High-Rise Banana Muffins

It’s that time of year that I like to clean out my cupboards, pantry and freezer. I pride myself on keeping my baking and cooking equipment organized, but by the end of 2018 everything seemed to be in a tangle.

Inspired by 3 over-ripe bananas discovered in the depths of my freezer it was time to use them up along with a bunch of random paper cupcake liners and near empty containers of spices and extracts. Baking some warm healthy muffins would help me clean things out. And bonus…we get delicious muffins for breakfast.

Today, I bring you a banana muffin that actually tastes like bananas. Tip: bake with over-ripe bananas for the very best flavor. Most muffins I have had in the past are loaded with spices, so they taste more like ginger or cinnamon or chai rather than fresh bananas. While this recipe has a touch of spice the banana flavor and aroma really comes through due to the addition of some banana extract. I love this McCormick brand because it truly does enhance the banana flavor without any weird artificial taste.

You will notice that this recipe starts at a high oven temperature of 425F. before dropping down to 350F. The initial high heat is what gives these muffins the high-rise. As for mixing…you know the drill. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet just until moistened, so they bake up tender. Please feel free to toss in any other healthy ingredients you like. I’m a freak for chia seeds, but some toasted nuts could be good for a bit of crunch

1 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour

½ cup King Arthur white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 over-ripe bananas (frozen and thawed)

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (or 3/4 cup if you like them sweeter)

6 tablespoons coconut or avocado oil

1 egg

2 teaspoons McCormick banana extract

1 tablespoon chia seeds

Heat oven 425F. Line muffin tin with paper liners. In medium bowl, whisk both flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside. Peel thawed bananas over a large bowl, catching any excess liquid. With electric mixer on low mash up the bananas. Add brown sugar, coconut or avocado oil, egg, extract and chia seeds; blend well. Add dry ingredients and blend at low speed just until moistened and batter is smooth. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 5 minutes and then turn down oven to 350F. Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Winner of an Applesauce

 

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This week I am happy to announce that I won third place in the Our Family Garden Applesauce recipe contest. Now, you might not think 3rd place is a big deal, but this contest was such a joy to participate in for so many reasons other than winning.

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First of all this is a real family business headed by a man named Darvin. Everyone including the children are involved in making the best applesauce I have ever eaten. The applesauce, made from a variety of apples, comes unsweetened or with a touch of honey +/or cinnamon. Darvin sent each participating contestant 6 full size jars of his well-made product plus a gift of a jar of jam….just because his is a kind and generous business. I already felt like I won and my recipe testing had not even started, yet.

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Inspired by such kindness and the perfect balance of fresh applesauce sweetness I went on to create 12 new recipes. (These days for most contests I only create 1 or 2 recipes at most.) Truth is this applesauce is so good on its own that it’s almost a crime to transform it into something else, but, my oh my, did it make every recipe I developed taste not only fantastic, but so much healthier to eat. I eliminated sugar and lots of fat without sacrificing any flavor in everything from baked goods to soups to a Korean style BBQ sauce. Win-Win-Win!

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The icing on the cake is that one of my recipe photos was chosen to dress the cover of the cookbook Darvin and his family are putting together. I am just thrilled the family liked my food photography and styling, too.

Here is my winning recipe which was a huge hit at Easter dinner. It’s a healthy carrot cake cupcake makeover utilizing a touch of honey for sweetness and some white whole wheat flour for a wholesome boost in nutrition. Try them for Mother’s Day.

Honey Frosted Carrot Cupcakes

  • Servings: 14
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup all purpose flour

1/3-cup white whole wheat flour

1-teaspoon baking soda

1-teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon fine salt

2 eggs

1/3-cup honey

½ cup canola oil

1-teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2/3-cup Our Family Garden Applesauce Touch of Honey

1 1/3 cups finely grated fresh carrots

Frosting

1 (8 oz) container mascarpone cheese or cream cheese

¼ cup honey

½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 14 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk all purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside. In another large bowl whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Add honey, oil and lemon juice; whisk until slightly thickened. Stir in the applesauce and grated carrots. Add wet ingredients to dry mixture blending until dry ingredients are moistened and well mixed. Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter. Bake about 20 – 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and let cool completely before frosting. For frosting, beat mascarpone, honey and vanilla until well blended. Pipe or spoon the frosting on the top of each cupcake. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate the cupcakes until serving time. Can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.

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My favorite jelly bean and now taste tester in her Easter dress

 

Linzer Tart Scones

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Tender and crumbly scones are hands down one of my favorite treats to bake. I also love a traditional linzer tart cookie with its sweet jam filling and nutty almond crunch. Let’s combine the two and while we are at it make them sugar-free. Perfect with a warm beverage these cinnamon laced triangles with a touch of jam are simply the best. Linzer tart scones are actually a remix of a recipe I have been baking for nearly 30 years with an aim to make them healthier. Small changes like eliminating sugar make a big difference in improved health over time. Selected for the Steviva Blogger Recipe Challenge here is what I did.

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Sugar-free with a big boost of protein from almonds and almond flour these scones get their sweetness from all natural Fructevia. Fructevia looks just like granulated sugar, but with twice the sweetness a little goes a long way. Did you notice how brown these scones are? That’s because fructevia bakes up just like sugar with all the golden goodness. Not only that these scones are tender and flaky with lovely crunchy, crumbly almond bits. What’s not to love about a healthy-full of flavor-jam topped scone? Tender, sweet, flaky, nutty….sounds a lot like me!

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While I loved them warm from the oven the truth is the flavors are even more fantastic the next day. Like a linzer tart the cinnamon, almonds and zest meld together and the jam just sinks into the dough. Unlike other sugar-free sweeteners the Fructeviva leaves no aftertaste. It’s super clean and a total healthy win. Even my brother, the doctor, approves. He explained that using products like Fructevia helps to reduce inflammatory processes on the body.

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Here is the quick drill on mixing up a simple batch of scones. Whisk the dry ingredients together; cut in the butter until crumbly. Then whisk the wet ingredients together.

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Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet in. Blend the two just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Knead the dough 3 or 4 times and pat it into a circle right on the baking sheet. Edge with the almonds and fill a small indent with your favorite sugar-free jam. Raspberry is traditional, but I used blackberry here.

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Linzer Tart Scones

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

½ cup almond flour

1 ½ tablespoons Fructevia

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. grated orange zest

¼ cup cold, unsalted butter

2/3 cup half-and-half

1 egg

2 to 3 teaspoons no sugar added jam or whole fruit preserves

Heat oven to 400ºF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In large bowl, combine flours, fructevia, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and zest; mix well. Using fork or pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In small bowl, combine half-and-half and egg; blend well. Add to flour mixture. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto well-floured surface; knead lightly 4 times. Pat or roll dough into 8” circle on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle edge with almonds. Cut into 8 wedges; do not separate. Make an indentation in each scone with tip of your index finger; fill with ¼ teaspoon of jam. Bake 18-20 minutes or until edges are golden. Cut through scones. Serve warm.

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories 210  
Total Fat 12.4g 16%
Saturated Fat 5.5g 28%
Trans Fat 0g  
Cholesterol 43mg 16%
Sodium 206mg 9%
Potassium 271mg 6%
Total Carb 21.1g 7%
Dietary Fiber 2.3g 8%
Sugars 0.6g  
Protein 5.5g  
Vitamin A 9% · Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 10% · Iron 8%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Thanks Steviva for sharing your products with me. Quite a learning opportunity to know that all natural Fructevia bakes up just like sugar, tastes delicious and will lead me to better health.

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