Monday, February 25, 2013

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

This past week, we had the pleasure of hosting my parents and four of my youngest siblings for a couple days. Matthew was so excited for their arrival that he was gazing out the window for what seemed like 2 days straight. It got a little annoying to constantly answer the question: "Coming, Grandma?" But I understand his excitement. It's always a party when Grandma is in town.

Matthew gets a crazy amount of attention from his little Aunts and Uncles.  The youngest three are all under the age of 10, and thus function as perfect playmates for Matthew. He, Bruce, and Susanna will parade around the house, moving from one mischievous activity to the next with lots of laughter, squealing, and screaming. This visit, the relatives brought presents for Matthew as well. Matthew received a Thomas the Train wall clock for his bedroom and a helicopter that lights up and makes some obnoxious buzzing sounds (the noises have annoyed Paul and I so much that we have both already thought about chucking it out the window). Needless to say, the kid is spoiled rotten.

In preparation for the visit, Matthew and I baked up a batch of muffins. Matthew has become increasingly helpful in the kitchen. He loves donning his little apron and helping measure, sift, and mix together ingredients. He measures flour and sugar very precisely, even carefully using his index finger to level off the measuring cup. He even invented a little high-pitched song (of course!) to sing as he whisks together the ingredients: "Mix...Mix...MIIIIIIXXXX!" I think he really enjoys seeing the process of baking and cooking. I find that he is more eager to eat the items that he helped prepare. Hopefully, he will continue to delight in being my kitchen helper in the future! I really wish I could post a picture of him helping out, but he has been super NOT photogenic as of late. He makes a really awful grimace whenever I ask him to smile for the camera. It looks like he is being forced into kitchen duty rather than enjoying some bonding time with Mommy.

The muffins we made were Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip from the Baked Cookbook that I received for Christmas. Although I was very apprehensive about how the kids would find the instant espresso powder, these muffins appealed to everyone and disappeared quickly. I think they were definitely best after resting for a day to allow the flavors to really mingle. This is definitely my new favorite breakfast muffin (although these babies will always hold a special place in my heart) - simply perfect with a hot mug of coffee!

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
Recipe barely adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

1-1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray (or line with muffin papers). In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, milk, and egg. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, instant espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill each cup about 3/4 full. Bake in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Move the muffin pan to a cooling rack, and let cool  for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the muffins from the pan and let them finish cooling on the cooling rack. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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