Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When in doubt, ALWAYS make muffins! Espresso Banana Muffins

Well, it's September, and Los Angeles is a momentary inferno, but this weekend it finally cooled down enough in our sweltering apartment for me to use the overripe bananas badly aging on our countertop to bake something delicious to serve to friends. And since I am in unabashedly in love with muffins, here we go.

Heidi Swanson's beautiful cookbook, Super Natural Cooking, was the inspiration for this week's recipe. I've been really interested in trying to create meals using whole & natural ingredients and most of the knowledge and expertise comes from Heidi's amazing blog, 101 Cookbooks and her other cookbook, Super Natural Everyday.

Super Natural Cooking, is chocked full of really inventive ways to add whole and natural ingredients into your pantry, so when you reach for ingredients to cook with you are starting with foods that are healthier and kinder to your body. I haven't been able to incorporate everything quite yet, whole and natural foods tend to be quite expensive to just cold turkey and completely restock at once. Every trip to the grocery store I buy one additional ingredient from her list. It makes switching affordable and easy.

Espresso Banana Muffins (with slight tweaks), from Super Natural Cooking

2 cups white whole-wheat flour (I used regular whole-wheat flour)
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (I used regular kosher sea salt)
1 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts (She recommends toasting them first, but I just used them chopped)
1 tablespoon fine espresso powder (I used regular ground coffee that I made fine with a grinder)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (Room temp really helps it to cream easier)
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt (I used low fat vanilla yogurt)
1 1/2 cups mashed overripe bananas (The more overripe, the better. About 3 bananas)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees, position the racks low in the oven, and line 12 muffins cups with paper liners (I don't use liners, so I just dabbed each cup with a little canola oil before putting the batter in).

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, 3/4 cup of the walnuts (toasted first if you so choose), and the espresso powder in a bowl and whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl or a stand mixer (I used my KitchenAid), cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and then the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla, yogurt, and mashed bananas, then briefly and gently mix in the dry ingredients; over mixing will result in tough muffins.

Spoon into the prepared muffin tin, top with the remaining 1/2 cup of walnuts, and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Fill the cups to the brim for big-topped muffins. Cool in the tin for five minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 large muffins.

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