing sugar. This was my second favourite. I also loved these little sesame seed buns (to the right of the Tea Ring), which Molly set out with butter and preserves, but also ham and spicy mustard. I made myself a little slider and it was the first thing I ate. We also had fresh fruit with homemade orange curd, vegetables, cheese, and chocolate eggs, natch.

For my YEASTER treats, the first thing I made was this Strawberry Balsamic Flatbread from Joy the Baker. This is a yeasted focaccia dough, topped with sliced strawberries, crumbled goat cheese, chopped fresh mint, and drizzled with balsamic glaze. It was so fresh and bright for Spring.

Strawberry Flatbread

But this last YEASTER treat was my favourite.  Dulce de Leche Rolls with a Vanilla Bean Glaze. This recipe was ideal for the party (which was on Saturday afternoon) because after you make the dough, let it rise and shape it, it sits in the fridge overnight. I brought the unbaked rolls to Molly’s and baked them while the YEASTER celebrations started, and served them warm with icing melting all over them. The dough is super soft and fluffy, and instead of rolling it up with cinnamon sugar, you spread a jar of dulce de leche over it. It was really messy and oozy, but I just kind of went with it and everything turned out okay. When the rolls have cooled, you can also wrap them up individually in plastic wrap for friends to take home, or tuck them into the freezer for a another time.

Dulce de Leche Rolls

Can I also just conclude that I am still so proud of myself for overcoming my fears of yeast. I still get a little nervous that my dough won’t rise, but I think I’ve learned so much over the past few years, and I was so happy that these treats turned out with no issues. It’s a YEASTER miracle!

Dulce de Leche Rolls with Vanilla Bean Glaze

Source: adapted slightly from Smells Like Home only because I had active dry yeast, not instant yeast, so I had to proof it first

Ingredients

Rolls

1/4 cup water, 110°-115°F

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

pinch sugar

4 egg yolks

1 egg

1/4 cup sugar

6 tbsp butter, melted

3/4 cup buttermilk

4 cups (20 oz) flour, divided

1 1/4 tsp salt

+ 1 jar dulce de leche

Icing

2 cups icing sugar

1/4 cup milk or cream

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Directions
  1. In a small bowl, add the warm water, and sprinkle the yeast and sugar over top. Stir gently with a spoon, and set aside for 5 minutes until bubbly and foamy.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg, sugar, butter and buttermilk until combined. Add 2 cups (9 oz) of the flour, the yeast mixture and the salt and stir until combined. Add 1 more cup (4.5 oz) of flour, stir until combined, and turn out dough onto a lightly floured counter. Knead for about 5 minutes, keeping the remaining cup (4.5 oz) of flour nearby, to sprinkle and add when/if the dough gets sticky. I used about half of the remaining cup, and kneaded for a total of about 7-8 minutes. The dough should be soft and a bit tacky, but not sticky.
  3. Add a little bit of vegetable oil (1 tsp or so) to a large, clean, oven safe bowl, and add the dough, moving it around a little until it’s oily on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 – 2 1/2 hours. (I preheat my oven to it’s lowest setting, then shut it off, and let the dough rise in there).
  4. After two hours, get a 9×13″ baking dish and spray it with non-stick spray. Punch down the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured counter and roll it out into a big rectangle (aim for 12×18″). Spread the dulce de leche all over the dough, leaving a 1/2″ border. Roll the dough into a log, as tight as you can, but be advised this will turn into a hot mess, no matter what you do, because the dulce de leche will ooze everywhere. Pinch the dough at the end to seal it together. Slice the dough into 12 pieces and place in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight or up to 16 hours. (Most of my dulce de leche oozed out overnight, but don’t sweat it)
  5. In the morning, take the rolls out of the fridge an hour or so before you’ll be ready to bake them and let them come to room temp. They’ll puff up a bit.
  6. Bake the rolls at 350°F for 30 minutes until golden brown. 
  7. While rolls are cooling a bit, whisk together the icing sugar, cream/milk, and vanilla bean paste (add a little more cream/milk to thin out as needed). Pour icing over the warm rolls and impress everyone.

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Cinnamon Chocolate Souffle

This is the second Baked Sunday Morning in a row where I was nervous about the recipe. I’ve never made a soufflé before, and actually now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten one before either. The only thing I knew was that they’re notorious for deflating or sinking if you’ve prepared them incorrectly or open the oven door while they’re cooking.

I decided to just dive in, as the recipe didn’t seem that complicated. The thing about a soufflé is that it’s a naturally gluten-free recipe because there’s no flour involved. The trick is that you whip the egg whites separately and fold them into a butter/chocolate/sugar/egg yolk mixture, which makes the batter very light and airy.

Here’s where things went wrong for me. In an uncharacteristic move for the Baked boys, I didn’t find there was enough instruction once we got to the actual baking directions. How full were the ramekins supposed to be? Mine were totally full, and I didn’t know if that was good or bad, since they’re supposed to rise. Are they supposed to crack on the top? I pulled mine out of the oven at the 8-minute mark, because they looked liked the picture in the book: smooth with no cracks (pictured above). But when I stuck a spoon into it, it wasn’t even close to being cooked inside. The recipe does advise to bake further at 2 minute increments until done, so I put mine back in the oven. When they were actually done though, they had some huge cracks all over the top. I’m not sure if the picture in the book was misleading or not, but I think there should have been a note in the recipe about the cracks, because as a soufflé novice, I really had no idea what to expect.

All that said, who really cares as long as it tastes great, right? I liked the flavour of the soufflé, and I used my Vietnamese Saigon Cinnamon that I ordered from The Spice House last year, and it gave it nice warm undertones. I just felt myself wishing this was a warm brownie instead of a soufflé. Conclusion: not really my thing, but it was fun to test it out and see for myself.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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My Favourite Buttermilk Pancakes

by byn on April 11, 2014

in Breakfast

My Favourite Buttermilk Pancakes

When I was growing up, pancakes weren’t a frequent breakfast option in our house, but when we did have them, they always came out of a box (sorry Mom!). I legitimately did not realize you could make pancakes without the box mix until I was like 23 and saw Christine Cushing make them on the Food Network.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many pancake recipes I’ve tried since then. There have been good, bad and ugly, that’s for sure. Then I discovered this recipe from Joy the Baker, and it was the pancake perfection I’d been searching for since I left the box behind. I still try new recipes every now and then (i.e. Peanut Butter Bacon, Banana Bourbon), but this is the standard that I come back to time and time again. They cook up with golden crispy edges which I love, and are still soft and fluffy on the inside. The buttermilk adds a richness and tang that I adore.

When it comes to cooking pancakes, I go with a non-stick skillet, and still spray it with non-stick spray just to make sure everything flips easily. I keep the pancakes warm in a low 200° oven, set on a cooking rack on top of a baking sheet to make sure they stay crispy and don’t get soggy.

Another trick I love is to freeze any leftover pancakes by letting them cool, and then wrapping little bundles in plastic wrap and sticking them in the freezer. To reheat, I just pop them in the toaster, and this way they get nice and crispy.

Previous Favourites:

My Favourite Buttermilk Pancakes

Yield: 1 dozen medium sized pancakes

Source: Joy the Baker

Ingredients

1 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 cup flour

4 tsp brown sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and oil, then whisk in the butter.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and whisk to combine, just until the dry ingredients disappear. Don’t over mix – there will be lumps, and that’s okay. This is a thick batter.
  4. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat and use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to dollop batter into the pan. Cook until the pancakes start to bubble, about two minutes or so, then flip and cook for two more minutes.

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Thai Peanut Quinoa Bowl

by byn on April 8, 2014

in Chicken & Turkey, Dinner

Thai Peanut Quinoa Bowl

I’ve been posting a lot of dinner recipes lately, and I love it. I’m on a hot streak of kitchen hits and I have to document them here or I totally forget about them. I’ve actually made this TWICE in the past two months, which may not seem like a big deal, but to me it is, since I rarely repeat recipes as I’m constantly trying to cook everything on my Pinterest Dinner board. Other things this recipe has going for it:

  • Quick
  • One pan (+ rice cooker)
  • Full of vegetables
  • Packs up well for lunch the next day
  • PEANUT SAUCE

This is just a stir-fry with cooked quinoa and couldn’t be easier. As Kristin says though, the trick to this dish or any stir-fry is to have everything mixed, chopped and ready to go before you start to cook. I used chicken in mine, but I think tofu would be great, and also lots of cilantro.

Thank you to my friend Christine who shared her obsession with Iowa Girl Eats with me last year. She’s also brought you this amazing Pulled Chicken, Taco Dip and Apple Crisp Muffins. Now I want to make all those things again!

Thai Peanut Quinoa Bowl

Source: Iowa Girl Eats

Yield: 3-4 servings

Ingredients

Thai Peanut Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp + 1 tsp peanut butter

1 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sriracha (you can use more or less depending on your spice threshold)

Stir Fry

1 cup quinoa

2 cups stock (chicken or vegetable) or water

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced or a block of tofu, cubed

2 cups coleslaw mix

1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame

2 green onions, chopped

1 egg, whisked with 1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

Directions

  1. First get your quinoa going. I make mine in my rice-cooker and it works like a charm.
  2. Next, make the sauce by adding all sauce ingredients to a microwave safe bowl and heating for 20 seconds. Whisk together until smooth and set aside.
  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet or wok over medium high heat. I give it a spray with non-stick spray. Cook the chicken or tofu until golden brown, them remove to a plate.
  4. Add a little bit of oil to the skillet (1 tsp) then add the coleslaw mix, edamame and green onions, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Make a space in the centre of the skillet and add the egg, and stir until cooked/scrambled.
  5. Add the chicken or tofu back to the skillet, along with the cooked quinoa, peanut sauce and half of the peanuts. Stir until everything is combined and hot. Divide onto plates and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts.

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Snickers Brownie Bites

by byn on April 4, 2014

in Brownies & Blondies

Snickers Brownie Bites

I’m very emotionally invested in the birthdays of my co-workers. If I know it’s your birthday, and you’re in the office, there will be treats on your special day. I don’t care if you won’t tell me the actual day (I celebrate birthmonths too), or don’t want to disclose your age (irrelevant to birthday treats) or you claim you don’t celebrate your birthday. This is an excuse for me to investigate the things you like and spoil you with a sugar explosion at 9am. So welcome to Snickers Brownie Bites.

Personally, Snickers bars don’t even crack the Top 20 on my Planet Byn Chocolate Bar Power Rankings. But this is not about me. I discovered my co-worker loves them after Halloween when we were going through some leftover candy and I filed that nugget of intel away in my brain for later. I was originally going to go with Snickers Cheesecake Brownies for him, but then Danielle sent me this link which I cross-referenced to Annie’s post on Snickers Cupcakes and here we are.

We’ve got a homemade two-bite brownie stuffed with a Snickers bite, topped with Salted Caramel Buttercream, drizzled with more Salted Caramel and sprinkled with peanuts.  I’m really glad I made these teeny because they were total sugar bombs. The most important thing was that my co-worker loved them and they made our gloomy, rainy Friday a little bit more fun!

(We actually had two birthdays at work this week, and I made Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies for the other one. People did not understand. “How did you get the Oreo in there?” Classic.)

Snickers Brownie Bites

Source: Mini Brownies from a recipe my Mom has from a magazine in the 80s, Salted Caramel from Two Peas & Their Pod, Buttercream adapted from My Favourite, overall idea from the the blogs I mentioned above

Yield: 24 brownie bites

Ingredients

Brownies

1/2 cup butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

6 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup flour

24 Snickers Bites

Salted Caramel

1 cup sugar

6 tbsp butter (3/4 stick)

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 tbsp flaky sea salt (i.e. Maldon)

Salted Caramel Buttercream

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

2 1/2 cups icing sugar

1/2 cup salted caramel

2 tbsp whipping cream

+ peanuts for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melted the butter, brown sugar and chocolate over medium heat, and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour and stir until just combined.
  4. Add the brownie batter to the muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full. They’ll rise a little bit in the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  5. While the brownies are still warm, stick a Snickers bite in the centre of each one, and press down. Let the brownies cool completely.
  6. To make the salted caramel, add the sugar to a medium saucepan over medium heat. It will melt slowly and turn a caramel colour. Add a candy thermometre, and when it reaches 350°, remove from heat and add the butter. It will hiss and pop a little bit. Stir until the butter is melted, then add the cream and salt and stir until smooth and combined. Cool to room temperature (you might want to do this step the day before).
  7. To make the icing, mix together the butter, icing sugar, salted caramel and cream with an electric mixer, or even in the food processor. Mix until smooth, and use a little bit more cream if it’s too thick.
  8. Pipe the icing onto the brownie bites with an icing bag and plain tip, or just spread on with a knife. Drizzle with salted caramel and top with a few peanuts.

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Mushroom Stroganoff

by byn on April 2, 2014

in Dinner, Vegetarian

Mushroom Stroganoff

As soon as the weather warms up, all thoughts of cozy comfort food will be lost. It’ll be all about green things and fresh vegetables and the annual tradition of trying to convince myself I like asparagus. So I’m logging this here for the Fall 2014 Byn, because I want to remember how quick, easy, warm, cozy and comforting this was.

Mushroom Stroganoff is a legit 30 minute meal, and most of that time is just slicing up the mushrooms. It would have been even faster if I bought a package of the pre-sliced ones, but I find chopping oddly therapeutic, so I like to slice them myself.  A simple, creamy sauce of sour cream and balsamic vinegar (sounds weird, just go with it) coat the mushrooms and egg noodles and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Mushroom Stroganoff

Source: A Cozy Kitchen

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

3 tbsp butter

1/2 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sour cream

1 tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

+ cooked egg noodles & chopped parsely for serving

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan or dutch oven melt the butter over medium heat, then saute the onion for about 5 minutes or until soft. Lower the heat a bit, and add the garlic, mushrooms, sour cream, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, stir well to combine, and let simmer for about 8 minutes or so, until the mushrooms are cooked. Add salt and pepper and taste to see if it needs more.
  2. Serve over egg noodles with a sprinkle of parsely.

 

 

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March on Planet Byn

by byn on March 31, 2014

in Monthly Recaps

Carbon Bar

I’ve been slowly emerging from my winter hibernation, and had an excellent month of eating, both out and in, during March. I felt like I was back on my blogging game, so you’ve already read about what was going on in my kitchen. Here’s what else was happening:

  • March kicked off with the Oscars, and Kristine came over for our annual tradition of good eats and yelling at Kelly Osbourne.  I was feeling the need for a tropical meal, so we had these BBQ Chicken Quesadillas with Pineapple Mango Guacamole, coconut rice and sauteed peppers, with these cookies for dessert.
  • We had clients in town for work, and took them to The Chase for dinner, which Toronto Life has subsequently named their #1 new restaurant of 2013. Everything was perfect. First of all, you’re served warm focaccia brushed with TRUFFLE BUTTER to start your meal, and it comes with a little recipe card, which I found so charming. For dinner, I had the beef short rib with broccoli four ways (pureed, grilled, kimcheed [stalks] and fried [florets]). If you have a special occasion to celebrate, or need to impress someone, bring them to The Chase. You won’t regret it!
  • I could not have had a better time at The Carbon Bar when I went to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday. We all shared a few of the appetizers, including crisp chicken skin (just do it, don’t question it) and a few of us shared the Pit Master Platter for dinner (pictured above). This is a feast of deliciousness that has pork ribs, beef brisket and buttermilk fried chicken, but not so much that you can’t move after, just enough to try everything and be happy. We were all also freaking out over their ‘slaw, which has corn nuts it it (amazing). Dessert was a mini banana toffee cream pie which made me miss my friend Danielle. Needless to say, I’m obsessed, and it’s really dangerous that this place is so close to my office.
  • I ran away to Florida for a week and it’s STRAWBERRY SEASON down there! I ate strawberries, yogurt and granola for breakfast everyday and was a happy, happy girl.
  • Had another great dinner at Swish by Han, which is a spot by my work that I’ve been to a handful of times. They’ve switched up the menu recently, and it’s not online, but we had pork sliders, tempura shrimp tacos, sticky chicken wings and tofu. It’s always a good idea to go there.
  • I bought the Oh She Glows cookbook, and am pretty excited to work my way through it, especially the smoothie and snack sections. Nicole and I are going to have an OSG dinner next week, so you’ll hear about that soon.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • My #1 hobby this month was complaining about the weather, but I’m sick of talking about it. I’m going to burn all my winter coats when Spring finally arrives.
  • As mentioned above, I was in Florida for a week, and shut off my phone for the entire time. No email, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or anything else. It was pretty liberating, and I binge read my way through these five books: The Kitchen House, Before I Go To Sleep, Last Night at the Viper Room, Eleanor & Park and Divergent. My favourite of the bunch was Eleanor & Park, recommended by Lainey and my friend Kathleen. Can’t wait to read her other books.
  • Back in 2008, I had pneumonia and was home from work for a month. Kristine brought me the first three seasons of How I Met Your Mother to watch, and I loved it ever since. Just finished watching the last episode and I’m still processing my feelings. I’ll update this later.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Whirligigs

I was a little nervous about this week’s recipe.  A few weeks ago Matt posted an interview with one of the recipe developers he and Renato work with for their cookbooks, and she specifically name checked these cookies as the most difficult recipe she has developed for them. Uh oh.

It turns out they weren’t so bad; maybe not the prettiest cookie out there, but Matt says in the header note that you shouldn’t be too obsessed with making them look perfect.

This is essentially a slice and bake peanut butter cookie with a dark chocolate swirl. You roll out the cookie dough into a big rectangle, spread it with melted dark chocolate, roll it into a log, and then slice it up to bake. My main issue was that the cookie dough was super soft, even after the log chilled for a few hours in the fridge, but the chocolate firmed up. This made it a little challenging to roll into a log, and then to slice, as I was battling two different consistencies. At first I tried to slice the cookies off gently with a small knife, and promptly made a mess, so I switched to a huge knife and just took no prisoners and aggressively sliced them off.

The cookies ended up nice and soft, with a nice contrast between the sweet peanut butter cookie and the bitter chocolate. It’s interesting to note that the recipe developer mentioned that she still thinks the cookie should have a milk chocolate filling, so that’s another option, but I personally loved these with dark chocolate.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Creme Brulee

I never order Crème Brûlée when I’m out, but I know people who must have it if they see it on a menu. Sure, I like it, but it’s not something I ever crave, or feel the need to make at home. Of course, for this week’s Baked Sunday Morning, I made an exception.

I don’t have anything really original to say about Creme Brûlée, except that as stated above, people go nuts for the crunchy lid of caramelized sugar covering the smooth vanilla custard underneath. I used vanilla bean paste in my custard, so it was full of little black seeds and quite pretty. I don’t own a kitchen torch, so I tried my luck under the broiler when it came to the topping, and had uneven results (I also should have sifted the brown sugar before sprinkling it over top because I had a few lumps). Trust me when I say that the co-workers who I brought these for could not care less, and ate them in about two minutes.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Mini Pancake Muffins

Our Gastropost Mission this week forced us to choose between two sweeties: Maple Syrup vs. Honey. I feel as though there’s a time and a place for honey (i.e. on peanut butter toast), but my heart belongs to maple syrup. One of my very first foodie awakenings after university was realizing that there was a difference between Aunt Jemima pancake syrup, which is what I grew up with, and legit pure maple syrup. I never turned back!

Instead of making pancakes this week, which is what I figured most members of Team Maple would be doing, I decided to make these little pancake muffins that I’ve had my eye on forever! There’s maple syrup in the batter, which is also studded with chocolate chips, and then again in the brown butter glaze, which is outstanding. It was really hard to stop eating these…they’re addictive.

Chocolate Chip Pancake Mini Muffins with Brown Butter Maple Glaze

Source: Take a Megabite

Yield: 24 mini muffins

Ingredients

Muffins

1 cup flour

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2/3 cup buttermilk (I just used 2% milk)

1 egg

2 tbsp butter, melted

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Glaze

1 cup + 2 tbsp icing sugar

3 tbsp butter, browned

3 tbsp milk

1 tsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla

+ chopped chocolate or sprinkles for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray mini muffin tins with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, butter, maple syrup and vanilla.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over dry, and stir together until just combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop into muffin tins and bake for 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  6. For the glaze, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl. If too thick, add milk. If too thin, add more icing sugar.
  7. When the muffins are cool, dunk the tops of the muffins into the glaze and sprinkle with chopped chocolate or sprinkles.

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