Every now and then I have friends ask me how I come up with the recipes that I do. They assume that I have tons of time on my hands to be constantly baking and that I spend loads of money on groceries tracking down the fancy ridiculous ingredients I have in the pantry. However the reality is that I NEVER seem to have enough times on my hands, and I’m pretty darn frugal when it comes to spending money (hello, freelancer here, I’m perpetually broke). Now, one of the perks of having a food blog is that you occasionally get samples of ingredients from companies that want you to review their products, even when I tell them that I normally don’t do reviews. However, even if I didn’t get those samples, the fact is, most of my baking and food making revolves around a desperate attempt to use up food that we have in the house that would otherwise go bad. So when a bunch of bananas sitting on my counter were about to give up their ghost, I tried to figure out what to do with them that didn’t involve banana bread (having already posted two different banana bread recipes on here already). Thus the Banana & Green Tea Milk Chocolate Chunk Muffin was born.
I used to be a chocolate snob, saying that I only love dark chocolate…the darker the better. After all, I’m not a child anymore, stuffing my face with the sweet creamy Hershey’s or Nestle’s milk chocolate bars that I got at Halloween, which always gave me shivers of pleasure (though maybe that was just the sugar coursing through my veins, making me hyper). As I got older, I “outgrew” milk chocolate and I found myself reaching for rich, barely sweet, deep dark chocolate with hints of tobacco and dark berries over the sweet milk chocolate that childhood Irvin used to crave. Of course, there was a tipping point where I realized that super dark doesn’t necessarily mean tastier to me. Eventually I realized anything over 80% cacao was usually too chalky for me and I preferred the 55-65% range, which I affectionately called “my sweet spot” of dark chocolate percentages. However, lately I’ve come to appreciate quality milk chocolate for what it is, especially as small, well-crafted chocolatiers have taken on the challenge of creating superior milk chocolate. Good milk chocolate makes me nostalgic for my younger self, without resorting to eating the waxy sugary chocolate from the grocery stores.
AJ is a fan of the muffin and coffee breakfast. He has often told me that he would prefer I make more muffins and less cookies, cakes and brownies, as somehow it seems totally socially acceptable to eat a muffin in the morning, but not a slice of cake, cookies or brownie (silly society). In turn, I have been making a number or muffins lately, all of which are occupying room in my freezer next to the chicken and turkey stock I have in there, as we can’t really eat a batch of muffins in a day or two. These include the pistachio cherry cornmeal muffins I made for the penguin in my dreams a few weeks ago and a different batch of muffins I developed recently for a collaborative contest with Peanut Butter & Co. and Bob’s Red Mill. Those particular muffins, a Strawberry Jam filled Banana Peanut Butter Oat Muffin with Oatmeal Crumb Topping, are bad-ass (if you don’t mind me tooting my own horn). You can check them out and find their recipe over at the Nuts about Oats website. While you’re at it, bounce over there and take the extra time to check out the other entries and vote for your favorite one – I’m in good company and they are all fantastic.
Of course, while developing the banana peanut butter oat recipe, I ended up buying extra ingredients (like bananas) to make sure that I had enough, in case something went awry in the development process. Thankfully I didn’t have to do too many rounds with that particular recipe, which meant I had extra bananas lying around getting more and more speckled and brown. So in the end, I took a look at my pantry, realized I hadn’t played with my canister of matcha green powder in awhile and I had some milk chocolate bars floating in the back that the excellent Theo Chocolate sent to me to play with in the kitchen and these muffins were born. I’m not complaining, and neither is AJ. After all I got rid of the bananas, and he gets to eat more muffins.
Special thanks to Peanut Butter & Co. and Bob’s Red Mill for inviting me to participate in their Nuts about Oats contest. I was compensated with a small honorarium for developing the recipe for the contest. Please be sure to check out the awesome other contributing bloggers, including An Edible Mosaic, Always Order Dessert, So Good and Tasty, Lemons and Lavender and Thyme in our Kitchen. They all created some wonderful breakfast and brunch items and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be included in their company. Be sure to vote for your favorite item, as you could win a prize pack from both Peanut Butter & Co. and Bob’s Red Mill of product worth $100.
Also special thanks to Theo Chocolate for sending me samples of their milk chocolate to play with in the kitchen. Though I did receive the chocolate free of charge, all opinions stated above are my own and I was not compensated for this post.
By Irvin Lin
I have a thing for swirling and marbling batters together. Well, actually, I have a thing with combining different flavors together and marbling the batters allows for each flavor to compliment each other, as opposed to throwing them all in one batter, where the flavors become muted and muddled. Extra bonus is you have a great looking baked good that is all pretty and swirly. These muffins are a great example of that, where the subtle green swirls look as good as they taste surrounded by the light brown muffin crumb. The sweet milk chocolate chunks brings the entire muffin together, giving everyone a good excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast.
Green matcha powder can be found at Asian grocery stores or online. I used a “culinary quality” version but any type you find should work.
210 g (1 1/2 cups) white all purpose flour
190 g (1 1/4 cups) white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or kosher salt)
115 g (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter
170 g (3/4 cup) dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 medium ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk (well shaken)
1 teaspoon matcha tea powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
115 g (4 oz or 3/4 cup) chopped milk chocolate
55 g (1/4 cup) turbinado sugar, sometimes called Sugar in the Raw (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and spray a standard sized muffin tin with cooking oil (or line it with paper cups if you’d like).
2. Place the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl, and stir vigorously with a wire whisk until uniform in color and well blended.
3. Place the butter in a medium pan (preferably one with a silver bottom) and turn the heat to high. Once the butter has melted, lower the heat to medium and stir frequently until the solids at the bottom of the pan starts to brown and the butter starts to smell nutty and fragrant. Turn the heat off and continue to stir until all the solid has turned a golden brown.
4. Pour the butter (making sure to scrape the brown bits as well) into the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the brown sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat for 1 minutes on medium speed to cool the butter. Add the bananas and beat for 1 minute or until the bananas are well blended into the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Add the buttermilk and beat for an additional 30 seconds or until well blended.
5. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add the flour blend all at once. Using a large spatula, fold and blend the flour into the wet ingredients, until just mixed together (You want a few dry lumps and pockets in there). Scoop out 1/2 of the batter and place it in the mixing bowl that had the dry flour ingredients in it.
6. In the batter remaining in the standing bowl mixer, add the cinnamon, ground ginger and chopped chocolate. Mix with a spatula until the spices and chocolate are well distributed in the batter. In the other mixing bowl, where you moved 1/2 of the batter, add the matcha tea powder to that part of the batter, and mix with the spatula until the batter is a uniform green color.
7. Using a tablespoon, add dollops of alternating batter to the prepared muffin tin, one spoonful of green tea batter, one spoonful of chocolate spice batter, once spoonful of green tea batter, one spoonful of chocolate spice batter. Once you have evenly divided up the batter into the muffin tin, take a butter knife and stick it into each muffin tin, swirling the batter in a figure 8 motion, to swirl the batters together. Firmly tap the muffin pan on the counter or kitchen table, to settle the batter into the pan. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over each of the muffins (if using) and place in the oven.
8. Bake for 19 to 21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the center muffin comes out clean. Do not overbake the muffins, as they will be dry. Let them rest in the muffin tin for 5 minutes or so before moving the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 12 muffins.