My husband knows me pretty well. The other day I was going to bake a carrot cake for a coworker’s birthday and I also wanted to bake something for a picnic and Shakespeare in the park the next night. At first Joseph thought this was a great idea and then he got this look in his eye — one could call it panic — and insisted I should only make the cake. I guess you can say that my nearest and dearest all know how much I love to bake, but also what a ridiculous mess I become when I get stressed in the kitchen. That night we went to the gym, made dinner, and went to the grocery before I could get started, not to mention the fact that it was HOT and we have no AC in the kitchen. So I decided to nix the Cooks Illustrated brownies I’d been thinking about making and just make some simple banana muffins with chocolate chips for the picnic in addition to the cake. Joseph still looked concerned, but I assured him that I could practically make these muffins blindfolded as long as I had some super ripe bananas (which we did).
I’ve tried many, many banana bread recipes and this is my favorite so far. I still need to try the Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but it looks so complex and part of what I love about this recipe is how quick and easy it is. The nuts are optional, but I think it really adds to the depth of flavor as well as the texture. I like to break the pieces up fairly small so that there’s just enough subtle crunch to keep things interesting. Since these were going to be dessert-like, I also added chocolate chips. I would normally use smaller chips, but I had the Ghirardelli bittersweet chips on hand which are kind of on the big side. C’est la vie, I didn’t think anyone was going to complain about big chunks of chocolate in their muffins. Lo and behold, they were a hit and we came home empty-handed which is a very good thing because after that carrot cake, the last thing I needed was muffins in the house!
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts
Sigh. I feel that I should add that you can also add raisins, but you already know how I feel about raisins and if you ask me, you’d be ruining the muffins.
Makes 12 muffins
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 large ripe bananas (about 3 cups mashed)*
2 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)**
1/2 cup chopped almonds, walnuts, or pecans (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin or use paper liners.
- Beat oil, sugar, eggs, and mashed bananas until well blended in large bowl. You can do this in a mixer, but save yourself the mess and just do it by hand.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold into the wet ingredients being careful not to overmix. Add the vanilla and chocolate chips and nuts if using.
- Spoon into prepared tin and bake 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the tin and cool on a rack.
* We actually had a big bunch of these little tiny bananas we got at Whole Foods (Joseph was hoping they were the same as some bananas he used to get back in the Philippines, but no) and I had no idea if it would be enough. It ended up only being 2 cups, but everything worked out just fine. Just make sure that the banana is really, really ripe (i.e. black). It will yield much better flavor, not to mention it will be easier to mash.
** I never bother measuring the chocolate chips and just add until it looks like the right ratio. It is quite likely that it is usually more than half a cup 🙂