Banana muffins: the muffin of forgotten bananas. Nobody buys bananas with the sole intention of letting their peels become black just so they can make banana muffins or banana bread. But no longer. Next time I buy bananas, I fully intend to forget to eat even a single one just so I can make these muffins. The wait will be agonizing. Days will tick by like milliseconds. Green-tinted ends will give way to delicate brown freckles, then to larger brown patches, and finally to shiny, near-black perfection. Perfect, not to eat out-of-peel, but to provide the flavor base for these intensely flavorful, delicately moist, perfectly spiced little morsels of ultimate banana-ness.
That may be the most dramatic paragraph I’ve ever written about food. But: accurate. And worth it. These muffins are the best banana muffins I have ever tasted, and certainly the best I’ve ever made in my own kitchen. I don’t mean to oversell this recipe, of course. After all, you probably have a favorite banana bread or muffin recipe. But please, next time you have a lonely, sad, forgotten bunch of bananas lying around…make these.
I made mini-muffins because I only had enough bananas for half a batch, and I wanted to extend the life of my muffins. Unfortunately that didn’t work out as I’d hoped—they were gone in two days. They’re perfectly spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and—the real standout—cardamom. But what’s really the star of these muffins is the intense banana flavor. I don’t count banana among my favorite flavors, but I definitely hadn’t experienced banana flavor like this before. The bananas are microwaved to release their juice (who knew?), and then the liquid is cooked down and reduced by half before being added into the batter.
Sour cream makes the crumb light and moist, and a mix of brown sugar and vanilla bean sugar create a delicate sweetness with a little somethin’ extra that you can’t put your finger on at first. And on top of that, I added chopped pecans into the batter for a nice textural contrast and that toasty pecan flavor. I easily made three varieties with simple toppings (or lack thereof): plain, sprinkled with just a few chocolate chips, and my favorite, topped with a single pecan half. Let’s make some muffins.
First, microwave your bananas for 2 to 5 minutes until they’re super soft and have released their juice. I’d never microwaved bananas before. Things got weird. But it was worth it.
Transfer the cooked bananas to a fine strainer over a small saucepan and gently mash with a fork until you’ve gotten all the liquid you can out of the bananas. Set the bananas aside and cook the liquid over medium heat until reduced by half. I’d also like to point out that at this point, I literally melted my beloved kitchen scale by putting it on a hot burner. I thought to myself, “What’s that smell?” Oh, nothing. JUST MELTING PLASTIC AND BURNED METAL. Ugh. So, so stupid. But I digress.
While that’s happening, combine your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. White whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Beat together your butter, brown sugar, and vanilla bean sugar (if you don’t have this, don’t sweat it—just use all brown sugar) until light and fluffy. Then beat in your vanilla and eggs until well combined.
Mix together your bananas, banana liquid, and sour cream. Add to the butter mixture and mix until well combined.
Fold in your chopped pecans (if you’re using them. Feel free to omit, of course).
Scoop into prepared mini-muffin tins, muffin tins, or mini loaf pans, and bake (about 15 minutes for mini muffins, 30 for regular muffins or mini-loaves). My half-batch got 19 mini-muffins. If you’re making a full batch, expect about 10 regular muffins, 9 mini loaves, or perhaps 3-dozen-ish mini-muffins. As you can see, I topped six with a single pecan half each, six with four chocolate chips, and left the rest alone. All were delicious but I looooved the pecan-topped ones; so toasty and the flavors were just perfect.
The flavor of these muffins is even better after a day of resting. If they last that long. Enjoy!
Best Banana Muffins
Adapted from Kitchen Heals Soul
Yield approximately 3 dozen mini-muffins, 10 muffins, or 9 mini-loaves
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 very ripe bananas, peeled
- 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vanilla bean sugar (or brown sugar)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- For topping (optional): pecan halves, chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare muffin cups, mini-muffin cups, or mini loaf pans.
- Place the bananas in a glass bowl and microwave them for 2 to 5 minutes to allow them to heat up and release their liquid. Transfer the bananas/liquid to a fine strainer, and strain the liquid into a small saucepan, gently mashing the bananas a little with a fork. Cook down the liquid over medium heat until it is reduced by half. Add back the bananas and let the mixture cool for later.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated.
- Add the dry ingredients with the mixer on low, alternating with the sour cream and banana mixture, beginning and ending with the dry, mixing until just combined.
- Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups or loaf pans.
- Bake the mixture for about 15 minutes for mini-muffins or 30 minutes for regular muffins or mini-loaves, or until a cake tester poked through the middle of a cake comes out clean.
*Based on my yield of 38 mini-muffins per batch; stats are for 1 mini-muffin with no toppings