Dark Chocolate Chunk-Cherry Muffins

Dark Chocolate Chunk-Cherry Muffins
By Brian Nicholson and Sarah Huck

Makes 1 1/2 dozen muffins

When it comes to breakfast treats, Molly Killeen at Made By Molly knows best. She's been doing it for over 15 years and spent more than a decade as the pastry chef at the celebrated NYC bakery Amy's Bread. The addition of fresh sour cherries takes this already excellent chocolate muffin to the level of magic. The fruit creates soft pockets that zing against the dark chocolate crumb and toothy chocolate chunks. You could dress them up with a scoop of ice cream for dessert, but these are true breakfast muffins, to be enjoyed with a morning coffee. Use the best quality cocoa powder you can find (Valrhona is a great choice).

1/2 cup / 115 g unsalted, European-style butter, melted
1/2 cup / 120 ml vegetable oil
2/3 cup / 70 g unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2/3 cup / 140 g semisweet chocolate chunks or chips, divided
4 large egg whites
1 cup / 200 g granulated sugar
1 1/3 cup / 320 ml buttermilk
2/3 cup / 160 ml sour cream
1/4 cup / 60 ml molasses
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups / 170 g bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups / 310 g pitted sour cherries

Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Lightly grease 18 cups of two standard-size muffin tins or fill them with paper liners.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter with the oil, cocoa powder, and 1/3 cup of the chocolate chips, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar until foamy. Whisk in the buttermilk, sour cream, molasses, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk the mixture well to combine. Whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, and then fold the wet ingredients gently into the dry ingredients. Add the remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips as you fold. Do not overmix.

Divide the batter evenly amongst the prepared muffin tins; tuck a small handful of cherries gently into the batter of each cup (this helps prevent the fruit from sinking during baking). Transfer the tins to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue to bake until the tops of the muffins feel slightly firm when pressed with a finger, 10 to 15 minutes more. They will dome slightly while baking, then settle as they cool. If the tops of the muffins seem to be browning too much for your liking, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F / 165°C. Remove the tins from the oven and cool the muffins in their pans on a wire rack until completely cool before turning them out.