We are in that home run territory of the season people. We’re rounding third and getting ready to slide in…to Christmas!
I’m headed home to Minnesota on Friday to get my winter fix. I think Minnesota will always remain my most favorite place to be during the holidays. It continues to feel like a magical wonderland to me. Especially because I’ll be spending it at Mille Lacs Lake, doing general cabin things like ice fishing, with my mom, brother, and family. Yesssss please.
Side note: ice fishing is probably the best kept secret of curmudgeonly men in the north. You sit in a warm shack on the ice, drinking beer, and waiting for a fish to bite. Except, the best part is that you don’t even have to hold your fishing line. It is attached to the afore-mentioned warm shack! You just drop the line into the hole in the ice. Of course, I’ve never had to drill the hole or move the ice shack onto the lake, so my viewpoint may be skewed.
Anyway, back to MN! And Christmas. My favorite part about being with family around the holidays is the morning routine. Everyone making their sleepy way down to the kitchen, one by one. Coffee brewing, voices turning from whispers to excited conversations, and morning foods on the mind. I actually used to get angry with my mother when she didn’t wake me up during Christmas mornings when the rest of the family was already up. I felt like I was missing out on the precious bits. As such, special breakfasts have always reminded me of the holidays.
These muffins are in-line with that holiday morning magic. Chocolate cookies baked on top of a banana muffin—because when else can you eat this sweet treat like it’s a normal thing for breakfast?
Last week I shared a fabulous Tahini Cardamom Latte and Honey Molasses Stroopwafel, so you can bet that your holiday mornings are solved. Also, if you’re looking for another favorite, this strata will always be a home run. Yay breakfast!
Now for the science fun. My very first post was surrounding the science behind muffin baking. So I thought I’d throw it back to then. But please excuse the poor photos. Also, this is of course a very brief overview of the basics, so search around on the site for a whole bunch of other good stuff!
The secret to the perfect muffin is setting up the perfect structure.
Starch: Starch, a bunch of glucose (simple sugar) molecules linked together, is a large component in carbohydrates and contributes to sweetness and softness. When water and heat is added, the starch swells and increases the consistency of the batter.
Protein: Protein, in this case, gluten, is responsible for the base structure of the muffin. The high heat disrupts the protein structure and causes fragments to bond elsewhere and create a strong network. Air, from the baking powder (or another leavening agent in other recipes such as baking soda) creates the air pockets in the baked good and causes the entire network to rise up.
Add these two (+1/2 with the leavening agent) components together, and you get the beginning basics of the magic behind baked goods.
Have a holly jolly holiday season, and I wish you all the best from the Minnesota tundra! xoxo
Chocolate Cookie-Topped Banana Bread Muffins
I find it easiest to have all the ingredients for everything prepped in advance. Here, you don’t want the banana bread batter sitting for too long while you make the chocolate cookies. Therefore, minimizing the time to get the cookie dough together is ideal.
Makes 12 with extra cookie dough
Cookies adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book
Banana bread adapted from this
For the Banana Bread Muffins
¼ cup shortening, at room temperature
¾ cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup sour milk*
½ cup + 2 tablespoons mashed rrrrripe bananas (somewhere between 1 ½ and 2 bananas)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
For the Chocolate Cookies
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar, plus ½ cup more for rolling
1 large egg
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cardamom, for rolling (optional)
- Make the batter for the muffins first. Cream the shortening and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the egg, banana, and vanilla. Beat until combined and scrape the bowl.
- Sift together the flours, baking soda, and salt. Add the sour milk and dry ingredients in three additions each, alternating between. I find it best to end with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Be sure to give the batter a final turn and scrape with a rubber spatula.
- Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with baking spray or line with paper cups. Divide the batter among the 12 cups evenly. Wash the bowl and paddle attachment to make the cookies.
- Make the cookie dough. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, soda, and salt. Beat together the butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, yogurt, and vanilla. Beat until combined and scrape the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low until combined.
- Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Combine the extra half cup of sugar and cardamom on a shallow plate. Break off 12 heaping tablespoons of dough and roll into balls. Roll each ball in the sugar mix and press flat in your hands lightly. Place each flattened cookie on the top of each muffin cup full of banana bread. Be gentle so that you don’t disturb the batter.
- You’ll have extra cookie dough, so either freeze the rest of the dough, or see below for baking instructions on the cookies.
- Bake the cookie-topped muffins in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes. The muffins should be firm, not wobbly. Poke at the muffins to ensure the cookies are baked through and the muffins are firm.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack in the pan. When just warm, remove the muffins by inverting the muffin pan. Eat within a day or two or freeze in an airtight bag.
- To bake the extra cookie dough, scoop the cookie dough into 3-ounce balls. Roll each ball in the sugar mixture and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake at 350⁰F 11-14 minutes util the edges are set and the center begins to crackle. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the pan.
*To make the sour milk, put a tablespoon of distilled vinegar in a glass measuring cup and fill to the ½ cup mark.*