Smoky Chocolate & Bran Muffins

Some recipes come to bakers like a flash of lightning, other recipes are inspired by great ingredients and then there is the third category which is a bit weird… You get this idea, or really only half an idea. And then it takes months and sometimes even a year before the other half comes to you.

The recipe for these smoky chocolate & bran muffins definitely falls into the third category of recipe development!

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may know that I have a super sentimental soft spot for muffins because my Mom made them for us when we were kids. And her bran muffins were just to die for…

But on the other hand, a decadent breakfast muffin REALLY gets me excited to leap out of bed I the morning.

Problem is that most decadent muffins tend to basically be CAKE though, right? By this I mean that they have ZERO fibre and contain heaps of sugar. This is not a good start to anyone’s day… you’ll be paying back later, if you know what I mean 😉

So yes, I have a very firm stance on including fruit and fibre into every single one of my muffin recipes. And equally important is the element of decadence and absolute, overall YUMness!

Either “healthy” OR “decadent” is just an unnecessary myth. It’s completely possible to incorporate BOTH.

Smoky Chocolate & Bran Muffins! Super moist buttermilk & molasses bran muffin with a chocolate custard center and a dash of smoked paprika - YUM!!

Recipe Development

I’ve experimented with heaps of different muffins, but my favourite to date is still the Philosophy of Yum take on the Pumpkin & Cream Cheese muffin. What’s so rad about this muffin is that it has a cream cheese custard-like filling that is just divine!

I have a secret to share with you though… that creamy filling is actually my Home Bakery’s signature Vanilla Frosting! Now I know you may be thinking: Frosting = sweet, but that’s not the case because my vanilla frosting is completely unique. It packs heaps of flavour, but 75% less sugar than traditional frosting.

So what started out as an opportunity to use my left over frosting, became the most popular muffin in my Home Bakery!

There’s also a chocolate version of my ultimate frosting recipe, so I’ve been thinking about also using it as a filling in a muffin – as I do with Pumpkin & Cream Cheese Muffins.

Every bakery kind of also HAS to have a chocolate muffin and it’s been nagging me for quite a while. I couldn’t, however, just make an over sized chocolate cupcake and call it a muffin though – as I said, breakfast needs to include fibre just as much as it needs to include epic flavour.

What’s so amazing about combining chocolate & bran in muffins is the depth of flavour you achieve. They seriously compliment each other SO WELL!

The base recipe of Smoky Chocolate & Bran Muffins is my Ultimate Bran Muffin recipe. It’s made with buttermilk and molasses so the muffins are soft, moist and have a rich, earthy caramel flavour.

You my notice that there’s no egg in this recipe. Honestly, I just forgot the egg. But the mashed banana functions a bit like egg in the recipe so that’s why the texture was still perfectly fluffy and awesome.

Also, don’t worry at all about tasting the banana. It blends in completely and you don’t taste it at all!

The creamy chocolate custard-like filling is of course my chocolate frosting recipe (frozen overnight). To add some extra chocolaty goodness, I drizzled some Dark Chocolate Ganache over the top and then comes the curveball…

Smoked Paprika.

Yep, I know it might sound bizarre and a bit crazy – but it WORKS!

It’s not hot or spicy at all! Promise. I’m such a pansy when it comes to hot food, so you are totally safe. All the smoked paprika does is to add a smoky flavour and of course that gorgeous pop of colour!

smoky chocolate & bran muffins - absolutely sensational flavour! You've never had a muffin like this before!

If you are, however, into hot & spicy food, you can sprinkle some dried chili flakes
on top as well. Chili and chocolate pair together great as well, so go for it!

These Smoky Chocolate & Bran Muffins are super moist, soft and deeeeply flavourful! Buttermilk, molasses bran muffins with a dark chocolate & cream cheese custard-like center and a hint of smoked paprika. SO GOOD!!

So here’s my weird, but SUPER delicious recipe for Smoky Chocolate & Bran Muffins 🙂

Smoky Chocolate & Bran Muffins
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12
  • 30 g Whipping Cream with ½ tsp Granulated Sugar
  • 40 g Dark Chocolate (at least 65% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 80 g Cold Whipping Cream, ±35% fat
  • 200 g Cold Medium Fat Cream Cheese (smooth, non-aerated) ±25% fat
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 70 g Pure Icing Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder (Good quality)
  • Cold Water
  • 125 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 60 g Granulated White Sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 t Vanilla Extract
  • 90 g sweet molasses
  • 1 ripe banana (90 g flesh), mashed
  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ Tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup bran (47 g)
  • 60 g Dark Chocolate (at least 65% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 60 g Whipping Cream, ±35% fat with ½ tsp Granulated Sugar
  • Smoked Paprika
  1. First make some chocolate ganache. Place chopped chocolate in a ceramic or glass bowl.
  2. Place 30 g cream and ½ tsp sugar in a saucepan and heat till simmering. Add hot cream to chopped dark chocolate. Stir well until fully combined and glossy. Transfer to the fridge to cool down for about 5 minutes.
  3. Next make the frosting. Whip cold cream to stiff peaks with an electric hand mixer in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Beat in cold Cream Cheese till smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat again till smooth and thickened. About 1 minute.
  5. Beat in Vanilla and icing sugar. Leave to stand for 2 minutes to that sugar can melt into the cream cheese.
  6. Beat again till smooth and thick – about 1 minute. Rub a bit of the frosting between your fingers to make sure all the sugar is dissolved. If it is not fully dissolved, leave to stand for another minute, beat it and then test it again.
  7. Sift the cocoa powder into the mixture and beat to combine. Beat in the cooled chocolate ganache till the frosting is uniform in colour.
  8. Freeze the chocolate filling overnight.
  1. The next day, make the muffins. Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F.
  2. Lightly spray the top surface of a muffin tin. Line 12 holes of the muffin tin with muffin liners/wrappers.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the buttermilk, vanilla, mashed banana and molasses. At this point the mixture might look a bit curdled and messy, it’s completely normal.
  5. Get a separate, large bowl. Sift together flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt. Stir in the bran.
  6. Make a well in the centre of you dry ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the well. Stir the batter with a metal spoon until it is just combined (the batter will be slightly lumpy.)
  7. Divide the batter evenly into the 12 lined muffin holes. Spoon roughly 30 g of the Frozen Chocolate Filling into the center of each muffin and smooth out the batter so it completely covers the filling.
  8. Bake the muffins in the center of the oven ON THE REGULAT BAKE SETTING for 20 - 25 minutes, or until a skewer tests clean. Leave to cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes.
  9. Place the muffins on a rack and let them cool for 15 minutes more.
  1. Place chopped chocolate in a ceramic or glass bowl.
  2. Place 30 g cream and ½ tsp sugar in a saucepan and heat till simmering. Add hot cream to chopped dark chocolate. Stir well until fully combined and glossy.
  3. Drizzle generously over the cooled muffins.
  4. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with smoked paprika. Enjoy!!


I have some more amazing muffin recipes if you want to check them out:

Pear, Apple & Bluebrery
Apple, Date & Pecan
Pumpkin & Cream Cheese
Cranberry & Coconut
Ultimate Bran

If you give this recipe a go, tag me on facebook, twitter or instagram @philosophyofyum because I would LOVE to see!

Chat soon

Aurelia 🙂

Hi! I’m Aurelia 🙂

I’m a Self-Taught, Full-Time
Home Baker in Cape Town, RSA.
bake better and start their
own Home Bakeries


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