whole grain double chocolate muffins + salted caramel sauce

double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook!

Here is a rough portrait of my skills and strengths when I was 18:  Falling on my face on the soccer field.  Organizing a MySpace Top 8. Driving badly. Sending 120-character text messages on my awesome flip phone (but only to ask when we’re meeting up to get burritos or if so-and-so needs a ride, because no one has real conversations over texts, don’t be crazy).  Composing AIM away messages with carefully curated song lyrics that mean things.  And making Kraft macaroni & cheese.

I say all this because, in slight contrast, a gal we all know and love spent her 18th year (and 17th!) single-handedly cooking for, shooting, and writing a cookbook. While continuing an award-winning blog. And still attending, and casually kicking butt in, high school. A cookbook, you guys! Izy is literally too cool for school.

The thing is, Izy’s gorgeous book isn’t a cookbook that’s marvelous because she’s 18 — it’s a marvel all on its own. Every page is filled with a keen sense of taste, a love for food, and an eye for art that age doesn’t bestow. Not to mention the most wonderful, genuine personality (which I can attest to, having met the lovely Izy in person back in May!) that shows that the greatest inspiration is both inside and out.

double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook!
double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook

When I came across this recipe for double chocolate muffins in Izy’s cookbook, I knew instantly what I’d be making first. I’ve been on a years-long hunt for the perfect chocolate muffin — the kind that draws you in at the coffee shop, your face to the glass of the display window, and has you clutching a wax-paper bag before you know what hit you; the ones with a satisfying layer of chocolate chunks studded on top and a comfortingly dense crumb, decadent without being too sweet.  I’ve tested a few recipes, but with middling success, and after awhile I just shelved the idea in pursuit of less classically legendary desserts and more attainable goals.

But when I flipped to Izy’s version, I knew the search was over. Izy’s recipe is stocked full of whole grains and hefty oat flour, but also an extra generous helping of cocoa and dark chocolate — together, the combination yields a muffin that feels just hearty enough to enter totally-justified breakfast territory, while still chocolate-y enough that you know you’re getting away with eating dessert for breakfast. And that’s the whole beauty of Izy’s book. It’s the perfect balance between decadence and nourishment, healthfulness and flavor, without suggesting that there’s ever been a compromise.

double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook!
double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook!
double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook!
double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook
double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook!
double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook!

Of course, it being me, I couldn’t resist adding another something from her cookbook to unbalance this balanced muffin. But this salted caramel sauce of hers is so good. The thing I love about new cookbooks is the chance to learn the kitchen skills I’ve been meaning to master but have been otherwise too scared (or too lazy) to — with Steph’s book, it was risotto; with Izy’s, it was finally mustering the courage to try homemade caramel.

After all the psyching out from visions of splatters and burns, over-crystallization, and bitter blackened sugar bits, just settling down and following Izy’s instructions really did make the caramel, in her words, “easy az.” You do have to keep an eye on the caramel as it bubbles, but there wasn’t too much of a splatter hazard, in reality, and homemade caramel has an incredibly deep, butterscotch-y warmth that the storebought version just can’t compare to. I used a rosemary-infused sugar I had on hand to flavor the caramel just slightly, and the result was unreal. I made double the amount in the recipe below, and ended up eating most of it just with a spoon. Again … so good.

double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook
double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook
double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook
double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook
double chocolate muffins with salted caramel sauce, from the top with cinnamon cookbook

Izy, congratulations on such an unbelievably beautiful book! Thank you for the constant inspiration, and all the delicious eats in these shiny pages. I can’t wait to make everything in it.

reprinted with permission from Top with Cinnamon, by Izy Hossack (Hardie Grant, $29.95)

The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it makes a mix — perfect for small batch bakers.  The muffin mix will keep for one month at room temperature or three in the freezer.   Also, if you don’t have oat flour, you can blend oats in a food processor or blender until mealy, which is what I did.

for the muffin mix:

45 g (1 ½ oz or ½ cup) oat flour
250 g (9 oz or 2 cups) whole wheat flour
85 g (3 oz or 1 cup) cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
275 g (10 oz or 1 ¼ cups) coconut sugar or granulated sugar
120 ml (4 oz or ½ cup) vegetable oil or melted coconut oil

for one batch of 4 muffins:

200 g (1 ¼ cups) of the muffin mix, above
1 egg
4 tbsp milk
15 g (½ oz) dark chocolate, ideally 60% cocoa solids or above, chopped

1. To make the muffin mix: in a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients except for the oil, until well-combined. Add the oil and use your hands to rub it into the dry ingredients. At this point you can store the mixture in an airtight container or jar. It will last for a month at room temperature or 3 months in the freezer.
2. To make the muffins: preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). In a bowl, stir the muffin mix with the egg and milk until just combined. Divide between 4 cups of a muffin tin, lined with paper cases. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate over and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool (or eat them straight away!)

Notes: A double batch of these muffins (or 2 ½ cups of muffin mix) yielded exactly a dozen small muffins in my Wilton pan, and baked up in a little less time than the recipe indicates, about 16-17 minutes. A jumbo pan would likely make the four muffins indicated (eight for a double batch), and require 20-25 minutes as noted above.

reprinted with permission from Top with Cinnamon, by Izy Hossack (Hardie Grant, $29.95)

3 ½ tbsp granulated sugar
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp salted butter
4 tbsp whipping cream
flaky salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling

1. To make the caramel, heat the sugar with 4 tablespoons of water in a deep saucepan, stirring until the sugar just dissolves. Continue to heat the mixture, swirling the pan often, but not stirring. Let it caramelise so that the mixture is mostly golden with a few darker areas around the edges of the pan. Add the butter and cream (be careful as it may spit and bubble up), turn down the heat to low and stir until a smooth consistency is achieved. Cook the caramel for a further 5 minutes to help it thicken, then immediately pour it all over the cake. Sprinkle with the salt and leave to cool and set.

Notes: Infuse an herbal note into the caramel by using an herb-infused sugar, or by heating the cream briefly with a sprig of the herb of your choice and letting it infuse while you caramelize the sugar in Step 1. I used rosemary here and it was fantastic.


    • tworedbowls says:

      October 21, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      HA!! Oh our 18-year-old selves… although I think I’d still be down for a couple of grandmother freezer meals. 😉

  1. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Your list of what you were doing at 18 is hilarious…and sounds pretty similar to mine…Izy puts us to shame! What an amazing accomplishment. These muffins look so insanely delicious. Chocolate and caramel for breakfast? That is my kind of recipe! Hope you are doing well!!

  2. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 8:15 am

    When i was 18, I could not even cook a cake let alone write a recipe book!
    I was interested in textiles/fashion ( like every girl) to be honest. The irony is, now I own a sweet baking blog at 22. Mmm nothing warms the belly like caramel and chocolate…

  3. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Wow I want this book!! I can’t really tell, are the recipes in grams or cups? I’d love to buy it but don’t want to get it and then have to do all the conversions (but I suppose I will, if that’s absolutely necessary!).


    • tworedbowls says:

      October 14, 2014 at 11:11 pm

      Hi Tanya! The recipes above are reprinted verbatim from Izy’s book and are pretty representative of the measurements of her other recipes — ingredients measured by teaspoons and tablespoons are only measured by those units, and anything measured by cups, grams, or ounces will generally have all three provided, especially in baking recipes. Pretty awesome! 🙂

  4. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 10:26 am

    i’ve been drooling over all of the beautiful creations out there made from Izy’s recipes, and this muffin recipe is no exception! cocoa + muffins were meant for each other!

    and these photos are too beautiful, dear friend! love the light and mood you captured. xo!

  5. cakeoversteak says:

    October 14, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Beautiful, Cynthia! I always love the compositions you create for your gorgeous photos. Funny side note – just last night I was talking about AIM away messages with friends, and what silly things we all used to put up there. Song lyrics were definitely on the list. xoxo

  6. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I love seeing Izy’s creations through the filter of all my favourite bloggers. Her gorgeous muffins look ever more gorgeous on your blog, and then there’s the fun of tweaking/combining the recipes, which open up so many new possibilities. Double chocolate and salted caramel! And rosemary sugar?! You’re right about irresistable chocolate muffins in coffee shops, but this is the stuff you’d find in the coffee shop of my dreams.

  7. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Izy is truly a marvel, but so are your photos, they just invite to get lost in the beautiful world of food. And these muffins.. I am so making them this weekend!

  8. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    What an incredibly gorgeous post with top-notch pics, mouthwatering recipes for muffins (double chocolate? yess!) & salted caramel (give me that spoon). You’ve done it again, Cynthia; capturing the beauty of cooking & baking. Can’t wait to get Izy’s book! I still can’t get my head around the fact that she is so young yet SO brilliant! Well, some people simply know how to rock the world. Maybe for Christmas? (I’ve bought so many cookbooks in the last two months that I need a short break.)

    P.S. Weren’t those flip phones the best???

  9. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Ugh Cynthia, you have such a way with words!!! Aka a way that makes me go want to stuff my face with three chocolate muffins STAT. Topping chocolate with salted caramel?!?!? You are my HEROOOOOOOO. <33333

  10. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Homahgoodnessss! If there was ever a prodigy, Izy might just be it! I can’t imagine all the work she’s had to do juggling the universe pretty much, but her hard work is definitely showing through these beautiful recipes and photos. 🙂 And I was so so excited when I saw a new post, haha! Literally can’t get enough of your posts. #creeperalert
    By the way, super clever–too cool for school literally. 😛

  11. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    You had me at `double chocolate`. Also, salted caramel sauce is so so dangerous to have around! I love the idea of having some in the fridge for impromptu ice cream sundaes but life just does not work like that – I just end up eating it all with a spoon straight out of the bowl!

  12. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I truly love this post!Your writing makes me smile from ear to ear. It’s so great to see Izzy’s recipes being made by other amazing bloggers. Her book is so amazing! 🙂

  13. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    So glad you’re sharing this here because heck yes, Izy kicks major butt! At age 18, I don’t think I’d even considered the meaning of stepping into the kitchen. Whaddya mean there’s more to do there than stuff my face with microwaved Hot Pockets after swim practice? You two are a dangerous duo and I’m totally looooving your take on this recipe. So happy you could share it and spread the word about this KILLER cookbook!!!

  14. says:

    October 14, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    you said it perfectly– it isn’t a marvelous cookbook just because she’s 18, it’s a flat-out marvelous cookbook! i must try these muffins soon. your photos of them are absolutely breathtaking, lady! i’ve actually had this post open on my computer all day for when i needed the inspiration (sorry, in the most non-stalker way possible). but um yeah and let’s discuss aim away messages. they were the best.

  15. says:

    October 15, 2014 at 9:06 am

    That’s so funny, my blog post writing up one of Izy’s recipe literally goes the same way – what was I doing when I was 18, how amazing is Izy?, isn’t she amazing NOT JUST BECAUSE SHE’S 18. We’re so on the same page. As we are with these muffins with caramel sauce which look SO GOOD. Too many caps, sorry 🙂

  16. says:

    October 15, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Oh my gosh, I feel like I’m just getting my act together *right now*, so Izy seriously blows my mind. And these muffins? Amazing. I would have been hooked either way, but the caramel sauce? Too good. (And your images, as always, are stunning.)

  17. says:

    October 15, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I really love your review of Izy’s book and the rosemary twist on the caramel is just a delight – I can only imagine how delicious those muffins with caramel would be!

  18. says:

    October 15, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I’m just so blown away by Izy and everything she’s accomplished. At almost double her age, I feel pretty inadequate with what I’ve done in life. Sigh. I need a batch of these muffins to make myself feel better now (with a tall glass of salted caramel sauce to gulp on the side). Your photos are stunning as always, my friend.

  19. says:

    October 15, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Umm…what?! At 18 I was out galavanting and up to no-good shenanigans. lol! Izy rocks, and from the looks of it, so does her new cookbook! Thanks for introducing me to her 🙂 and this turned out so so good, it looks amazing, and I can never turn down chocolate muffins, let alone with salted caramel sauce…drool. Hope you’re well, Cynthia!! Ahhh I’m going to email you TODAY. Talk soon 🙂 <3

  20. says:

    October 17, 2014 at 1:57 am

    You are so right, Cynthia; she is so talented no matter what. Age is irrelevant, though it does make me admire her talent even more. 🙂

    Love the support you always give to the community, and let me just say, LOVEEEEEEE your photos always.

  21. says:

    October 17, 2014 at 10:28 am

    beautiful photos!!
    kraft mac & cheese was definitely what i was making at 18.
    what is really wonderful to me is the sharing of ideas from food blogger to food blogger…cookbook to cookbook! i need to take a look at izy’s book 🙂

  22. says:

    October 18, 2014 at 2:41 am

    As always, your photographs stun, your words etch a smile on my face, and it’s all completed by Izy’s lovely recipe. Undoubtedly, chocolate + caramel is one of the most divine creations out there. Thank you for sharing.

  23. says:

    October 18, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I can’t completely remember being 18 either, but I wasn’t doing anything NEARLY as awesome as Izy H either. I need to get a copy of her book!

    These muffins sound DIVINE!

  24. Anonymous says:

    June 11, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Hi !

    I tried this receipe but the mix , after adding the egg and milk to the 1 1/4 cup of the muffin mix, was more like a dough and still very ”grainy”. Not a nice homogeneous batter like your pictures. I followed the instructions very carefully… Should I add more milk next time I try it ?

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