This recipe started out with mushy, brown, "fragrant" bananas on my counter. Staring me down in the way that overly ripe food does... implying guilt with every pass. "Save me, save me," is the subtitle in their pungent scent. My internal subtitle says, "get it together, Christine... don't you dare toss those bananas into the purgatory that is your freezer... until you throw them out as freezer burned shadows of what they could have been."
I started to think about the banana chocolate chip muffins that my mom used to make and then we used to make as kids. The recipe was so simple and there was very little better than tearing open that creamy muffiny goodness studded with semi sweet chocolate surprises.
Typically, I have the full gamut of options in my baking cupboard. Several different dried fruits, various chocolate chips and chunks, nuts, coconut and so on. Well, it looks as though my store has been pillaged. No standard dark chocolate chunks or chips here! I remember being quite concerted about using up several items but didn't realize that effort would stand between me and my perfect banana chocolate chip muffins now.
Regroup. Reassess. What did I have? I had a giant bag of pecan halfs, another of dried cranberries, smaller bags of peanuts, butterscotch chips, mint chips, white chocolate slabs and chunks... I grabbed the pecans and white chocolate chunks and got back on track.
Tea and a warm banana, pecan and white chocolate muffin
*Adapted from the Joy of Cooking*
1 3/4 flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 ripe ripe ripe bananas
1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped
1/2 cup white chocolate chunks
Pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
This recipe was such a fantastic launching pad that I had to begin here. You have appreciate the good basic starting points that are offered in the Joy of Cooking... then tweak to your own particular taste and cooking style.
In a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and spices). I added a scant pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg to add a sort of coffee cake-esque feel to these muffins. Mix together with a fork (to add a bit of air as well).
In a small bowl, add your butter and microwave quickly to melt it (just enough to melt it without heating it up too much... 10-15 seconds). As long as your bowl isn't too hot, add your eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix everything together. Add in your bananas and mush it with the back of your fork.
Chop up your pecans... or leave them whole (whole halves... that's kinda funny).
Now, add your wet ingredients to your bowl of dry ingredients. Toss in pecans and chocolate chunks, then mix everything together. You want to mix it together quickly and without mixing-mixing-mixing. You don't want the gluten in the flour to activate and make your muffins tough and chewy. Lumps are ok... pockets of flour are not ideal. But, really, don't think about it too much. Just combine your ingredients as quickly and with as few strokes as possible.
Spoon the muffin batter into a lined muffin tin (or greased, if you don't want to use any liners). I use a 1/3 cup measure to keep everything generally even. (I get 12 decent sized standard muffins out of this recipe.)
Bake in a 400 F oven for 20 minutes (I check at 18 minutes). Insert a toothpick into one muffin and if it comes out clean, then you are set. Crumbs may adhere to the toothpick, as the bananas make the muffins very moist and tender. The key is that the crumbs look fully baked, as opposed to gooey. (hahah... I am not very technical!)
Remove from the oven and let cool as long as you can manage. If you can't manage very long, then just watch out for those chocolate chunks, which become little lava pockets in that heat.
These are best warmed and do well with a quick zap in the microwave or toaster oven on day two or three.