Decadence for Dessert
Several years ago, I would spend far too much time at the Joey’s of South Lake Union drinking belinis and indulging in their cheap happy hour fare, enjoying being an outgoing 20-something. The restaurant has since closed, and I have grown older, and my tastes have matured. But there was one thing on their menu back then that I love and miss – Chocolate Caramel Banana Bread Pudding. It would come ala mode drizzled with more chocolate, caramel, and topped with whipped cream…it was divine.
At one point, missing the dessert, I decided to begin hunting for a way to make it myself. I started by looking for some examples or base recipes that would get me off in the right direction. Low and behold, in my search I came across a double chocolate banana bread recipe on The Savory Sweet Life. No, it wasn’t bread pudding, but the sound of this rich chocolate banana bread sounded like an amazing temporary stand-in and good starting point for the pudding.
My first attempt did not go as planned, though it was still incredibly good. It took much longer for me to bake fully and I found that it was still too moist for slicing. I baked this several more times, along the way converting it into a muffin recipe for the sake of saving on bake time. I also started adding toffee bits and a little bit of booze to push the flavor more towards my missed bread pudding. Finally, I had this moist and decadent chocolate muffin that paired incredibly with ice cream for dessert or packed as an afternoon snack in my purse. There was only one problem with my lovely muffins – they are a whopping 343 calories each.
How do I know that? I put this recipe into the My Fitness Pal app during one of my going-on-a-diet phases and realized that one of these little chocolate bombs was eating up most of my allotted calories and fat! Ok, I know that of course I should have realized that one of these little guys was not going to be at all healthy. But I wasn’t expecting 343 calories. As I reflected on the full weight of this little muffin, I considered what opportunities I might have to improve its fitness.
I finally decided to give this new and improved muffin a shot, hoping that this variation would prove comparable to its richer older sibling. I also baked a batch of the original recipe to have something to compare to. Shortly after I popped the new muffins out of the oven, my husband and I stood in the kitchen for what we felt was a very officially conducted taste test. Each looked similar enough to each other that you would not necessarily know the difference from the outside. Inside, each was very cake like and moist, though the healthier option was much denser from the ingredients used. Taste wise, there were some obvious differences between the two; the original recipe holding out as the richest and most dessert like. However, both my husband and I found the new recipe quite enjoyable and allowed the banana flavor to stand out more. It also felt more substantial as a snack and paired well with our morning coffee. Though we both love the original muffins, the lighter and brighter flavor of the healthier ones provided a more practical option to eat day to day.
I’m sure you’re curious, yes, I put my new recipe into the My Fitness Pal app and see what the damage was. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had reduced the number of calories per muffin by more than 100 calories. I had cut the fat by nearly 75%. There are however other improvements to be made. For example, the sugar is higher than the original recipe. Regardless, I am pretty happy with my healthier recipe and am more likely to be making it again soon versus the original recipe since at this point, both my husband and I are really looking for breakfast and snack foods now that we are working from home.
Included below is both recipes for you to enjoy! And stay tuned for part 2 where I finally turn the original bad boys into some bread pudding for some indulgent dessert.
Double Chocolate Toffee Banana Muffins – Two Ways
- Half of one large ripe avocado, mashed
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons spiced rum, plus 2 more for the dates
- 2 large very ripe bananas mashed
- ½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
- ¾ cups whole wheat flour blended with ¾ cups spelt flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup mini chocolate chips
- 7-8 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- Start by pre-heating your oven to 350°F. Grease the insides of a standard 12x muffin tin.
- In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, pour half the rum over the dates and mix until combined. Set aside.
- Using a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the avocado and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, or until nice and fluffy and green! If you are hoping the muffins will stay green through the bake, they will not. Sorry to disappoint.
- After scraping down the sides of your bowl, one at a time on medium speed, beat in the egg, vanilla, bananas, remaining rum, and non-fat yogurt until just combined.
- Scrape that bowl down again. Then, mixing on low to medium speed, slowly add the flour mixture, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. This batter is going to be a very thick smooth batter at the end.
- Time to scrape the bowl again! Continue mixing for 2 minutes or until the batter looks smooth.
- Prepare to add the mini-chocolate chips and toffee: If you are using a stand mixer, I recommend that you take that bowl in your arms with a spatula or wooden spoon right now and prepare for some minor manual labor. I’m sorry, but this is how I make up for steps and your muffins will be better later for it! If you are already prepping these muffins sans-machine, I’m impressed.
- Now you are ready to fold in* the mini-chocolate chips and the dates (plus their rum), making sure to only mix until the toffee and chocolate chips are well distributed.
- Spoon or pour the batter into the muffin tin so that each muffin cup is about 60-75% of the way full. I generally do not have any leftover batter.
- Bake the muffins for 25 minutes or until a clean butter knife stuck in the middle of the most middle muffin comes out clean of everything but melted chocolate. Be sure it’s melted chocolate and not batter.
- Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for approximately 5-10 minutes before removing the muffins from the pan. You can do this by either gently turning them out or using your trusty butter knife to gently pry them from the pan. Or – at your own risk – you can live in the Danger Zone like I sometimes do and quickly snatch each muffin from its cup with your bare hands before being burned. It’s the little thrills in life.
- Eat muffin. My recommended ways of serving are:
- As is. It is a delicious muffin.
- With some vanilla yogurt!
- Ala Mode
- Whipped Cream
- Though I have not tried it, a thin vanilla custard sauce would be fabulous
*If you are wondering what it means to “fold in” something, I now know that you have not seen Schitt’s Creek, Season 2, Episode 2 as if so you would have already Googled this term. I am also sorry for your loss because the referenced joke is one of the funniest moments in the series.
Make it Rich
Substitute the ingredients as per below and skip step 2. Also, you will not have green batter at any point during the making of your muffins.
|Healthy Recipe||The More Decadent Option|
|Half of one large ripe avocado, mashed||8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature|
|½ cup packed light brown sugar||½ cup granulated sugar|
|2 tablespoons spiced rum, plus 2 more for the dates||2 tablespoons spiced rum|
|½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt||½ cup sour cream|
|¾ cups whole wheat flour blended with ¾ cups spelt flour||1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour|
|7-8 medjool dates, pitted and chopped||½ cup toffee chips|
Warning to pass on
Do not leave the muffins in the pan beyond 15 mins. This was a recommendation from the recipe I based this on. The muffins may stick to the pan if you leave them in longer than 15 mins.
Notes on Bananas
This recipe calls for large bananas, which are in the 7-8” range. Smaller bananas will reduce the moisture content in this already thick batter and may not bake properly. Overly ripe bananas, the kind that are starting to look brown, are the best. You can store your overly ripe bananas in the freezer for future baking. I love doing this because the bananas basically become mush on their own while they thaw. Thaw them on a plate while you prep your other ingredients. Then just unwrap the bananas and transfer to the mixing bowl. No extra mashing step required in the prep.