Baking & Dessert

By Tara O'Keeffe | February 10, 2011

Photo: wenzday01

When life gives you old bananas, make banana muffins!

Whenever I have produce that is on the verge of going bad I think, how can I use this to make something delicious?  I try not to waste food.  Not only is it a waste of money, but it’s harmful for our environment.  It’s often when I’m faced with old produce that I come up with fun, new recipes.

This week’s challenge was a bunch of bananas that were past their prime-black and mushy-exactly the kind of bananas you’d avoid at the market. The wonderful thing about old bananas is that they make the best banana bread! I love banana bread, and have made the standard quickbread many times, but this time I wanted to make something different and more exciting.

Salty caramel meets moist and sweet bananas in this delicious take on an old-time favorite. Instead of the usual loaf pan I chose muffin tins for an easy to enjoy (and easy to share) treat, with salted caramel sauce inside and drizzled on top, creating the perfect flavor combination.

If you need an excuse to stay inside this weekend and bake up a storm, the scent from the baking muffins more than convinces.

Photo: Tara O’Keeffe

Don’t have overripe bananas? Pick up the ripest ones you can find at the store, place them in a brown bag alongside an apple, and store in the refrigerator overnight to speed up the process.

Salted Caramel Banana Muffins Recipe

Servings: makes 12 regularly-sized muffins

Ingredients

Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp fleur de sel(fine sea salt)
Muffins
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups smashed banana(about 4 medium-size bananas)
  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Salted caramel sauce

Directions

For the salted caramel sauce:

Add sugar to a medium nonstick saucepan and place over medium heat. Allow the sugar to slowly melt, without stirring, until it begins to bubble. When bubbling, keep a close eye on the pot and remove from heat as soon as it turns golden.
Carefully pour in cream (it will bubble up fast so wear an oven mitt if possible) and whisk vigorously until smooth. Add salt and stir to incorporate. Reserve on stovetop for later use.

For the Muffins:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your muffin pan by spraying amply with nonstick cooking spray.
*Cupcake liners can be used as an alternative to ensure perfect removal from pan.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer) cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated. Add the vanilla and bananas and mix until just incorporated.

3. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix using a rubber spatula, being careful not to overwork the batter.
Spoon batter into muffin tins so it comes up 1/3 of the way. Drizzle a teaspoon of the salted caramel sauce in the center, trying to keep it away from the edge to prevent burning during baking. Spoon another layer of batter on top so each tin is 2/3 of the way full.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the muffins are golden and a cake tester comes out of the center clean.

5. Let cool on a wire rack until room temperature. Run a palate knife around the side of each tin to help loosen, then flip over to release the muffins. If it appears they are sticking, run the knife around one more time, getting underneath to help loosen them.

6. Using a small spoon, drizzle the salted caramel sauce on top.

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