Roasted Banana, Earl Grey and Dark Chocolate Muffins / by Chelsea Zwieg

I have this problem where the mood to bake with bananas only strikes me when there are perfectly ripe bananas on the counter. Of course things like banana bread or banana muffins are best with over-ripe bananas, so I pass and make something else. And then as soon as there are over-ripe bananas, all inspiration is gone and why-on-earth-would-I-want-to-bake-something-with-bananas-whose-idea-even-was-this? But no more. I have found the magical method that turns any banana, unripe, ripe, over-ripe, yellow, brown or speckled into the most glorious, caramelized, ready to be baked with substance. Well, I call it magic. Other people call it roasting. 

Roasting bananas, in their peels, for 20 minutes brings out their natural sugars which then caramelize and add more sweetness and moisture to whatever you use them in. Meaning you can start with unripe bananas and come away with muffins more flavorful, moist and caramely than if you sat around waiting for those bad boys to brown (while your inspiration slowly fades away). 

While we're on the trend of complex flavors, I also added some Earl Grey to these muffins. The tea brings a smokiness that perfectly balances the sweetness of the bananas. Plus I added some dark chocolate because if I see a space for chocolate chunks, then in they will go. You could also mix in any kind of nuts. I think almonds or hazelnuts would be amazing, but any pastry case I've ever seen has told me that bananas and walnuts have some sort of super exclusive clique so I'm sure they would be good to. (But really, I vote we move past the banana-walnut club. Who ever decided bananas should go with the most boring nut?). Whichever way you decide to take these, the magic of roasted bananas will have you high-fiving a million angels.  

Roasted Banana, Earl Grey and Dark Chocolate Muffins 

| Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped (or dark chocolate chips) 

| Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350. Place bananas, still in peels, on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes (the more unripe, the longer they will need.). Set aside to cool. Line 12 muffin cups with paper or foil muffin liners. 
  • In a small saucepan, heat milk over high heat until it just begins to bubble. Remove pan from heat and add tea bags. Allow to steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing excess liquid back into the pan. Return pan to medium heat, add butter and heat until butter is melted. Allow tea mixture to cool to room temperature. 
  • Meanwhile, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Remove roasted bananas from peels and place in a small bowl. Mash bananas well, leaving very few chunks. Add tea mixture and egg. Whisk to combine. 
  • Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined. Mix in chocolate chunks. Portion batter into prepared muffin tins, filling a little over 3/4 full. Bake 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool.