Vegan Mocha-Almond Muffins

Makes 10 / With a candle on top, these make a great birthday-morning mini-cake. For extra flavor and fiber, add a cup of grated carrots, mashed banana, or whole raspberries.

1-1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup strong coffee, lukewarm
1/3 cup brown-rice syrup or pure maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare muffin tins with cooking spray or paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, mix coffee, syrup, oil, vinegar, and almond extract. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until completely blended. Add chocolate chips, if desired.

3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. Top with almonds. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are raised and spring back when touched. Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.