Sooooooo behind on blogging!!!
Well, let's begin with my new obsession: banana muffins. Many people don't realize this, but citrus fruits and tropical fruits are actually at their peek for us in the US and Canada (and Europe and basically north of the equator) during the winter months; most of these tropical fruits, citrus grow closer to the equator and in the southern hemisphere, so when it's our winter it's their summer. Anyways, bananas actually taste their best for us here in the northern half of the world from December to March, with their peek being in January and February. Often you'll find more bananas and citrus being brought into your local grocer as well -- oranges, mandarins, all manner of citrus fruits, kiwis become cheaper, an abundance of mangoes and of course, bananas! Take advantage and pick up two bundles next time you visit the store -- one to snack on and one to make desserts with!
I love muffins, and one of my all-time favorites is a good banana nut muffin. I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to the perfect banana muffin: it must be well balanced -- not too sweet, not too heavily spiced; the nuts need to be present but not clumsy; and above all, the banana flavor needs to shine through. I actually had the displeasure once of talking to someone who swore to me the best banana muffin they ever made was involving banana flavoring -- as in extract. And I wanted to punch this person in the face. The first rule of a good banana muffin or bread is to use fresh effing bananas! You will never be able to replace that good, natural flavor. So if you're going to make this, use the damn real live bananas!
So what sets my version apart? Two things: lots of fresh bananas and chocolate chips. Yes, I said chocolate chips. Why? Because it tastes amazing. Make these for your next breakfast brunch. Bring them to your next church function. Bake off a fresh batch for your house guests visiting over the holidays and serve them warm with a mug of hot coffee. These are so simple to make, taste incredible, and will be just what you were in the mood for in this holiday cold weather. Enjoy them!
Mishy's Favorite Chocolate Banana Muffins
3 large (4 smaller) ripe bananas*
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 Tbsp good vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
good pinch of fine salt (about 1/2 tsp -3/4 tsp)
3/4 cup - 1 cup chocolate chips (milk chocolate is my favorite)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin or cupcake tin with paper liners.
Peel the bananas and place in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer fitted with the beater attachments, begin to beat the bananas on med-low speed until broken up and nicely pureed. Add the sugars, vanilla, egg, and butter and mix until just combined. Next add the flour a little at a time, and the baking soda, powder, and salt and mix on low speed until well combined and a nice batter is formed. Add the chocolate chips and using a spatula, fold them in. If you beat them with the mixer you'll break up the chocolate chips too much.
Scoop the batter into the lined tins and fill pretty close up to the top. Bake in oven for about 15-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove and serve warm or at room temperature.
Can be kept at room temperature for up to a week (but they won't last that long!).
*The degree of ripeness is very important. If they're green, they're not ripe. If they're yellow with a slight ting of green, they're great to snack on. If they're all yellow, they're perfect to give to kids. If they're a deep yellow and start to have brown spots like a giraffe -- now you're ready to bake with them. If the skin is all brown, you're ready to make baby food.