Sunday, February 1, 2009

Espresso Banana Muffins

GOOD MORNING! That's me imitating Finn at 7:00 am this morning. When you're forced to jump out of bed as the sun is coming up on a Sunday morning and take a 15 minute trek around the neighborhood (skidding on ice, wearing every item of clothing you own and not seeing another sign of life) you really must come home to something warm and comforting. These muffins are quintessentially Sunday morning food - homey, rich, and full of deep flavors (espresso & walnuts). Just to top it off, Nick and I went out and brought home coffees from one of our favorite Providence cafes, Seven Stars Bakery, to enjoy with the muffins.

This recipe comes from Heidi Swanson's book Super Natural Cooking (one of my all-time favorite cookbooks!!). Her book is divided into 5 chapters: Building a Natural Foods Pantry, Explore a Wide Range of Grains, Cook by Color, Know Your Superfoods, and Use Natural Sweeteners. The Espresso Banana Muffins fall under the second category.

Espresso Banana Muffins:
2 cups white whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 1/4 cups chopped toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon fine espresso powder (I ground some dark coffee until very fine)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt (I used plain Greek yogurt, which is super creamy!)
1 1/2 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 3 large bananas)

Heat oven to 375, position the racks low in the oven and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, 3/4 cup of the walnuts, and the espresso powder in a bowl and whisk to combine.

In a separate large bowl or stand mixer, 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, overmixing will result in tough muffins.

Spoon into the prepared muffin tin (an ice-cream scoop works well), top with the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, and bake until golden, about 23 minutes. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 muffins.

Heidi notes "This decadent espresso-flecked morning muffin with a big, walnut-crusted top is everything a muffin should be. If you need more than espresso to lure you out of bed, stir in some chocolate chunks."

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