Monkey Muffins

100_0124.jpgWhole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins, topped with caramelized banana chunks
This is my idea of the perfect kid snack with a little rustic-gourmet flare. Apart from the sugar in the chips, they’re not too sweet and they still feel wholesome. This recipe has been tested, loved, nurtured and refined many times. The result is near perfection.

2 cups flour (see Flour notes below)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 bananas
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
3/4 – 1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
TOPPING (optional)
2 bananas, chopped

  1. Place oven rack at position “C” (3rd from the bottom) and preheat to 375 degrees. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Spin DRY ingredients in food processor and pour into large mixing bowl. Stir in the EXTRAS.
  3. Spin bananas in food processor until smooth. Add the remaining WET ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir just until blended.
  4. Scoop into muffin cups (cups should be full) and set aside.
  5. Chop 2 bananas (quarter lengthwise, then slice). Carefully place a spoonful of the chopped bananas onto the tops of the muffins, pressing them into the batter slightly and keeping them toward the center. Sprinkle each with sugar, about 1/2-1 teaspoon per muffin.
  6. Bake 18-20 minutes. Muffins are done when the tops are an even light golden-brown color. Turn muffins onto their sides to prevent soggy bottoms and cool for 5 minutes.

YIELD 10 standard size muffins
PREP TIME 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME 40 minutes

Different combinations of flour can be used, totaling 2 cups. For freshly-milled whole wheat (which can give the muffins a “scratchy” or grainy feel) use no more than 1 cup, with the balance being AP or bread flour. (Store bought whole wheat flour is more finely milled and eliminates the need for AP flour.) Replacing 1/4 cup of AP flour with gluten flour can prevent overly dense muffins and add protein.
Here’s how it should look when using freshly milled whole wheat flour:
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup AP or bread flour
1/4 cup gluten flour

Wet Ingredients
Always bake with purified water.
This recipe does create a thick batter. However, if, after adding the wet ingredients to the dry, the batter feels a little too close to cookie dough, water can be added a couple tablespoons at a time.

Adding the EXTRAS to the flour mixture first serves to coat them and helps to prevent sinking.
Most brands of chocolate chips are made to hold their shape after baking and many also have a bad “chocolate candy” taste. Higher quality chips melt better and compliment the healthy, natural flavors of the muffin by not tasting artificial and overly sweet. Many high quality chips are larger in size, which doesn’t work as well with this muffin. Mini chips are too small and ruin the banana to chocolate ratio. Medium size, high quality, semi sweet chips are ideal.
Nuts are best chopped by hand to ensure evenness in size. Food processors and food choppers can cause somewhat of a “nut-meal” mixed in with nut pieces.

Use a 1/3 to 1/2-cup measuring cup to scoop the batter into the muffin tin. (1/3 is the more accurate amount needed, but the 1/2 cup is quicker since the right amount tends to fall out and scraping it is not needed.) Since these muffins don’t rise as high as regular cake muffins, filling the cups until they’re level results in a nice size muffin top.
Pan may need to be rotated 90 degrees halfway through cooking to allow for even baking.

Store up to 2 days in an airtight container Without the caramelized banana chunks on top they store for up to 4 days.

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