To start, chopped bittersweet chocolate, or feves which is what I used, was melted in a double-boiler. Mashed bananas were added to the melted chocolate. In a separate bowl, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt were sifted. With a stand mixer, butter and brown sugar were creamed, three eggs were added followed by vanilla extract, and then the dry ingredients, cacao nibs, and chocolate-banana mixture were added. As with many of the recipes in this book, finishing salt makes a big difference here. Fleur de sel was sprinkled on the muffins just before they went into the oven, and it works like a spotlight brightening every flavor.
With three eggs and two mashed bananas, the crumb was tender and lovely with nice contrast from the crunchy cacao nibs. There’s a suggestion to serve the muffins with nut butter, and out of journalistic integrity, I felt it necessary to test that concept. It’s a superb idea, but even plain, these muffins were deserving of their name.
Recipe reprinted with publisher's permission from The Sugar Cube.
The world doesn’t need another blueberry muffin. And don’t get me started on bran. But a chocolate muffin moistened with banana purée and sprinkled with sea salt? Hell, yes! These are so moist and tender yet not too sweet, and the cacao nibs add texture and a deeper chocolate flavor. When you have a couple of death-row bananas on your hands, skip the same old banana bread and whip up a batch of these. I adapted the recipe from a great food blog called “80 Breakfasts.” Serve with salted butter or your favorite nut butter, such as fresh almond or peanut.
MAKES 12 MUFFINS
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate (about 3 ounces)
2 large very ripe bananas, pureed
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (1 ounce) cacao nibs
Granulated sugar for sprinklling
Fleur de sel for sprinkling
TIP This also can be made as a lovely dessert. This amount of batter is perfect for a 4-cup mini-Bundt pan. Generously butter the pan. Baking times will vary, so check after 30 minutes; the top should spring back when touched and a knife inserted into the center should come out clean.
PREHEAT THE OVEN to 325°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Put the chopped chocolate in a medium metal bowl and put the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring, until the chocolate is just melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool. Stir in the banana purée.
SIFT TOGETHER THE FLOUR, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl.
IN THE BOWL OF A STAND MIXER fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, cacao nibs, and chocolate-banana mixture and beat just until combined.
DIVIDE THE BATTER equally among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops lightly with granulated sugar and fleur de sel and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan from front to back and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. The tops should look crackled and slightly wet between the cracks. Let cool a bit before serving warm.