Creamy Dark Chocolate and Banana Muffins (and they're Whole Grain!) (Monday Muffins)
|My spouse took this photo. I think it rocks. He does, too.|
There, I'm glad I got that off my chest. My CSA farm share will be starting up next week, so I'll be sharing more and more farm share recipes in the coming months. But this is too good not to share.
I think bananas are one of nature's perfect foods. We planted a banana tree behind our home in Hawaii, and it grew fast and furious despite neglected soil. Then it flowered a gigantic flower and soon baby bananas appeared. We never ate any bananas from that tree--apparently someone else was watching the growth and development of our banana bunches as well, because once they got about big enough to harvest, the stem would disappear without a trace. I guess someone else needed them more than we did. Just like the local fauna appear to need the blueberries and peaches and strawberries in our backyard here . . . though we managed to snag 13 raspberries last year.
I love that bananas don't fully ripen until after you cut them off the tree. Not like all the basil threatening to go to seed when you're not ready to make pesto, or the zucchini growing from 4 inches to 18 inches when you turned your back to weed the tomato bed. When I get a good deal on speckled bananas, I save some on the counter for immediate use and freeze the rest.
And just how easy is it to freeze a banana? Carefully pick it up by the stem, open your freezer, and set it inside. Then carefully close the freezer--you're done! Sure, the skin turns dark brown on a frozen banana, but that same skin did a rockin' awesome job protecting the fruit inside while it was on the tree and that protection continues in your freezer. I usually set a frozen banana on the counter for 15-20 minutes before easily scraping off the peel with a paring knife. Forgetting about the banana for an hour means you can just cut off one tip and squish the banana into whatever you're preparing. Yum, that's a lovely image.
Creamy Dark Chocolate and Banana Muffins1 cup rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 large ripe banana (or 2 medium), squished
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon Penzey's Baking Spice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
In a large bowl, mix oats and buttermilk. Set aside for at least an hour, up to overnight. NOTE: If you prefer, you can combine the oats and buttermilk in glass jars in the fridge whenever you've got a minute, and use them later when you have time. I've set up 3 jars for 3 batches of muffins and used them over the course of 5 days with great results.
When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a standard 12 hole muffin pan or 24 hole mini-muffin pan with oil (or line with cupcake papers). Add squished banana, egg, vanilla, brown sugar and oil to the bowl. Mix thoroughly. Dump dry ingredients on top and mix until nearly combined, then add chocolate chips and mix until just barely combined. Scoop** batter into prepared pan. You should get 12 standard size muffins or 36 mini-muffins. Bake 15-18 minutes for standard size, 12-15 minutes for the mini-muffins. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then finish cooling on a rack.
**My scoop holds 3 Tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) by volume, though the muffin batter is mounded in the scoop so I'm pretty sure I'm putting a good 3 ½ to 4 Tablespoons into each muffin well. The muffin wells in my regular muffin pans each hold 3 ounces by volume.