Sweetcakes: Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

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A surplus of overripe bananas is never a bad thing in our house. For one thing, my husband actually eats them. And when he forgets—or when I’ve really bought too many bananas, as I did this week—I make banana bread.

Here’s the thing: I rarely make banana bread the same way twice. Sometimes I feel virtuous and make it with whole wheat flour and flaxseed meal. Other times I’ll brown the butter in a saucepan before mixing the batter, which gives it a nutty flavor. Occasionally I’m inspired to throw in some chopped dark chocolate, or when I really want a treat, I make my banana bread with peanut butter.

Today I decided to modify my approach. My thought process went something like this: I wanna make banana bread, but I can’t keep it in the house because we’ll eat it all. I’ll give it to Paul to take to work. But bringing a bread to work is kind of awkward, the cutting and all. Okay, so! Muffins it is. Let’s add some chocolate chips. I have the end of a jar of peanut butter, so maybe i can scrape away about a quarter cup… now to Google recipes. Nothing for banana peanut butter chocolate chip muffins? Internet, you disappoint me.

I found a recipe for banana chip muffins, took it apart, then put it back together my way. What I’ve created here is a super-easy, incredibly decadent-feeling, flavor-packed breakfast, dessert, or snack.

Here you go, America.

RECIPE: BANANA PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

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Time: 12 minute to prep / 20 minutes to bake

Serves: 15 (12 muffins, plus a mini-loaf for 3)

Ingredients:

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. coarse salt

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)

3/4 c. dark brown sugar (not packed)

1/4 c. butter, melted and cooled slightly (4 tbsp. or a half stick)

1/4 c. creamy peanut butter

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Spray a mini-loaf pan with Pam, or rub some vegetable oil along sides and bottom to coat.

Combine the first four ingredients together in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk. Next, combine the banana and sugar in a larger bowl, mixing quickly with a whisk to break up any lumps in the sugar. Next add the rest of the wet ingredients, the butter through the vanilla, and mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture is uniform.

Fold the flour mixture into the the wet mixture until just combined. Then stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Divide batter first among muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Put the remainder of the batter in the loaf pan, and using a spatula try to even out the batter.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The mini-loaf may take a few minutes longer than the muffins. Cool everything in-pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn out carefully onto a plate and allow to cool completely.

Serving suggestions:

These muffins go equally well with coffee or tea. If you think that’s a really tame suggestion—well, fine. Do it. Get the vanilla ice cream or the fro-yo. Mash it all together in a bowl and have yourself a banana peanut butter chocolate chip muffin sundae. BOOM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Tooth: The Revamped Chocolate Chip Cookie

Meet the cookies.

A lot of my experiments in the kitchen over the last few years have focused on “lightening up” traditional recipes for sweet treats.  Admittedly, weight loss is difficult to achieve when you have a sweet tooth (okay, a mouth full of sweet teeth) and a discerning palette. I don’t do 100-calorie packs or diet cookies. I can taste the fakeness.  I’ve [almost] perfected angel food cake, and meringues of many flavors, but sometimes—many times—I don’t want a light, airy dessert. I want a cookie.

A real cookie.

Chocolate chip cookies were the first cookies I learned to bake. They may be the first cookies I ever ate.  I remember watching my mother get all the ingredients together hours in advance of the actual baking, allowing plenty of time for the butter to soften and for the eggs to get to room temperature. I remember stealing a taste of the dough at every stage of mixing —once the butter and sugar had been creamed together, after the eggs and vanilla had been added, again after the dry ingredients had been mixed in, and finally—blissfully—after the semi-sweet morsels had been stirred in and evenly distributed throughout the dough.

My hand got a few good smacks, and I was chastised repeatedly for eating raw eggs, but I didn’t care.  I thought it was my duty to ensure that our final product was perfect, and you can almost guarantee a perfect cookie when you have perfect dough. I say “almost” because if you bake chocolate chip cookies even a minute too long, you can miss perfection entirely.

That was my thinking, anyway.  I didn’t drink milk as a child (and I still haven’t acquired a taste for it), so I didn’t want a crisp cookie for dunking.  I wanted chewy cookies, and not rubbery-chewy, like the kind of cookies made with applesauce or some other fat stand-in for butter. I wanted the real deal, and I was very quick to detect imitations (ahem, Pillsbury & Pepperidge Farm. I am talking to you).  Those kinds of cookies were readily available at school functions and friends’ houses, but my mother always made Tollhouse cookies, faithfully following the recipe on the back of a bag of Nestlé semi-sweet morsels.  To this day, I still uphold that recipe as the gold standard.

Last Sunday, I was faced with a challenge: I wanted a real deal cookie, and I’d also made a really good effort to plan a series of healthy meals for the week, so I didn’t want to make something that would thwart my efforts.  How to make a real-deal cookie without all the fat in a real-deal cookie?  This is a multi-layered challenge for a number of reasons.

  1. Baking being chemistry, altering the fat content of a classic recipe could produce a disaster, and it has in the past (with applesauce).
  2. Butter guarantees excellent taste, a perfect crumb, and moisture (as do the eggs).  Water or fat-free milk simply would not do.  Vegetable oil?  Sorry, but no.
  3. Chocolate chips are a key ingredient in these cookies.  No fat free substitutions would fit in there.

Ultimately, there was one solution: keep all the good stuff in, but use less.

For guidance, I referred to a recipe from Nick Malgieri and David Joachim’s book, Perfect Light Desserts, “David’s Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies”.  The recipe served as a good starting point: lower in fat, no substitutions for the good stuff, and heavy on the chocolate—perhaps a little too heavy.  So, if I cut back on the chocolate chips, what could I add to the ensemble cast of ingredients that would amp up taste and texture without getting in the way of the show’s star, the wonderful semi-sweet morsels?

Enter Rice Krispies.  Think about it for second.  Makes sense, right?

Many bakers have prepared chocolate chip cookies with Rice Krispies (several recipes are available online).  They add crunch, and an airy lightness to the cookies.  Their sweetness is subtle, but there’s enough of a presence that you can cut back a bit on the white sugar (which I did, by 2 tablespoons from David’s recipe).

But I didn’t stop there. After another scan of my pantry, my eyes spied the finely shredded, unsweetened coconut, and I added some of that to the recipe, too. You know, just because.

The result, friends, is a batch of wonderful, delicious and truly dynamic cookies—chocolaty, chewy and crispy, warmly sweet, and perfectly satisfying.  I sent my boyfriend to work with them on Monday (reserving a few for myself, naturally), and they disappeared very quickly.

Then the compliments flowed in, and I knew I couldn’t keep this one to myself.

RECIPE

Chocolate Chip Rice Krispy Cookies

Adapted from David Joachim’s recipe for Super Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 30 to 35 cookies

For Ronnie

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp 2% or whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping cup Rice Krispies
  • 3 tbsp finely shredded unsweetened coconut

Method:

  1. Set racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (or lightly grease them).
  2. Mix the first 3 ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugars together in mixer with a paddle attachment on medium for about a minute.  (Alternatively you can use electric beaters.) Then beat in egg and milk until they are absorbed, then the vanilla.
  4. Scrape down the bowl and beat in the flour mixture on low speed until all ingredients are blended together.
  5. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the chocolate chips, Rice Krispies and coconut. Make sure all the additions are as evenly distributed as possible.
  6. Chill the dough for at least 15 minutes before baking.
  7. Use an ice cream scoop to form the cookies into 1.25” balls, and set each about 2 inches apart in the pan.
  8. Put cookie sheets in the oven and set the timer for 8 minutes.  At this point you’ll want to check the cookies and see if they’re browning – you want to bake them till they’re just golden to ensure a good balance of chewiness and crispiness.  My cookies took about 10 minutes to bake.
  9. Cool in pan for 2 minutes, then using a spatula move cookies to cool on a wire rack.  These cookies are terrific warm (not hot), or at room temperature.
  10. Store between sheets of wax paper in an air-tight container for up to 4 days— if they last even that long.

Weight Watcher Points Plus Info

  • 2 points per cookie