Chocolate Ricotta Muffins: An Easy, Low-Fat Coffeehouse Recipe from Cleo Coyle

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My readers might recall these light, chocolaty muffins from my bestselling Coffeehouse Mystery A Brew to a Kill
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As the story opens, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi hires a sweet-natured dietitian to help lighten some of the higher calorie items on her menu. 

When Lilly is brutally struck by a hit-and-run driver, Clare’s outrage propels her into tracking down the culprit; and once again, Clare is sleuthing her way in and out of trouble. 

For today's recipe, I'm duplicating one of Lilly's coffeehouse menu makeovers. May you eat it with joy--and in good health! 

(To get the recipe, scroll down or hit the "read more" link below...)

Cleo Coyle's 
Chocolate Ricotta Muffins 

With a mocha variation 

To download this recipe in a free PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here

A few quick notes...   The star of today's recipe is, of course, the ricotta cheese, which brings creamy moistness to these muffins along with protein and nutrition. 

The fat component comes not from butter but canola oil. An even healthier option for the fat is one I sometimes choose--extra virgin, cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil. (If you've never used coconut oil before, a helpful post on particulars and brands can be found here.)  Natural cocoa powder adds flavor but also structure to the muffins, which allowed me to reduce the amount of refined white flour in the recipe. To make these muffins even healthier, you can swap in “white whole wheat” flour instead of all-purpose, which brings more dietary fiber to your snack table. Finally, gluten-free flour is always an option for those who need it. 

And now for the recipe...

Makes 6 large muffins or 8 small


1 large egg 
½ cup ricotta (whole or part-skim) 
½ cup light buttermilk (shake before measuring) 
3 Tablespoons oil (canola, vegetable, or extra virgin coconut) 
¼ cup granulated white sugar 
¼ cup light brown sugar 
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon natural, unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
2 pinches of table salt 
¾ teaspoon baking powder 
¼ teaspoon baking soda 
½ cup + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour 


For Mocha Muffins, add 1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso where indicated in Step 1. Instant espresso is freeze-dried espresso and not ground espresso roast beans. I use this brand (Medaglia D’oro), but you can certainly use any you like. 

Chocoholics: Feel free to fold in semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips before baking (1/3 to 1/2 cup, according to your own taste). You can even “go nuts” and add finely chopped hazelnuts or walnuts. 

Step 1 – Make muffin batter with one-bowl mixing method: Using a hand whisk or electric mixer, beat the egg until slightly frothy. Measure in the ricotta, light buttermilk, oil, white and light brown sugars, cocoa, vanilla extract, salt, baking powder, and baking soda (if making mocha muffin, add your 1-1/2 teaspoons of instant espresso now). Whisk well until fully blended. Measure in the flour. Mix only enough to make a smooth batter. Do not over-mix at this stage or you’ll develop the gluten in the flour and your muffins will be tough instead of tender.  

Step 2 – Spray the papers: Line muffin cups with paper holders and spray the papers with non-stick spray. This is a low-fat recipe, so if you do not spray the papers, the muffins will stick. 

Step 3 – Bake: This recipe makes about 1-3/4 cups of muffin batter. You can make six large muffins or eight small ones. Divide the batter among your muffin cups. Bake in a well-preheated oven at 375° F. for about 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Do not over-bake. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into a test muffin comes out clean (with no batter clinging to it). 

TIP: Muffins will be fragile when they first come out of the hot oven. Allow them to cool in the pan for about ten minutes and transfer to a rack. If muffin edges are sticking to the paper, simply allow them to cool a bit more. Optional frosting: If you like, finish cooled muffins with a dollop of my Chocolate “Buttercream” Frosting (without butter or cream). What is the mystery ingredient in this "healthified" chocolate frosting? (Followers of this blog already know. :)) Get my healthier chocolate frosting recipe by clicking the link above or clicking here

F   o  o  d  i  e 
P h o t o s

To see more recipes from 
A Brew to a Kill, click here 
for the illustrated guide, and...

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Eat (and read) with joy! 

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
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