Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry "Mupcakes"

Did you get more chocolate-dipped strawberries than you could possibly eat on Valentine's Day? Me neither. But just thinking about luscious berries dipped in sweet chocolate made me hungry for that classic combination. However, really good strawberries aren't available right now where I live. If I wanted tasty berries, I'd have to dip into my big freezer for some of last summer's crop.

But thawed berries - not so great for dipping, even if you've kept them completely intact. My solution? Incorporate strawberries and luscious, melty chocolate chips into my favorite muffin recipe, which usually calls for blueberries. The result is a decadent treat that's a little too rich to be called a muffin. It's more a cross between a muffin and a cupcake. Hence my new word: Mupcake. (Granted, the name is not as pretty as the snack is tasty.) 

Yum, right? Here's how to make them!

You'll want to assemble: 1/2 cup butter at room temperature, 1 cup sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 2 cups AP flour, 1/2 cup milk, 2 cups strawberries, and 1 (heaping) cup chocolate chips.

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Heat your oven to 375 degrees and grease 18 regular-sized muffin cups - or 36 mini-muffin cups. (These make super cute minis!) You can also use cupcake liners. I think that's easier. Then, using a hand mixer, mix the butter until it's creamy. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is well combined.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. (I had two eggs with double yolks! Never had that happen before. I don't think it changed the flavor.)

Beat in the vanilla, baking powder and salt. Then get a spoon and fold in half the milk and half the flour. Repeat.

Chop the berries and drain if they're soggy. Add about a tablespoon of flour and toss to coat. (I've been told this will keep them from sinking when they bake. I don't know the science behind it. I'm not Alton Brown. I write mystery novels!)

Carefully fold in the berries and chocolate chips, being as gentle as possible.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes, until they're golden, then try to resist the temptation to eat them before they cool. The strawberry flavor intensifies when they reach room temperature. The perfect moment is when the chips are still gooey, but the berries aren't hot.

I really wish I had a final product photo of these. If anyone makes them, please feel free to post a picture in the comments!

Snow Day Cheesy Treats

 
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Did I mention that Big Pup enjoys cheese? She is working hard to "leave it" in this photo of freshly baked cheese-and-peanut butter snacks - but about ten minutes after this was taken, she stole some of the little bones from the kitchen counter. I'm still giving her credit for having at least some restraint, though.

I call these "snow day" treats because we live in rural Pennsylvania, and I made them on a particularly cold morning, when I was determined to spend the entire day in my jammies. (Mission accomplished!) That meant making treats from stuff I had in the pantry. You'll probably have all the ingredients, too. Treat your pup without leaving home!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup shredded cheese (I used white cheddar)
1/3 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup peanut butter (any kind is fine)
1/2 cup water or broth

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put some parchment on the counter, too, for rolling out dough.
2. Mix together all the ingredients to form a dough. If the dough is too dry, add a little more water or broth. The mixture should be slightly sticky, but capable of being rolled out.
3. Place the dough on the parchment-covered counter and roll or press dough until it's about 1/4 inch thick.
4. Cut into rectangles, or use cookie cutters to make fun shapes. (I used dogs, cats and little bones.)
5. Bake for about 12 minutes, until the treats are just browning on the bottom. They will firm up and harden as they cool.
6. Allow to cool thoroughly before sharing.

HInt: If you use cookie cutters and have extra dough, roll it into little balls. They make great training treats. Sit... Stay... Eat!