In the stack of books on my nightstand, amongst the chick lit, biographies and business and finance books, you’ll see a few cookbooks nestled into the stack as well. I like reading cookbooks too. Half of you may think that’s weird. The other half will totally get it. I like reading the history of the chef, or how a restaurant got its start. I like reading the intro to the recipes and hearing how it was created and where the inspiration came from. I like thumbing through and sticking Post-Its on recipes that I want to make. Reading a cookbook is as satisfying as reading any of the other books in my stack. It just touches a different part of my psyche.
Last week, I made it to the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook, a tome of recipes from the 4-year-old bakery in Brooklyn. The introduction told of how the partners got their start, defying the odds and creating their space from an old church. Just to keep the construction project going, and the momentum to boot, they filled orders from their dining room table. When the bakery finally opened in January 2005, they were making just 48 cookies a day. Six months later, it was 200 a day. And now? Well, let’s just say that after being featured in both Oprah‘s magazine and on an episode of Martha Stewart, they’re a little more than the little bakery that could. They’re the little bakery that did.
With four bananas on the kitchen counter that seemed destined for banana bread (the babysitter kept threatening to throw them away – as if!), as soon as I saw this recipe for Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins in the cookbook, I knew they were meant for greater things than just banana bread. Muffins are an easy sell in this house, and the perfect grab-and-go breakfast for Nick, who never leaves enough time to sit down and eat a leisurely breakfast on school days. With the chocolate in them, they were a no-brainer.
After the kids were in bed, I turned the oven on and started getting out the ingredients. Half an hour later, Nick wandered downstairs, asking what smelled so good. The smell of these fresh-baked muffins literally hung in the air for days, and every time someone came over, they asked the same thing, “What smells so good?!”
Nick grabbed a napkin, and a muffin, and headed back upstairs. The next morning, he grabbed two for breakfast, and an extra one for his lunchbox. After school, he polished off two more. Although he likes muffins, and baked goods with bananas in them, I’ve never seen him go through muffins that quickly. He was responsible for polishing off at least half the batch himself over the course of a few days. And no wonder.
I swear these take just minutes to assemble. They make great use of pantry items, and overly ripe bananas, saving you a trip to the store. And they’re good. Even better toasted with a little swipe of soft butter. Moist. Not too dense. Fantastic flavor. They get that perfect little dome after baking that you just know a muffin should have. This is totally not the most famous recipe that the Baked bakery is known for, but if this first recipe I’ve made out of their cookbook is any indication, we’re in trouble here. Real, serious trouble.
Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
Recipe courtesy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
1-1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas (about 4)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, milk, and egg. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, instant espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Fill each cup about 3/4 full. Bake in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Move the muffin pan to a cooling rack, and let cool for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the muffins from the pan and let them finish cooling on the cooling rack. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Yield: 12 muffins (I got 16)