Sunday, April 6, 2014

Better-Than-Coffeeshop Strawberry Banana Muffins

I like coffee shops. I tend to hit them up pretty regularly while waiting for my preschooler to finish classes. I walk in to place my order (Skinny Vanilla Latte or Medium Regular), and as always, while waiting for my drink, I eyeball the baked goods... 

Hmmm... brownies, croissants, and coffee cake, oh my! What really gets my attention, however, are those deliciously crusty mile-high sugary muffins flaunting themselves in the display case. "Pick me! Pick me! They all seem to whisper". It doesn't matter if they are chocolate, blueberry, or cinnamon swirl - I want one, and I want one now!

"But wait!", I say to myself. "You just hit the gym and you have to be good! Order Your Skinny-Whatever-coffee and skid-addle before you blow the 600+ calories you busted your butt burning off (while groaning and cursing under your breath) during your Insanity class before you ruin everything!".


But, it wasn't fine. I came home and I still wanted a muffin. So, with a little brain storming to figure out how to at least get a bit of nutritional value to silence my conscience, I came up with these lovely beauties.... Strawberry Banana Muffins made with Greek Yogurt.

Luscious red strawberries mix it up with ripe bananas, all together with hints of vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Bonus: I found out that I can cut the egg out for my egg-sensitive friends, and replace it with more protein packed Greek Yogurt. These muffins make a great after-workout snack! (I keep telling myself that, and I'm sure it's almost at least partly true!)

The basic muffin technique is at work here - add the wet to the dry and mix gently, not totally incorporating the two together, but leaving small clumps of the dry ingredients unmixed. If you mix to a homogeneous batter, you are actually doing this muffin a huge disservice - They will be dense, flat, and generally gross. You want crispy high tops (preferably sprinkled with a bit of raw Turbinado sugar) with cake-like bottoms.

I made a batch of Strawberry Banana Muffins for a recent play date and they were a huge (huge!) hit with both the kids and the grown-ups. Make these for breakfast, a snack, or a handy little meal on the go (they freeze really well!). You won't be missing anything by walking away from the "behind the counter muffins" for these beautiful little baked treats!

Strawberry Banana Muffins with Greek Yogurt
makes 12 "high tops" or about 16 level muffins.

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large (about 1 cup) ripe bananas
1 1/4 cups strawberries
1/2 cup full fat or low fat greek yogurt (I used honey vanilla full fat)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a standard sized muffin tin with your favorite liners. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the stick of butter in 30 second increments until totally melted (you can also melt the butter in a saucepan instead). Allow to cool and reserve.

Mash the bananas in a medium sized bowl and add the vanilla, cooled butter, and yogurt. Mix well.

Wash, dry, and take the tops off of your strawberries. Slice the berries into 1/2 inch pieces. Reserve.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix to combine. Add in the strawberries and stir well, making sure to completely coat the strawberry pieces with the dry mix. This helps the berries avoid sinking to the bottom of the muffin while baking.

Combine the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Stir until just combined. Do not over mix! You still want to see little pockets of dry mix and the "batter" will look lumpy and clumpy. That's ok! Most of us over mix and get hockey puck muffins as a result!

Take a cookie scoop (I like to use a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop) and drop 3 scoops into each muffin tin for tall muffins (they don't really rise because of the lack of egg) or 2 scoops for level muffins. If you aren't using a scoop, just pile high or fill to level for the same results.

For a true knockout coffee shop look- top the muffins with a bit of raw sugar (Turbinado Sugar), before baking!

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a tester toothpick comes out clean from the center of a muffin. Allow them to cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes and then transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

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