Moist banana muffins embrace espresso powder

Coffee and chocolate are a dynamic duo. Even coffee and cinnamon are fast friends.

But coffee and banana? Don’t get me wrong. I’d drink a cuppa joe with a moist slice of banana bread. But putting the coffee inside my baked banana treats is untested territory for me.

It apparently takes a palate accustomed to starting the day with a cup of strong, black coffee and a banana. From those two basic commodities, Chicago Tribune writer JeanMarie Brownson devised a decadent muffin that invites chocolate and cinnamon, plus nuts, to play along. And as this blog’s previous post acknowledged, the bitter note of espresso powder punches up other flavors.

With overripe bananas piling up in my freezer for want of enthusiasm to transform them into something more appealing, this recipe might be just the inspiration I need. The fact that these muffins freeze well is another reason to recommend them.

Tribune News Service photo

Coffeehouse Banana-Nut Muffins With Chocolate and Cinnamon

2 cups stone-ground, white whole-wheat flour

3 tablespoons espresso powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

2 large ripe bananas, peeled

2 large eggs

2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons safflower or sunflower oil

1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

1/2 cup semisweet or dark-chocolate chips

1/2 cup cinnamon chips, peanut-butter chips, white-chocolate chips or more chocolate chips

Espresso-Cinnamon Glaze (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350 F. Line 12 regular muffin tins with paper liners. Alternatively, line tins with foil liners and spray liners with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, espresso powder, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon, if using.

Put the bananas in a separate bowl. Mash until smooth with a potato masher or fork. Stir in the eggs until smooth. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Stir in the oil. Add flour mixture and fold gently to moisten all flour. Gently mix in the pecans, chocolate chips and cinnamon chips, if using. (Do not overmix or muffins will be tough.)

Use a spoon to divide mixture among muffin tins filling them to rims. Tap pan on work surface to release any air pockets. Bake in preheated oven, turning pan once for even browning, until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean, for 22 to 24 minutes. Cool muffins in pans. Glaze when barely warm. Best served same day as baked.

Makes 12 muffins.

ESPRESSO-CINNAMON GLAZE: In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons espresso powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon half-and-half (or milk or cream). Mix until smooth, adding a few drops of half-and-half if needed to make a pourable glaze.

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