My childhood best friend's mother was the queen of boxed cooking. Whenever I had dinner at their house, we feasted on "canned cream of" casseroles and powdered scalloped potatoes. But here's the thing. The food was always hearty, fed a crowd, and appeared on the table at the same time every night. No exceptions.
While the meal may not have been gourmet, it was still a quality family dinner. I was always welcome at the table and there was always plenty to go around. The best part about hanging at her house, though, was what happened in the morning. I could always rely on fresh-from-the-oven muffins. They always came from a bagged mix, but that never bothered me. I was a cereal and cheese toast kind of kid, so I was easily impressed by feats such as "homemade" breakfast.
I loved the chocolate chip kind the most, which always seemed more like eating dessert, especially served warm with a cold glass of milk. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask) it has been years since I've had those just-add-milk muffins. Lately I've been doing a lot of breakfast baking, when all of a sudden a stray bag of chocolate chips sparked the muffin memories of youth. I immediately went to work, adapting my favorite blueberry muffin recipe to instead include chocolate chips.
The first cakey bite tasted just like the delicious muffins I remembered. Only this time, from-scratch. Gone now are the lazy days of childhood, with its slumber parties and sleepovers, but at least I have this recipe to always take me back. Perhaps I'll even serve it to my kids and their friends. And perhaps their friends will be very impressed.
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, or one stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until completely incorporated.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, while continuing to beat until just mixed (ending with flour). Stir in the vanilla and chocolate chips.
Line 8 cups in a standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Mound the batter into the liners, filling almost to the top. Cook the muffins for 20 - 25 minutes, until a toothpick come comes out clean when inserted into the muffin. (Start checking at 20 minutes, making sure not to overcook the muffins.) Allow to the muffins to cool directly in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)