When I told Jessica that my next post was going to be about banana muffins, she excitedly responded that her next post was also about banana muffins. She said that maybe this should be Banana Muffin Week on butter poached. I loved that idea. What’s better than a banana muffin recipe? Two banana muffin recipes! One of the best things about banana muffins is how many unique, delicious ways they can come to the party. Based on the world’s overwhelming number of variations on banana breads, muffins, and cakes, I knew it was likely that we’d made two very different treats, and sure enough, we did. Here are the banana muffins that have been on my mind. Jessica will share hers later this week.
I first made these muffins a couple of years ago, shortly after I got my copy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. The book had taken blogs by storm and I was dying to have my own copy. I just about jumped for joy when I found a deeply discounted version on a back shelf at Williams-Sonoma. I was really intrigued by some of the complicated Baked cakes and tarts that I had seen around the Internet, but I knew the first recipe I tried would be from the breakfast chapter. I believe a baking cookbook can be judged on its muffins alone. There are no advanced techniques to get in the way of a good muffin recipe, so it’s all about the ingredients and proportions. A good baking cookbook will yield at least one classic, bakery shop muffin. An amazing baking cookbook will yield at least one category-defying, worldview-shifting, breadbasket-blowing muffin. That’s what we have here.
I keep referring to these treats as muffins, but they are right on the brink of being cupcakes. The texture leans toward the muffin side of the line: dense, thick, and moist with banana. But the richness of the chocolate and butter, both present in ample quantities, pulls strongly toward the cupcake side. These are much sweeter than a typical muffin, jacked up on three sources of sugar, if you count the super ripe banana. In fact, more than once last week, I had a sugar crash around 8:30 a.m.—strong evidence that I ate a cupcake for breakfast. Even their appearance (flat-topped and rather unphotogenic) calls out for icing or other cupcakey embellishment. Icing them would be a mistake, though, and that’s how I know these aren’t cupcakes. The flavors are so varied and deep that adding anything—even a shake of powdered sugar—would take away from the perfection of the treat. Everyone knows that a cupcake is nothing without icing, so these must be muffins.
Whatever they’re called, they’re among my favorite banana cake-type treats. I appreciate a straight-forward, simple banana loaf, but sometimes I want more. In the same way that I’ll ditch a vanilla cone for a Heath Bar-fudge Blizzard, I’ll turn to these when I want a really special baked banana treat (bonus: they take barely more effort than plain banana muffins). Every bite has so much flavor…and chocolate. I love to eat these in the morning because the espresso and chocolate are perfect with a cup of coffee. They are an indulgent way to start the day, but they’re more virtuous than a doughnut or a sticky bun (I think). I’ve eaten them many times for dessert, too, which avoids the problem of having a sugar crash before 9 a.m. They are remarkably moist and keep very well at room temperature for an unusually long time, at least three days, as long as they are in an airtight container.
banana espresso chocolate chip muffins
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
makes 12 muffins
4 or 5 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (NOT ground espresso)
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Adjust oven rack to the center position. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray or insert paper liners into each cup.
Mash bananas with a potato masher or fork until lumpy-smooth. You should have 1.5 cups of mashed banana.
In a medium bowl, use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir bananas, both sugars, melted butter, milk, and egg until combined.
In a separate large bowl, whisk the flour, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the banana mixture. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
Divide the batter evenly among the cups in the muffin tin.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness starting at 20 minutes using a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. When the toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are done.
Let the muffins cool in the tin on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Remove the muffins from the tin and allow to cool completely on rack.
Store muffins at room temperature in an airtight container for two to three days.