Isn’t She Lovely?

Apr 24, 2024

In my early years as a “foodie”, I owned and operated a gourmet food and wine store and small café in Bangor, Maine.  Located on Central Street in the downtown district, my restaurant, Café Nouveau, was one of only two eating establishments in the neighborhood.  Just a few steps away from the courthouse, post office, and banks, our regular customers were business types, often on foot, with little time to spare.

In addition to breakfast and luncheon fare, my café also featured wine dinners and guided winery tours to California.  A highlight of every pilgrimage to San Francisco was a trip to Mendocino and breakfast at Café Beaujolais.  Chef and owner Margaret S. Fox served homey and delicious food, renowned as some of the best in the state.

“At Café Beaujolais, respect is paid to all morning moods.  While the homey little restaurant, with its bare wooden floor and flowers nodding gaily on each table can seem obnoxiously cheerful, I have watched grouchy people, who clearly consider morning a personal affront, order by pointing, and leave the restaurant in perfect silence”, wrote Ruth Reichl, former editor of Gourmet Magazine, and recipient of six James Beard Foundation awards.

Inspired by Fox’s craft and creations, I incorporated many of her preparations into my café’s offerings, including Mocha Walnut Muffins.  Urban legend has it that Fox adapted this recipe, specifically developed for Stevie Wonder, and served to him at an Oakland café frequented by musicians.

The combination of strong black coffee, cocao, and buttermilk gives these confections a nice, light crumb, and not too sweet, intense mocha bite. For chocolate aficionados, these muffins will surely satisfy your primal cravings.

For those too frantic with life and rushed for a morning coffee break, or at your next business breakfast meeting, picture a warm, fresh from the oven morsel of walnut and chocolate.  Isn’t she lovely? Perhaps what the world needs right now are more Mocha Walnut Muffins to put a smile on our face.

Stevie Wonder Mocha Walnut Muffins

Cheryl Wixson
Adapted from a recipeby Margaret S. Fox
Servings 18 muffins

Ingredients
  

  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup strong black coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1- teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions
 

  • Assemble ingredients and tools. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease 18 muffin cups.
  • In a medium bowl or 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, oil, buttermilk, coffee, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  • Chop the walnuts and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder.
  • Stir in the chopped walnuts and chocolate chips.
  • Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry mixture, and stir quickly to just combine.
  • Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the muffin. Remove from pan and let cool on a rack. Makes 18 muffins.

Cheryl's Notes

Nutritional analysis per muffin: 309 calories, 7 grams protein, 32 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams fat, 110 mg. sodium, 3.3 grams fiber.

Get Cheryl’s next newsletter

See Previous Newsletters