Friday, January 27, 2012

For the Love of Bananas

Is it too early to start baking with Valentines in mind? There's a solid two and a half weeks or so before the holiday, but I feel utterly compelled to cover every surface in my apartment with heart shaped confetti. And, while I'm not one for big romantic gestures, chick flicks, or greeting cards, I do love me an excuse to do some themed baking.

The holiday also provided the impetus to reinvigorate this blog. I definitely took a little (six month) vacation from posting, but I'm feeling newly inspired and have a billion things to bake. So, without further adieu, here is a great recipe for some love-ly banana muffins.
The original recipe is from the famed Flour bakery in Boston. I've eaten there a few times, but I've never had their banana bread. Apparently, it's famous. While Flour has many popular recipes, I can see why this one stands out to people. The day I baked it, it had a light, airy texture that most quick breads don't have. On the second day, however, the bread was much more dense, but the flavor become more pronounced and was reminiscent of most other great banana breads. The technique used in the recipe is a little unusual; I've never gone to the trouble of whipping eggs and sugar for a quick bread. The original recipe called for the eggs and sugar to be whipped for ten minutes, but I found this odd, and it made me nervous for some reason, so I whipped them for about five.
The recipe originally called for it to be baked in a loaf pan, but it didn't say what size, so I decided to make it into muffins. And, of course, I chose to add the little hearts. I just cut the banana into disks, and then cut the disks into heart shapes. I added a little bit of brown sugar to the hearts to help caramelize the bananas, but the flavor was pretty mild so you could skip this step if you feel lazy. The original recipe also called for walnuts, but I only had roasted peanuts so I just added those instead. While I usually like my banana bread smooth and un-nutted, the batter was so light and fluffy I felt that it could probably use some crunch, and I wanted to make sure the hearts didn't sink to the bottom.

Now, go make these with those semi-blackened bananas sitting in your fruit basket.

Note: 2/3 of one banana made 12 hearts. Save the excess from the hearts to add to the bread.
Makes: 18 Muffins

1 2/3 cups
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup dry roasted peanuts

Set oven to 350 degrees F. Line or grease muffin tin.

Cut disks out of one of the bananas. Cut the disks into hearts.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat sugar and eggs with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients and nuts. Spoon into muffin pan and bake for about 10 minutes.

While the muffins are baking, dredge the hearts in brown sugar.

After muffins have been baking for 10 minutes, take the muffins out of the oven. Working quickly, gently push a heart into each muffin.

Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached.


  1. These look awesome! Glad to see you posting again. I found that you can also freeze over-ripe bananas and use them for making banana bread later if you can't time it quite right with the ripening. Of course this excludes those cute heart toppers.

  2. Those look amazing, I like the heart idea a lot!

  3. Thanks guys! I've never thought of freezing ripe bananas before, but I'll keep that trick in mind!