Banana Honey-Walnut Muffins
If you opened my freezer and looked in the bottom drawer, you’d think I was some sort of crazy person who hordes old brown bananas. The truth is that I’m not crazy; it’s just that I always buy too many bananas and am a wee bit fanatic about not wasting food. It’s a trait that was ingrained in culinary school, where the chefs would randomly check our trash cans to make sure nothing that could be transformed into something else was in there. (And believe me, there had better not be, unless you wanted to get chewed out by a French chef, which is completely humiliating.) I learned pretty quickly that nothing is wasted in a restaurant kitchen: old bread becomes breadcrumbs; bones become stock; vegetable odds and ends become soup; cake trimmings become dessert trifles; and (you guessed it) old bananas become banana muffins, banana bread or banana cupcakes.
Now, I’m guessing you don’t have a lot of bones or cake trimmings lying around, but we’ve all got old bananas. Once they’re past their prime, let them get really brown and then throw them in a ziplock bag in the freezer. That way you can whip up some banana baked goods whenever the mood strikes you. I have several recipes you might enjoy, like classic Banana Bread or Banana Bread with Coconut & Pecans, but these muffins are unique because they’re sweetened with honey. They’re wonderfully light and fluffy with a mild banana flavor that allows the distinctive taste of honey to shine through.
You begin by chopping some nuts and mixing them with a bit of honey and cinnamon. You can leave out the nuts if you prefer; I usually make half with and half without since my kids prefer them plain.
Next, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl…
Use an electric mixer to combine butter, sugar and honey until creamy…
Add eggs one by one…
Mix in mashed bananas and vanilla…
Stir in dry ingredients and milk…
Use an ice cream scooper to fill the pan, then top the batter with nuts. Bake for 30 minutes…
Cool muffins in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.
Serve warm and enjoy!
Banana Honey-Walnut Muffins
Adapted from Food & Wine
Makes 12 muffins
¾ cup chopped walnuts
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup mashed bananas (you’ll need 1 large very ripe banana)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup whole or low fat milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, then line with paper liners (it is necessary to do both so that muffin tops don’t stick to pan).
2. In a small bowl, toss the nuts with the 1 tablespoon of honey and cinnamon until nuts are evenly coated (obviously, it will be very sticky).
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder and salt. Use a whisk to blend well. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar and the remaining 1/3 cup of honey until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula if necessary. At medium speed, add the eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated between additions. Beat in the banana and vanilla until blended. (It will look grainy.) At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients in 2 batches, alternating with the milk.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin (I like to use an ice cream scooper) and sprinkle with the nut topping. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
- To defrost frozen bananas, place in a bowl and leave out at room temperature or microwave for about a minute (the bowl is important because they “leak”).
- You can also use 1 cup all purpose flour and ½ cup whole wheat flour.
- If you omit or halve the nuts, omit or halve the 1 tablespoon honey and cinnamon accordingly.
- Be sure to measure flour properly: spoon into dry measuring cup until it’s overflowing, then use
the straight edge of a knife to level off.
- Muffins are best served warm. Reheat quickly in microwave or toaster (remember to remove paper first!).