Saturday, May 9, 2009

Beginning and ending with roasted bananas

roasted banana muffins 1

I'm making some goals for myself this summer. It's actually turning into quite a long list, but my reasons behind every single thing have come back around to wanting to free up my time and my mind. I want room and energy for spontaneity and investment in friendships. This means that I have to add some things to my daily routine and clear some things out.

So, there will be more journalling to ensure that I'm addressing what's going on in my head and heart. And there will certainly be more yoga and more running. Conversely, there will be no movie or (online) T.V. show watching in my downtime. I can share those experiences with friends or seek relaxation through napping, reading, or walking.

There will also be no baking. I'm a bit ashamed of how difficult this one is looking. My footnote to this goal is that I'm free to bake with or specifically for friends. But "just for the heck of it" is out. A big reason is that it's just not economical to fire up an oven in summertime, when the air conditioner is already running, attempting to fight off the West Texas heat. Secondly, baking can require a lot of time and energy and can become a bit compulsive of a "need" for me, so I want to force a break upon myself.

roasted banana

In honor of this goal, I give you what may be my last baked good (till August, anyway). This week I have been watching three bananas in my fruit basket getting browner by the day, so when I decided to bake a farewell/thank you gift for a friend, something banana-y was an obvious choice. Heading over to one of my favorite food blogs, 101 Cookbooks, I was surprised to find a recipe in Heidi's archives that I hadn't seen before. The concept of using roasted bananas instantly caught my attention, and I decided to go for it with a few modifications.

Chocolate is almost always a more crowd-pleasing ingredient than raisins, and I have had a bar of Ghiradelli 60% hanging around for a while. Tossing that in with the pumpkin seeds, I decided that a hint of cumin or garam masala would be a nice addition (I'm out of cumin, so why don't you try it and get back to me?). Equally subtle, I sprinkled a mixture of turbinado sugar and coarse flakes of sel gris, or grey salt, on top of the muffins before sliding them into the oven.

I spread a bit of butter over a muffin this morning and sat down with a cup of tea for breakfast. I really like how these came out, combining savory flavors like garam masala, pumpkin seeds, and course salt with chocolate and bananas. The added weight of whole wheat flour made downing chocolate at 9:30 A.M. a perfectly natural action.

roasted banana muffins 2

Roasted Banana Muffins
with Pumpkin Seeds, Chocolate, & Sel Gris

Adapted from Stephan Pyles's Southwestern Vegetarian, as posted on 101 Cookbooks

2 ripe bananas, unpeeled
2 cups flour (I used 1 cup white whole wheat, 1 cup all purpose)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (cow's milk or other milk alternative is fine)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (or preferred seeds/nuts)
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or a generous 1/2 cup of chocolate chips)
Turbinado sugar for topping
Sel gris (or other course salt) for topping

Makes 16 muffins.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place bananas on a cookie sheet (or in a metal cake pan), and bake for about 12 minutes. The kitchen should smell of banana and their skins will be black and have started to seep. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Whisk flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, salt, and garam masala in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

Squeeze the bananas' flesh out of their skins and into a small mixing bowl. Add almond milk and vanilla and mash together.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, or a bowl big enough to be used with an electric hand beater, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly between each one.

Now add half the banana mixture to the electric mixer bowl and blend thoroughly on low speed. Add half the four mixture and mix until combined as well. Add the remaining banana mixture, blend thoroughly, and then ad the remaining flour mixture. Mix only to the point that the ingredients are combined. Fold in pumpkin seeds and chopped chocolate or chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops of each with a pinch of turbinado sugar and a pinch of sel gris.

Bake in the oven for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for five minutes. Invert muffin tin onto cooling rack, turn muffins upright, and allow them to cool completely (or dive in with some butter while their centers are still warm enough to soak it in!).


Jared and Kim said...

those look YUMMY! Definitely not a dessert, especially considering that they not only have bananas but also wheat flour! :) So I'm hoping when we're all in B'ham you can do some baking for us, right?

Shan. said...

so next time when some one offers me a muffin, i will imagine a banana that turned brown in their fruit basket :)

Lael said...

Jared and Kim: There will definitely be some baking happening while we're together! If nothing else...I'll make lemon cheesecake w/ a matzo meal crust. It's tradition.

Shan: As long as you can still enjoy the muffin with that thought in your head! Hopefully I haven't ruined the experience for you :)