Give it a go this Easter: Gluten-free chocolate muffins

This Easter, MasterChef winner Jane Devonshire shares her delicious recipe for gluten-free chocolate muffins especially, and exclusively, for you – her fellow RNLI supporters.
Gluten-free chocolate muffins - with an RNLI twist!

Photo: RNLI/Nikki McMullen

Gluten-free chocolate muffins - with an RNLI twist!

‘I wanted to make something for the RNLI that was brave and bold,’ says Jane. ‘Just like the wonderful people who dedicate their lives to saving others - even in these difficult times.’ 

Easter won’t be the same this year, that’s for sure, with everyone spending it at home rather than celebrating with family and friends. But one thing we can still do is bake! 

Jane Devonshire, winner of MasterChef 2016

Photo: Jane Devonshire

‘Can you tell it’s gluten-free?’

Jane has been cooking and baking gluten-free food for her family for over 15 years. Her youngest son, Ben, was diagnosed as a coeliac at the age of 2. 

‘Catering for a gluten-free diet doesn’t have to be difficult - it’s just ordinary food,’ says Jane. ‘When Ben was first diagnosed with coeliac disease, there wasn’t a vast range of products available for people who needed to eat a gluten-free diet. So, I had to start from scratch at home, making recipes up, having total disasters, triumphs and genuinely discovering a way that I could daily feed my whole family a gluten-free diet.

‘Today the question I ask my family most often is not: “Do you like it?”, but: “Can you tell it’s gluten-free?” The children are brutally honest, and it’s taken a while, but this is what I strive to achieve.’

‘Chocolatey and indulgent’

Jane’s gluten-free chocolate muffin recipe has a bit of a kick and an RNLI twist. 

‘My family love this muffin recipe but wow, it’s very chocolatey and indulgent! We find the chilli in the praline gives it a great kick. If you’re not a chilli fan though, just leave it out. It’s still a deliciously rich and indulgent cake. 

‘You can jazz these muffins up with any decorations you like, such as mini eggs, sugar chicks or sugar flowers for Easter. But as my family have always supported the RNLI, I bought some fun wellington boot cookie cutters and yellow fondant icing to add an iconic RNLI stamp to them - yellow wellies!’

So, without further ado, here’s how to make Jane’s scrumptious gluten-free chocolate muffins.

Jane Devonshire's gluten-free chocolate muffins

Photo: RNLI/Nikki McMullen

Ready to serve a delicious treat?

Fudgy Chocolate Gluten-Free Salted Muffins with Chocolate Icing, Chilli Praline and RNLI Yellow Wellies

You will need:

  • muffin tin with 12 muffin cases
  • heavy-bottomed pan or frying pan (for the chilli praline)
  • silicone sheet or greaseproof paper (for the chilli praline) 
  • wellington boot cutter

Ingredients

To make 12 muffins:

  • 150g 70% dark chocolate
  • 85ml boiling water
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 150g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt flakes
  • 4 large eggs separated

For the icing:

  • 200g 70% chocolate
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 250g sieved icing sugar

For the chilli praline:

  • 100g sugar
  • 1 red chilli 
  • Splash of water

For the RNLI yellow wellies:

  • Yellow fondant icing

How to make the muffins

Preheat your oven to 180˚C/356˚F/gas mark 4. Or if you have a fan oven, preheat to 160˚C/320˚F/gas mark 3.

In a large bowl, break the chocolate into small pieces and pour on the boiling water. Stir until all the chocolate is dissolved.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and pour on the boiling water

Photo: RNLI/Nikki McMullen

Pour boiling water over your chocolate and stir until it's all melted

Add the sugar, ground almonds, softened butter, sea salt and the four egg yolks into the bowl and beat to combine thoroughly.

Separating egg yolks and whites to create Jane Devonshire's chocolate muffins

Photo: RNLI/Nikki McMullen

Separate your eggs and add the four yolks to the bowl (don't forget to keep the egg whites!)

In a separate bowl, whisk the four egg whites to stiff peaks. Using a spatula, add the egg whites in three separate batches to the chocolate mixture. Mix using a figure of eight motion to try and hold as much air in the mixture as possible.

Fill the muffin cases, place in the pre-heated oven and cook for between 22–25 minutes.  

Spooning the chocolate muffin batter into cases

Photo: RNLI/Nikki McMullen

Spoon your muffin mixture into the cases

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before icing.

Freshly baked chocolate muffins

Photo: RNLI/Nikki McMullen

Freshly baked!

How to make the icing

Break the chocolate up into small pieces and place in a bowl. Put the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water, and gently melt the chocolate until thick and glossy.  Be careful not to take it too far as it will go grainy.

Whisk the butter and sieved icing sugar really well until very light and fluffy. This will take a few minutes so don’t rush this bit. Gently pour the melted chocolate into the sugar and butter mixture and continue whisking until thick and creamy.

You can pipe the icing if you want to, but I quite like to just spoon it onto the muffins and fluff it up like waves. It will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

Jane Devonshire's chocolate muffins being iced

Photo: RNLI/Nikki McMullen

Time to ice the muffins - are you a piper or a spoon-spreader?

How to make the chilli praline

Please note: children should not help with this part of the recipe. Sugar boils at very high temperatures so be very careful. 

Place your silicone sheet or greaseproof paper over a chopping board (not metal). You might need to gently weight the corners so that they don’t curl up.

Cut the chilli in half and carefully scrape out the seed and pith with a teaspoon. Finely chop the chilli as fine as you can. 

Put the sugar in the heavy-bottomed pan or frying pan with a splash of water and place on the hob. Gently heat and agitate the pan. Don’t stir in any way or leave the pan as it can catch quickly.

This process can take a little time because it’s best to go slowly. Gently agitate the sugar. It will bubble and eventually you will see it going darker around the edges. Keep swirling the pan and you’ll notice it going a rich caramel colour all over. As soon as this happens, turn the heat off and put the chilli into the pan. Swirl around to combine and then pour onto your prepared silicone or greaseproof paper.

Gently spread out the chilli praline over the silicone sheet or greaseproof paper using a palette knife until it’s thin in places. 

Gently spread out the chilli praline until it’s thin in places

Photo: RNLI/Nikki McMullen

Gently spread out the chilli praline until it’s thin in places

Once cool, gently break the chilli praline into shards like waves. Only place the shards in the muffins if they’re going to be eaten within the next few hours.   

Breaking up the chilli praline into wave-like shards

Photo: RNLI/Nikki McMullen

Break the chilli praline into shards like waves

How to decorate the muffins, RNLI-style!

To give the muffins an RNLI theme, roll out the yellow fondant icing and cut out some RNLI yellow wellies. Place a shard of the chilli praline into each of the muffins, pushing it in quite firmly, then prop up a yellow welly against each shard.

You can crush any remaining praline with a rolling pin and sprinkle over the top of the muffins.

A chocolate muffin decorated with chilli praline and an RNLI welly made of fondant icing

Photo: RNLI/Nikki McMullen

And there we have it, an RNLI-themed chocolate muffin!

Staying connected while baking at home

Digital technology is what’s keeping many of us connected at a time when we’re unable to be with our nearest and dearest. 

If you’re able to keep in contact in this way, here are some ideas on how you can share your muffin-baking with your loved ones. 

  • Have a virtual bake-off! Video call your family and friends and challenge them to a virtual bake-off! Who will be the Muffin MasterChef?!
  • Broadcast live to your family and friends. If you consider yourself a MasterChef like Jane, get your family and friends to tune in and watch you make your muffins using Facebook Live.
  • Share your photos and videos. Film or photograph your baking and share your delectable muffin creations with your family, friends and fellow RNLI supporters on social media. Use hashtag #ShowUsYourRNLIMuffins and remember to tag the RNLI in your post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Happy Easter from your RNLI crew

On behalf of Jane and everyone at the RNLI, we wish you all a Happy Easter. In these uncertain times, your support is what keeps us going – thank you. We want you to know that we’re here to support you too because you’re part of the crew - and crew members look out for one another. We will do the best we can, so that we are still there for people like you and yours who may need us. Please take care and stay safe.

About Jane Devonshire

Jane Devonshire is best known for winning MasterChef in 2016. She has also published her first cookbook, Hassle Free, Gluten Free, in association with Coeliac UK.

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