banana nut muffins


Ah, yes. Banana nut, a total classic combination. A fail safe. One that will never lead you astray. (Unless you are, like cute Colin, a walnut-hater. I say: All haters, try them once in a cookie or a scone and see if you change your mind. It's a nice crunchy balance to otherwise sweetness. No one's asking you to eat them straight, become the Walnut King. Omega-3's, people, omega-3's! Ah, but he's so cute.)

Having a hankering for this particular flavor, I decided to stalk the cookbooks (and, okay, the internet) for the perfect recipe. I've done this before, of course, and came through with what is now a favorite healthy version of banana bread, to which we've often added mix-ins like dried fruit, nuts or, ahem, chocolate. All equally delicious, if I do say so myself.

So, couldn't I just transform this successful recipe into muffin-form, you ask? Well, maybe, possibly. But then that wouldn't be a challenge, would it? And THEN, I might not have combined ideas from several different recipes and landed on the let's-sub-coconut-oil train (a ride I frequent more than ever, these days), which always leds a nice, subtle crispiness to all the baked goods it touches: a nice crunch to the edge of cookies, a zen crustiness to the top of a cake. You get the idea. Coconut oil is for winners.

For this particular winning recipe, you will need:

3-4 ripe bananas (I realize this vague, but use your best judgement. Are the HUGE? Teeny-tiny? When you mash them all up, do they add up to about a cup and a half? Perfect.)
1/3 cup melted, but not hot, coconut oil
3/4 cup of sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine your mashed bananas and coconut oil. They might take a minute to blend, but fold vigorously and you'll get there. Mix in your sugar, egg and vanilla. (I also came across several recipes that incorporated a tablespoon of espresso around this step. A grand idea, but as I was espresso-less, I moved on.)

Add your cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Mix thoroughly and then add your flour, folding quickly until just incorporated. Stir in your walnuts.

Add the mixture to a baking tin, which you can either line with paper cups or grease (very lightly) with a little more coconut oil, for a little more crunch in the muffin exterior. I went paper this time because, let's face it, clean-up seemed like a drag. Who wants to do dishes when there's eating to be done?

Bake for about 22-25 minutes or until deep brown on top. These came out with great color, actually. Dark but not burnt, the exact color I think of when a recipe calls for a "golden brown" finish. Perfect with a little jam or with nothing at all, these were great for an on-the-go breakfast or a hey-I'm-hungry snack. (I recommend that particular kind of snack at least twice a day.)