Like Laura, I love a banana muffin. And a banana bread. And a banana cream pie. And heck, even a plain ole banana. But we’re talking about muffins this week, thanks to some mysterious vibe in the ether that inspired us to make banana muffins at the same time. We tend to just check in with each other about what we’re planning on writing about in any given week, deciding who will post when-ish. Our planned posts have clashed only once, when we realized that we were both fixing to write about pasta with sausage-that felt like a little much. But we figured the more the merrier when it came to banana muffins, and having eaten them for breakfast for two weeks, I still think we’re right.
The best banana muffins I’ve ever had come, unsurprisingly, from Ina Garten. They definitely fall into the same category as Laura’s espresso and chocolate version–delicious, decadent, and maybe more treat than breakfast. I first had them at Molly’s house, when her sister (the ladies in that family are such great cooks and bakers!) made them one morning. I was blown away by how good the muffins were: sweet, cakey, full of banana flavor–they have both diced and mashed–and with a great crunch from the granola, chopped nuts, and coconut flakes that are folded in. When I went home and looked up the recipe I realized that some of the extreme tasty taste comes from the fact that the recipe calls for two cups of sugar and a half pound of butter for eighteen muffins. Ina does not mess around. I loved the muffins, and wanted to add them into my breakfast repertoire, but wanted something a little healthier. So I decided to experiment.
Successes with pumpkin muffins have shown me that you really can make a tasty muffin with less sugar and butter and more whole wheat flour, so I felt pretty confident playing around with this recipe. It doesn’t hurt that there are so many yummy add-ins, which seemed like another tastiness safety net. I did a little internet searching to gauge popular opinion on how much sugar can be cut without compromising taste, and to see if there’s any proportion trick to subbing oil in for butter (no, as it turns out). I also opted to add in some wheat germ, which my mom often does so I knew it wouldn’t impact the taste too much, and to swap unsweetened coconut for the sweetened the original recipe calls for. The end result definitely had a little more of that healthy whole wheat flavor (that I happen to like, happily, but it’s certainly different from the cakey original), but I was still really happy with the taste.
If you were making these muffins for a brunch or for overnight guests, I’d recommend going with the original recipe. You will not be disappointed, and your guests will be ready to move in. But if you’d like a (at least semi) healthier option, give my version a try. They make a great on the go weekday breakfast, and I’ve already been asked to make them again. When I do, I’ll probably continue to play with decreasing the sugar and changing the whole wheat to all-purpose flour ratio. If the changes still work, I’ll update the recipe below!
(healthier) banana crunch muffins
adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 (scant) cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2/3 (scant) cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup oil (I used extra virgin olive, but I can imagine
all sorts would be innocuous or tasty, depending on what you’re looking for)
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
1 cup small-diced walnuts
1 cup granola
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Additional granola and coconut for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line muffin cups with paper liners (the original recipe makes 18 “large” muffins, I ended up with 21 regular sized muffins). Stir together flours, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the oil and blend til smoothish (my mixture was pretty lumpy, which worried me, but it all turned out ok. You could probably get it totally smooth with a standing mixer, if you’re lucky enough to have one). Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas in a medium sized bowl, add them to the flour-and-oil mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend well. Don’t overmix.
Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each 1 to the top. Top each muffin with granola and coconut
coconut, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean (note–this was one of the few recipes I’ve done recently that actually seemed to take the time recommended. Exciting!).
Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve. Muffins will keep well for a few days in an airtight container…or for much longer individually wrapped in the freezer.