Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ever since I was a little kid, my mom has been making these muffins from an old muffin recipe book (who’s name escapes me at the moment). They are far and away my favourite muffins on the planet, and every time I took them somewhere when I was little, at least one person would ask for the recipe.

They’re pretty easy to customize and change up with a little imagination, I like replacing the banana with mashed sweet potato, the white sugar with brown, halving the nutmeg and adding a teaspoon or so of cinnamon!

1/2 c butter, room temperature

1/2 c white sugar

1 egg

1 c mashed banana (about two medium bananas)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp hot water

1 1/2 c flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup chocolate chips (more or less to taste)

 

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter with an electric mixer:

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Dissolve your baking soda in the hot water and add to the bowl along with the bananas and egg. Feel free to throw some vanilla in there too if you’d like!

I hate bananas that have brown spost on them. Seriously, the second a banana has a spot on it, it is inedible as far as I’m concerned. When they get to that point, I peel them, break them into chunks and freeze them in muffin-batch-sized portions in freezer bags. Then when I want to make muffins I can just pull them out of the freezer and let them thaw before adding them to the mix. I’m not going to lie – defrosted bananas look super icky but they make for moist muffins so it’s worth it!

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If you use fresh bananas, you’ll have to mash them before blending everything together with the electric hand mixer, otherwise just blend it all up with the hand mixer. Once the wet ingredients are blended, take another large bowl and whisk together your flour (I doubled this recipe and used 1 cup whole wheat and 2 cups unbleached), nutmeg, salt and chocolate chips. Then tilt the whole thing into your wet ingredient bowl and fold together until just combined. Be super careful not to over mix or you’ll end up with tough muffins.

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Pre-heat your oven to 375F (or if your oven is the ninth circle of hell like mine, 350F) and spray your muffin tins with cooking spray or line them with paper liners. Divide your batter evenly amongst your tins, this recipe makes 10-12 depending on how much you fill each tin.

Tip from mom: use an icecream scoop to portion out the batter…perfect amount every time! You can even get mini icecream scoops/melon ballers for mini muffins.

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Bake for twenty-ish minutes or until a toothpick/cake tester/bbq skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (try to avoid the chocolate chips, that doesn’t count as not coming out clean! Just pick a different muffin and try again. Let them cool in the tin for five minutes or so, until you can handle them and then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

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– J.

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Pretzel Buns!

You’re getting a two-for-one today! Pretzel buns and my smokey burgers with lattice bacon & “Donkey Sauce”. Yes you read that right….LATTICE BACON!

Pretzel Buns:

2T active dry yeast

2c warm water (110-115F…like a warm bath)

5.5c unbleached flour

2T granulated sugar

1t table salt

vegetable oil

cooking spray

1/3c baking soda

kosher salt

Once again, if you don’t have a stand mixer, use a big bowl and a wooden spoon 🙂

Pour the warm water into the stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast and sugar evenly over the top, stirring to dissolve. Set aside to bloom for 8-10 minutes.

In a large bowl, blend your flour and table salt. Once the yeast has bloomed and is all foamy and disgusting, dump the flour/salt mixture in and turn the mixer on LOW. Now the original recipe says to knead in the mixer for eight minutes but my mixer was having none of that…as the dough started coming together and I turned the  mixer up to medium, the big dough ball just wacked angrily from one side of the bowl to another and actually made my mixer skid along the counter a couple inches. Plan B:

Once the dough comes together and is handle-able (a word? I doubt it, but it works), dump in out onto your counter and knead by hand until the dough is elasticky (again, is that a word?). When you tug on it, it should stretch before it tears.

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Oil a large bowl with the vegetable oil and put your dough into it, pouring a bit of oil over the dough and turning it to coat. Once the dough is nicely coated with oil, cover with plastic wrap, leaving a few gaps and a clean, damp kitchen towel; then leave it somewhere warm to rise for about half an hour (again, I recommend the oven with the light on). It should double in size.

Once the dough has risen, punch (literally) it down before turning it out onto your floured countertop (messy!). Knead the dough for a minute or so until it springs back if you poke at it; then divide into eight equal-ish portions and form into bun-like shapes.

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Cut a couple slashes into the top of the buns. I decided they looked kind of ugly with just the slashes, I think next time I’ll cut an X into the top. Anyways…put your buns onto tinfoil (or a silpat) covered & well greased cookie sheets, lightly cover with plastic wrap and let rise twenty minutes, until doubled in size. I found that the Alcan brand “SLIDE” tinfoil was the best versus regular tinfoil; I didn’t try my Silpat this time.

While your buns are rising again, bring eight cups of water to a boil on your stovetop in a large pot and preheat your oven to 425F. When boiling, slowly add the baking soda (it bubbles like mad and will make a hell of a mess if you’re not careful!). Carefully drop two of the now risen buns into the boiling water and poach on each side for about a minute. Remove with a slotted spoon, allowing excess water to drain off, and put back on your tray. Repeat with the remaning buns, two at a time.

About a thirty seconds to a minute after you pull the buns out of the water, sprinkle them with kosher salt. They should be damp but not sopping, otherwise the salt will dissolve rather than stick. They look like a disgusting mess when you pull them out of the water (I was totally having doubts at this point, but I persevered). Pop them into the oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until golden brown.

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They actually turned out! Can’t wait to try them with the burgers.

One little piece of advice when making buns; less is more on your baking sheet. Spread the buns out further than you think you’d need to, otherwise you’ll end up with something that looks like my first foray into bun baking something I like to call the “Pangaea Bun”: http://instagram.com/p/WaWk5hD7tS/

Smokey burgers with Donkey Sauce and lattice bacon to come (once I actually finish making them!)

– J.

Original recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/guy-fieri/pretzel-rolls-recipe/index.html