Double chocolate and date muffin balls

I always make sure that my kids’ snacks cabinet is packed with a mixture of savory and sweet snacks. To be really honest, I spend more time reading all the prepackaged foods in the grocery store than preparing my own in the kitchen! Nowadays, there are countless options for healthier snacks on the shelves, but you usually pay for the quality. It can be very costly to buy something that is preservative, colouring, artificial flavoring free.

Most children prefer sweet snacks, and mine are no exception, but providing something with zero added sugar is ALMOST a mission impossible. In our home, we do offer a limited amount of chocolate or added sugar items to our children, because we believe that with moderation, they can be “healthy,” as long as we monitor the amount and frequency of these treats.

To save money and shopping time, I’ve been researching baking without sugar and how sugar affects the bake results, and it turns out it’s not so simple. Fortunately, this experimental bake turned out successfully, and most importantly, my kids enjoyed the results.

In the recipe, I substituted 100% date paste for the light brown sugar and adjusted the milk amount, which is why I think the batter was more like a dough. You can also easily make them into muffin lollies, which will be fun for the kids and probably less messy.

It’s simple to double to triple the recipe to make extras.

Chocolate Breakfast Muffins, adapted from recipe by King Arthur Baking.

Makes 10 muffin balls


2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cup (270g) 100% date paste (alternatively, soak dried dates, remove seeds, and measure weight after soaking, then blend drained dates until smooth)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp instant decaf espresso powder (optional)

¾ tsp salt

2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

2 large eggs

½ cup to ¾ cup full-fat milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp white vinegar

8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Recipe Preparation

Preheat the oven to 170℃. Line baking tray with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, baking powder, instant espresso powder (if using), baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, vinegar, and date paste thoroughly.

Add the wet ingredients, then the melted butter, into the dry ingredients. Stir and fold with a spatula gently until just combined, with no more dry bits remaining. The consistency of the mixture should be like a cookie dough.

Divide dough into 10 even pieces by using a spoon to scoop out a piece of dough and forming a ball with slightly wet hands. Place chocolate balls onto the prepared baking tray, 5cm apart; Bake muffin balls for 20-23 minutes.

Remove tray from oven and let balls rest on the tray for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Prepared and cooled muffin balls can be store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days or frozen in Ziploc bags for 3 months.

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