While we could sit here and spend our time together arguing about whether these are technically decadent enough to be a cupcake or a muffin, let’s instead agree to agree that these are hands-down the lightest, most tender muffins ever known to grace my kitchen.
The subtle orange-flavored batter is studded with chocolate chips while ribbons of chocolate-infused batter run through each muffin so every taste has the hint of orange, touch of chocolate and a burst of unbelievable fluffy, moist crumb.
Although beholden with their fare share of calories, these blessed muffins are a refreshing change from the heavy, rich treats of the holidays. With “orange” and “muffin” in the title, I’ve nearly convinced myself they could classify as health food.
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, regular or mini-sized
Preheat oven to 325 degrees (for dark, nonstick pans) or 350 degrees for regular muffin tins. Line tins with cupcake liners or spray with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In a separate medium-size bowl beat together the egg, oil or butter, buttermilk, orange juice, vanilla and orange zest. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix together just until moistened. Don’t over mix! You may even see some small dry spots – as long as the mixture is evenly moistened without being overmixed, it will be fine.
Into two bowls, divide the batter in half. Sift the cocoa powder in to one of the bowls and fold in half of the chocolate chips. Fold the remaining chocolate chips into the other “white” bowl of batter.
Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the prepared muffin tins, alternating the orange and chocolate batters. Fill the cups 2/3 full. Bake for 13-15 minutes at 350 or 17-18 minutes at 325 until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool the muffins for five minutes in the tins. Remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.
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