Friday, August 3, 2018

Birthday Muffins

So, today was my birthday. I'm 55, and finally eligible for some senior discounts, yay. :)

We didn't do anything really special, but I had a good day, which is the whole point, right? I didn't want to make a cake that'd sit there taunting me as leftovers for a week, so I made a batch of muffins. I've made them a bunch of times, and they turned out pretty good.

They're chocolate banana chocolate chip coconut muffins. They're very dark (from all the chocolate) and don't take a great picture, but they're seriously delicious. :) They're easy to make, too.

Chocolate Banana Chocolate Chip Coconut Muffins

3 brown bananas
1/2 stick of butter or margarine
1-2 tbs butter or margarine to grease muffin pan
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup AP flour
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 bag (12 oz.) chocolate chips
1/2 bag (14 oz. bag, so 7 oz.) shredded coconut (flaked will work too)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Melt the 1/2 stick of butter. I put it in a mug, cover it with a saucer, then microwave it for one minute on 30% power. Your microwave might be different, so be careful.

Grease the muffin tin. I like using margarine; it's softer and you get a thicker layer of stuff on the muffin cups, which makes them easier to remove once they've baked and cooled. Note that you can use either the 12-medium-muffin tin or the 6-large-muffin tin; I've used both, and they work fine, even the baking time is the same.

Mash the bananas thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.

Add the melted butter or margarine, the 1/2 cup sugar, the egg, and the vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.

Add shredded coconut. Mix thoroughly.

In another mixing bowl (this one can be a bit smaller) put the 1 1/4 cup AP flour, the 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa, the salt, and the baking soda. (I sift my baking soda in a small strainer to get the lumps out of it. If you're the kind of person who thinks baking soda toothpaste makes an awesome ice cream topping, go ahead and just dump your spoonful of soda into the bowl with the flour, etc. No, seriously, there are few "Yuck!" experiences in baking like biting into a muffin and finding that there's a little rock of baking soda in it. :P ) Mix thoroughly.

Add the chocolate chips to the flour mixture. Mix thoroughly.

Dump the flour mixture into the banana mixture.

Mix carefully, with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula. The trick here is to thoroughly moisten all the dry ingredients, without over-mixing the batter. I find a folding motion, like when you're folding whipped egg whites into something, alternated with scraping the dry mixture off the sides of the bowl, works best.

Portion the batter out into the muffin tin. I like to use a disher -- one of those half-sphere ice cream scoop things, with a sweeper-arm in it -- but a regular spoon will work. Two spoons, or a spoon and a fork, will work even better. Once all the muffin cups are full, I use a fork to make sure the batter is distributed as evenly as possible.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Let the muffins cool for at least half an hour. If you used a good layer of margarine to grease the muffin tin, you should be able to get them out by hand, with a slow and gentle twisting motion. If they're stubborn, use a butter knife straight down the sides of each cup, all the way down to the bottom, then make a gentle prying motion. Do that 2-4 times in each cup, evenly spaced around the cup, depending on how stubborn the muffins are being.


Regular Banana Muffins -- use 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup sugar, and eliminate the baking cocoa, the chocolate chips and the coconut. This is basically banana bread batter; you can use it for either muffins or a loaf of banana bread. (The baking cocoa subbed for 1/4 cup of flour, and the shredded coconut is sweetened, and subs for 1/2 cup of the sugar.)

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins -- make Regular Banana Muffins, but toss a bag of chocolate chips into the flour (and mix) before combining the wet and dry ingredients.

Other Fruit Muffins -- pretty much any fruit sauce/compote will work in place of the mashed bananas. Eyeball how much "stuff" you end up with in the bowl after you mash your bananas, and use about the same amount of other fruit. Chunky applesauce works well, although the apple muffins will be a bit moister. Other fruit compote (fruit seeded/pitted/hulled/chunked as needed, and cooked down with about half a cup of sugar) makes good muffins too. I've made great strawberry, peach, plum, and bing cherry muffins this way, taking advantage of summer fruits. If you use fruit compote/sauce, use 1/2 cup sugar when you make the muffins, to allow for the 1/2 cup of sugar in the compote/sauce. I've never added coconut to fruit compote muffins; I'd probably try them with no added sugar, because the 1/2 cup of sugar in the compote, plus the sweetened coconut, would probably be plenty of sugar.

Seriously, this isn't rocket science, or rocket fuel chemistry -- play with the recipe and see what you get. :)