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Peanut Butter Cookie ‘n’ Brownie Bites

What could be better than a homemade peanut butter cookie or a rich chocolate brownie? Both, fused together in one sweet bite!  No one else will notice the healthy ingredient hidden in the dark side of these tempting treats.

Peanut Butter Cookie & Brownie Bites Brown sugar, honey, and (spoiler alert) carrots lend sweetness to the two-in-one bites you see here.  The results are healthier than your typical candy, yet still delicious–and, I would argue, more satisfying.   I think the flavours are great for the Halloween season, if that’s something you like to celebrate.

These dual tone bites also make a lovely, sweet afternoon snack any day of the week.  Something you can indulge in with minimal guilt.  Or you can opt to combine a classic peanut butter cookie recipe with your favourite brownie recipe to yield rich, decadent treat.  It is hard to go wrong with the taste of peanut butter and chocolate either way!
Peanut Butter Cookie & Brownie Bites

Peanut Butter Cookie 'n' Brownie Bites


For the peanut butter cookie dough

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or unsalted butter, softened
  • 5  to 6 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened fine coconut flakes
  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg (or equivalent egg replacer)

For the brownie batter

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, sunflower oil, or unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure honey or maple syrup
  • teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded carrots or peeled and shredded zucchini, packed
  • chocolate chips*, optional (for topping)


  1. Mix together 1/2 cup coconut flakes, flour, and baking soda.  Stir in peanut butter, brown sugar, egg white and vanilla until an evenly mixed dough forms.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add carrots, oil, vanilla, honey, and brown sugar.   Blend with a fork or electric mixer until a relatively smooth batter is formed.
  3. Into a greased mini muffin tin, add a spoonful of peanut butter dough to one side each cup.  Add a spoonful of brownie batter to the other side.  Top bites with chocolate chips (optional).  Bake at 350 degrees F (180 C) until middle tests done, about 14 minutes.  Let the bites cool before removing them from the cups.  Store tightly covered.  Best within 2 days, or store in the freezer for future use.

* I prefer to use ethically sourced chocolate chips.  For this recipe I used Kirkland’s Signature brand from Costco.

Join me in October for Muffin Tin Month and in sharing inspiration here.

This recipe will also appear at Fiesta Friday this week!

Peanut Butter Brownie Bites


French Toast Muffins

After trying out a batch of these French Toast Muffins from Muffin Mama, I can attest that they are as scrumptious as they look!  As part of Muffin Tin Month, Carmel is graciously sharing one of her muffin recipes, along with some gorgeous photos.  Her blog is all about what you can do with a muffin tin!  

French Toast Muffins with Two Toppings

To kick off the pumpkin season, the food world seems to be baking with orange-hued vegetables like carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes. Culinary creators are enhancing dishes with seasonal spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger.

These fall tastes bring memories of home and hearth so much so that there is no doubt about the level of comfort in the autumn-inspired muffin. Variations include pumpkin cream cheese, carrot cake, sweet potato, and honey corn.

However, when I think of Autumn and its ultimate comfort food, I think of French toast. It’s a breakfast classic. Often served with maple syrup or jelly. Sometimes finished with melted butter and salt.

My grandmother, whom I remember making breakfast in her hot pink bathrobe and slippers, would serve French toast dusted with powdered sugar. The following recipe takes me back to her. It’s a muffin that’s light and fine. Its taste is French toast. Its texture, more delicate.

French Toast Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar Both toppings below are equally delicious. The first is a cinnamon and sugar glaze, and the second combines the traditional tastes associated with French toast: drizzled maple syrup and powdered sugar. As on French toast, apply the topping by drizzling. Or, dip each muffin into a puddle of maple syrup and a mound of powdered sugar or cinnamon-sugar mixture.

For more nutritious fall muffin recipes, go to www.MuffinMama.org

French Toast Muffin with Sugar Dusting

French Toast Muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Print


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or allspice)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup dairy milk (or coconut milk* for dairy-free)
  • 1/3 cup butter or coconut oil, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Grease muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper muffin liners.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Make a well in the center of the mixture.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together egg, milk, and melted butter.
4. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; stir until just moistened (batter may be lumpy).
5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
7. Top each muffin with one of the two coatings (recipes below) and serve warm.

*Note: For dairy free muffins with coconut milk, you may need to add about 2 tablespoons more liquid, such as water.

Topping 1: Cinnamon Sugar Coating

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter or coconut oil, melted

1. In a bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar.
2. In a separate bowl, melt butter.
3. Dip tops of finished muffins in the melted butter, and then in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Topping 2: Maple Sugar Coating

  • maple syrup
  • confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) for dusting

1. With a toothpick, poke a few holes in muffin tops.
2. Spoon over a good quality maple syrup.
3. Sprinkle powdered sugar on tops.

About Carmel Bank
French Toast Muffin with Powdered Sugar ToppingWife & Mother. Founder of Muffin Mama. Obsessed with baking muffins, which bring out the kid in each of us. Background in journalism, business, linguistics and gemology. Hopes to inspire others to bake, enjoy, and think in muffin mode. Follow me on Instagram: @muffin_mama_org and Twitter: @MuffinMamaOrg

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Tuna Pizza Poppers {Gluten Free}

Forget the crust, just give me Mediterranean tuna pizza poppers for lunch!  I’m trading my pizza stone some for muffin tin magic, with protein-packed pizza bites that keep everyone full and happy.Tuna Pizza Poppers

At last, here is a long-awaited savoury muffin tin recipe!  Until now I have shared only sweet muffins for Muffin Tin Month. Except on my Muffin Tin Mania Pinterest board, which has some savoury creations from other bloggers.  There are 28 pins and counting; I invite you to follow the board on Pinterest and see if we get all the way up to 100 recipes!  You can have your recipe added too!  Just hop over to my Muffin Tin Month post and leave a comment with a link to your recipe. outside-cooling-tuna-poppers

Easy to pack and loved by kids and grownups alike, these savoury gluten-free wonders are definitely going into our lunches this fall.  Inspiration came from Aimee’s Tuna Cheddar Lunchbox Bites, but these pizza poppers can be made without cheese.  We tried them with and without cheese, and my children preferred the cheesy version.  I think they have so much flavour that they work just as well dairy-free though.  It was my first time to use nutritional yeast and I am looking forward to incorporating it into other savoury recipes.

I made two versions of tuna pizza poppers–with and without olives; all were gobbled up eagerly.  I  used a secret sauce the first time, which was actually leftover Tomato and White Bean Soup.  You can leave out the beans and just use seasoned marinara sauce to make it easier, but I liked the heft from the blended beans, especially for dairy-free ones.

These pizza poppers work well for lunchboxes and picnics.  They are full of flavour and loaded with protein to carry you and/or your kids through the afternoon. And you can easily make them ahead of time in 30-minutes or less (if your muffin tin is clean)!tuna-poppers

Tuna Pizza Poppers

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 1/3 cup grated zucchini, packed OR 1/3 cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce OR tomato and bean soup
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (or 1/2 cup Italian blend cheese if not avoiding dairy)
  • garlic salt to taste
  • Italian herb blend, to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
  • parsley flakes, for sprinkling


  1.  Beat eggs and mayonnaise together.  Add  marinara sauce or soup.  Stir in tuna, zucchini, Italian herb blend, and nutritional yeast/cheese and stir well.  Season with garlic salt to taste.  Sprinkle with parsley flakes.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (174 C).  Grease muffin tin or mini muffin tin cups well with butter or oil.  Pour in egg mixture.  Bake for 15 minutes or until pizza poppers are firm and golden.  Allow muffin tin to cool for 10 minutes before removing pizza poppers with a knife or spoon.  Serve warm or cool.

Tuna Pizza Poppers

I share my recipes here.

I’m also linking to Allergy Free Wednesdays,

Gluten Free Wednesdays, and Savoring Saturdays.


Cranberry Butter Tarts

Cranberry Butter Tarts | Swirls and SpiceGrowing up on the plains of Canada in heart of wheat country, my grandmother learned to bake with staples like wheat flour, butter, sugar and eggs.  With those simple ingredients she proved it is possible to create quite an array of baked goods, including butter tarts.  Her recipe was one of the only butter tart versions I have come across that leaves out syrup of any kind (usually they call for corn syrup or maple syrup).

In her original recipe, soaked dried currants were one of the ingredients; I replaced them with fresh cranberries.  I appreciate the pop of colour and tartness that cranberries add, which balances out the sweetness of the sugary filling.  Otherwise the recipe below reflects my grandmother’s baking expertise and simplicity.  (However I am not a person who is inclined to follow a recipe exactly, so I have noted a few modifications in parentheses.)

Cranberry Butter Tarts

My grandma was sparing with her instructions, but I found that when she was specific, it was important for getting good results.  With this recipe I had to make sure I followed her technique of chilling the filling before adding it to the tart shells.  Also important was using just one tablespoon of filling per tart; when I added too much, the filling rose up and overflowed during baking.  Again I was reminded that heeding her advice is almost always the best route to take–and not just with baking.

Although I wish I could have seen exactly how she made her tarts, I am exceedingly thankful that I have a number of her recipes preserved in two cookbooks–one put together by my aunt and another by her church.  Each time I read a recipe of hers or make something that she made, I miss my grandma.  And as I recall her kind countenance and contentment in the kitchen, I am challenged and inspired.

Cranberry Butter Tarts

Cranberry Butter Tarts: An Heirloom Recipe

  • Servings: 12 muffin-sized tarts
  • Print
Ingredients:Cranberry Butter Tarts

  • 3/4 cup cold butter (originally part shortening, part butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • cold water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (originally 1 tablespoon)
  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries, each cut in half


  1.  To make the crust for the tarts, use a pastry blender or your fingers to combine the cold butter, flour, and salt, until a crumbly mixture forms.  Add cold water gradually, until a dough starts to hold together.  Wrap and chill dough for 10 minutes.
  2.  Roll out dough on a floured surface and cut into circles to fit muffin tin cups.  Shape the crust into the muffin tin cups and place the prepared crusts in the freezer or refrigerator.
  3.  To make the filling, beat eggs with a fork or whisk.  Add in brown sugar and butter and blend with a fork or whisk until smooth.  Refrigerate the filling for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).  Take the chilled crusts and fill each one with a layer of cut cranberries.  Then add one tablespoon of the filling mixture to each tart shell.
  5.  Bake tarts for 12 to 15 minutes, until crusts and filling are golden.  The filling expands during baking and will sink somewhat after cooling.  Serve tarts at room temperature.  Tarts freeze well.  Thaw completely prior to serving.

I share recipes and find inspiration here.


Cranberry Date Tartlets {Gluten Free}

Cranberry Date Tartlets {Gluten Free}No pumpkins were harmed in the making of these tarts.  Nevertheless, the warm flavours of fall shine through in healthy, date-sweetened treats.  But these cranberry date tartlets are not just for health nuts.  Finicky eaters might notice that the crust is unusual, but oddly enough, my normally skeptical children gave them a big thumbs up!

The rich, sweet flavour made my mouth glad to eat more, and my body seemed to tell me to “eat this, not that.”  “That” would be super sweet desserts that are made with white flour and refined sugar.  It’s so nice to feel better, not worse, after indulging in something sweet!

Cranberry Date Tartlets {Gluten Free} | Swirls and Spice

Cranberry Date Tartlets


For the filling

  • 10 dates
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk beverage, almond milk, or water
  • 2 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (omit for vegan version)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

For the lentil chia crust

  • 1/2 cup red split lentils
  • 2 teaspoons pure honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 Tablespoons ground chia seeds
  • 5 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/8 ground cardamom


  1.  To make the filling, pour boiling hot coconut milk or other liquid over dates and cover for 10 minutes to soak.
  2.  Add melted coconut oil and vanilla and blend in food processor or blender until relatively smooth.  Add in egg and blend briefly to combine.
  3.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add lentils.  Turn heat down to simmer, and cook until very soft, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and mash lentils until they are the consistency of applesauce, draining excess liquid if necessary.  Measure out 1 cup of mashed lentils, reserving excess for another use (such as soup). In a medium bowl, stir together lentils, honey, baking soda, salt, and ground chia seed.  Let sit for several minutes before adding the coconut oil and remaining dry ingredients.  Stir ingredients together to form a dough and knead until well mixed.  Chill for 10 minutes.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 C).
  4. Roll out dough on a mat or parchment paper to form a thin crust (about the thickness of a tortilla).  Cut into circles to fit into a mini muffin tin (or larger circles for a full size muffin tin).  Bake empty crusts for 7 minutes.  Remove from the oven.
  5. Fill tartlet crusts with a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of chopped cranberries.  Pour filling over cranberries.  Bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, until filling is set and crust is golden.  Let cool before removing from the muffin tin.  Serve tartlets at room temperature.  Tartlets will also freeze well and can be thawed prior to serving.

This recipe is part of Muffin Tin Month, and may also be shared here,

at Savoring Saturdays, Allergy Free Wednesdays, and Gluten Free Wednesdays.


Cranberry Lemon Muffins

Cranberry Lemon Muffins | Swirls and SpiceLemon and fresh cranberries pair beautifully to create tender, tart-and-sweet muffins that are just as fitting for breakfast as they are for the dinner table.   These quick-to-disappear muffins are something I want to make for Thanksgiving too, which is coming very soon here in Canada.  Then I plan to make them again for American Thanksgiving in November.  Another batch or two will be gobbled down in between the two occasions.  They are that good!

Cranberry Lemon Muffins | Swirls and Spice

Cranberry Lemon Muffins

  • Servings: about 16 muffins
  • Print


  • 2 cups spelt flour or unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup oat bran or oat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or oil
  • 2/3 cup pure honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons lemon juice (juice from 1 large lemon)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cranberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, and ginger.  Combine sugar and berries in a separate bowl and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream together softened butter or oil and honey.  Beat in eggs until smooth.  Add lemon juice and water and stir until well combined.
  3. Add dry ingredient mixture to wet mixture and stir to form an even batter.  Fold in sugar coated berries and sugar.
  4. Line muffin cups with muffin liners or grease muffin tin cups.  Pour in batter.
  5. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until middle of muffins tests done.  Cool slightly and remove muffins from tin.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

This recipe is part of Muffin Tin Month, and may also be shared here.


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