Back to School with Bite-Size Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins...Traditional and Gluten-Free.September
September 4, 2017
I love summer, but no matter my age, I will find September exciting. There is something about new shoes, fresh notebooks, and learning that get me really worked up. Whether you share my enthusiasm for beginnings or not, the start of the new school year is a time that we all want to hear about our childrens' new teachers, classmates, schedules, and activities. What better way to get them to talk then to have a plate of these delicious muffins waiting on the counter when they get home? Throw in your questions between bites and they won't even notice. For me: it's full-proof! September is also a time for good habits. When it comes to treats, these are pretty healthful but will still disappear. I have also included a gluten-free version.
Always use unsalted butter. You can tell whether it is fresh (the salt can camouflage the taste) and you can control the amount of salt that you add to the recipe.
All ingredients should be as close to room temperature as possible. This ensures proper mixing.
Use care in measuring. Baking is science before it is art.
Dry ingredients should be measured in dry measuring cups by spooning flour, etc into the desired cup and leveling with a knife.
Wet ingredients should be measured in a liquid measuring cup to bottom of meniscus (the half-moon curve that the top of the liquid makes.)
Be careful not to overmix!!Mix sparingly or fold when adding the dry ingredients. A few lumps are ok.
Rotate your pans half-way through baking time to ensure even baking.
Be careful not to overbake!! I always set the timer for a few minutes less than the lowest recommended time, and test for doneness, adding more time as necessary.
Check for doneness by inserting a skewer in muffins or quick-breads or feeling the top,which should bounce back when pressed.
These muffins freeze beautifully. Thaw at room temperature and enjoy when defrosted.
Optional Stir-Ins for this Muffin Batter:
Cooked grain, up to 1 cup
Banana Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins
adapted from The Silver Palate Banana Bread
8 T unsalted butter plus additional for greasing the pans, at room temperature
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
3-4 large ripe bananas, mashed (more bananas makes for a more custardy muffin)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12-ounce bag (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350^F. Grease two large mini-muffin tins. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. While the butter is creaming, in a medium bowl, stir together flours, soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mash bananas with a fork, and add vanilla to the mashed bananas. Once the butter and sugar are light and creamy, add the eggs, one at a time and beat well between additions. Fold in the banana mixture followed by the flour and finally, the chocolate chips. Do not over mix! Drop by tablespoons into the prepared tins, filling each cup no more than 2/3 full.. Bake 15-18 min, or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on the rack for 10 min, then turn out. Makes 3 //12 to 4 dozen mini muffins.
My go-to gluten-free bakers (You know who you are! Thanks for all of the great tips, girls!) swear by Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Multipurpose Flour. Developed by chefs at Thomas Keller's French Laundry, the package promises that you can "seamlessly make your favorite recipes gluten-free with the same great taste, texture and performance you expect from traditional flour" by literally substituting substituting cup-for-cup. I tested it for myself and the results were amazing! I made a few other homemade versions of gluten-free muffins for comparison and not one of them stood up to the Cup4Cup batch. How unusual when the simplest procedure yields the most delicious results! Thank you French Laundry for making my job a lot easier.
I try not to endorse particular ingredients but since you can now order this amazing product from Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Williams Sonoma On-line and purchase it in William Sonoma stores, I feel ok about it. To make the Banana Muffins gluten-free, use two cups Cup4Cup instead of the one cup each of all-purpose and wheat flours. You may need to add an additional minute or two to the baking time.