Saturday, April 17, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip & Walnut Muffins: A Family Tradition

My grandma, ever the typical Jew, never failed to ply my brother and I with sweets and good food. She spent a lot of time at my house growing up, always toting shopping bags full of things for the two of us. My brother would always walk out to car, give her a kiss and sweetly ask if he could help her bring in her bags. I chose to forgo the ass kissing and wait to see what she brought for me, knowing that, without fail, there would be banana bread.

She always had banana bread at her house and would always bring it to mine. I'd dig through her bags searching for the cool touch of tinfoil, pulling it out to see how much she brought. Sometimes it would be a full loaf, others a half, and sometimes it would be frozen depending on when she made it. Whatever it was, it was good. I mostly learned to eat it frozen, sawing through the loaf with a serrated knife (or having my parents do so), and then slowly eating the "crust" created by the pan off of the bottom three sides. Then I'd eat the top, followed by the inside.

When my grandma passed away, banana bread ceased to be for awhile. Finally, my mom contacted my great aunt, Rose, to ask for the recipe. Aunt Rose is the originator of the recipe and always has banana bread, along with machine cookies, whenever we visit her in Florida. Since then, there has never been a time when banana bread has not existed in this house in some form or another. When I was in the Midwest and stopped coming home often, I took the recipe and the old MixMaster with me. My freezer rarely went without, which saved me from many breakfast-free days. We also passed the recipe onto my cousin when she moved to Texas a few years ago, and even over-nighted her some when she was stuck on bed rest for way too many weeks. Now that she's back in town, she hands us the babies the minute she walks in the house and proceeds to raid our freezer. A month ago, she actually licked one so my dad wouldn't take her second one away. It's become a bit of a family addiction.

After some trouble with baking loaves, my mom started to make muffins instead of bread. This was the perfect change: more crusty sides and no need to wield a knife. She also substituted out regular chocolate chips for the more premium kind, and we all know that good chocolate equals better baked goods. The recipe below includes our slight improvements, but still holds all the goodness of the original.

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3 sticks softened butter
2 cups mashed bananas
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
12 oz chocolate chips, preferably high-quality, such as
Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
3/4 cups chopped walnuts

1. First prepare your ingredients. Mix the baking soda and powder with your flour, mash your bananas, chop your walnuts, and let the butter sit out to soften.

Use very ripe bananas. Frozen are fine for up to 1 cup, otherwise the texture changes.

This is how we chop nuts in our house. Rolling pin, plastic bag, and no mess.

2. In your mixer, cream your butter. Add in sugar and eggs until mixed thoroughly.

3. Alternate mixing in the bananas and the flour mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides on occasion.

This makes a very thick batter as you can see. If you don't think your mixer can handle thick and heavy things, please use a bowl. This recipe made the old MixMaster overheat, which meant I have made this by hand.

4. By hand, mix in the chocolate chips and nuts. Again, this is to protect your mixer. I use a massive metal spoon.

Best chocolate chips ever. They make great emergency chocolate when you're having one of those days.

5. Preheat your oven to 350F, spray and start to fill your tins. My mom likes to use a 1/3 measuring cup to do so, but I actually prefer to use a cookie scoop. Approximately two scoops fit our muffin tins perfectly. Plus, it's the only way I avoid making a mess.

That celery is making up for the muffin I planned to eat.

I think these tins belonged to my grandmother. Regardless, they're old.

6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until they are golden brown and pass the toothpick test. Time really depends on your oven. My crappy oven in law school seriously took 27 minutes. I don't think it was properly calibrated. I hated that thing.

7. Place on wire rack to let cool. My mom likes hers warm, I prefer mine to be, at the very least, room temperature. These muffins freeze extremely well in airtight contains or bags for up to a month. I eat them frozen like I did with my grandma's when I was a kid. My cousin also eats them frozen.

My grandma had this insane collection of china, especially teacups & saucers. This is one of my favorite, mostly because it is black & bright.


Shannon @ bakeandbloom said...

I wish I had more family recipes. My step mothers, mother taught me to make gnocchi over a weekend once & it is amongst my most precious memories.

Chocolate & bananas are always a winner..go grandma!

TheChocolatePriestess said...

I like everything in this recipe but sadly there are two reasons I'd never make this at my house.

One Acolyte hates bananas. Another hates chocolate chips or baking chips of any type actually.

This is just too much for one Priestess to eat.

Thank you for delighting my mind and eyes with your post. I hope you stop by my blog this week for a chance to win a hot chocolate maker.

Noelle said...

Looks delicious! I also made this but as cupcakes and with frosting.

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