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I don’t often actively ponder the difference between muffins and cupcakes. However, given their obvious similarities, I am sometimes surprised at the somnambulistic confidence everyone exhibits in telling them apart (everyone except Germans, because here, everything baked in a muffin pan is a muffin, no questions asked, no damn given).

I’m not sure what the Webster’s Dictionary distinction between muffins and cupcakes really is, but I’ve broken it down to this: muffins are the cake you are allowed to eat for breakfast (if you’re into that thing where you lie to yourself) because there’s always something healthy in them. They are also usually bigger than cupcakes, there’s topping or some icing rather than frosting on them, and they are somehow not as dainty and smooth as cupcakes are. They’re gritty and real. You can take them to picnics and on car-rides and munch away at them for a while. Cupcakes, on the other hand, are dessert. Decadent, fattening, and gone in two bites.

So, these here are definitely muffins since they’re basically fruit – I mean, there’s cherries and bananas in them! You could totally get away with eating them for breakfast. And you should.

Banana Cherry Chocolate Chip Muffins with Brown Sugar Streusel

I’m including a couple of tips with this recipe, especially on minimizing your dirty dishes, in case you, like me, don’t currently own a dishwasher and h a t e doing the dishes.

I have got this particular process down to the following tools: 1 bowl, 1 fork, 1 spatula, 2 measuring cups (1/4 & 1/2 cup), 3 measuring spoons (1/4, 1/2 & 1 tsp).

Why yes, I believe I am a bit pedantic about dirty dishes. Thank you for asking.

For the muffins:

1 egg

1/2 cup canola oil

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I always just eyeball the vanilla extract. You can hardly have too much, after all. This way, I didn’t have to wash the measuring spoon before using it for the baking powder *mwaahahahahaaa*)

3 ripe bananas

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (I used the 1/4 cup measure to measure this)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips (I used the 1/2 cup measure to measure this)

1/2 cup dried montmorency cherries (but I bet other cherries would work just as well)

For the streusel:

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 tablespoons butter

Combine ingredients into delicious muffins:

Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C, place a baking tray in the middle of the oven.

I read somewhere that all goods baked in pans (or muffin tins) should be placed on a tray rather than a rack in the oven, to ensure more even baking and non-soggy bottoms. I have heeded this advice ever since and my bottoms are nicely bone-dry. (Aren’t you relieved to hear that?)

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. That way chances are you won’t have to scrub the muffin tin afterwards.

To prepare muffin batter:

In a medium bowl, mix egg, oil, white sugar, and vanilla extract. Break bananas in 2-inch pieces, add to the mix and give them a good mash until they’re fully incorporated. Next, dump the flour, baking p0wder, baking soda, and salt right into that same bowl, carefully stir the dry ingredients around a bit before quickly folding them into the wet ingredients with a spatula. Don’t overmix.

I almost always mix batters this way, and I have never had a problem with the distribution of the leavening agents.

Fold in chocolate chips and cherries.

If you like smaller cherry pieces, you can chop the cherries before adding them. I didn’t because that would mean using a chopping board and knife.

Use one of your measuring cups (1/4 cup, e.g.) to distribute the batter evenly between the muffin cups.

To prepare streusel mix:

Blend together brown sugar and flour in the same bowl to minimize dirty dishes. Use your fingers to blend in the butter. Mine came right from the fridge and gave me no trouble whatsoever. When the mixture has a coarse, crumbly texture, heap a teaspoon or so in the middle of each muffin.

 I used my fingers for this, not an additional teaspoon. Dishes!

Bake for 21-23 minutes. These are almost impossible to test for doneness with a wooden skewer, because they’re so jam-packed with chocolate chips. Well, do your best and take them out when the tops look adequately brown and crunchy and heavenly.

Let muffins cool in the pan for about five minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

On second thought: Don’t let these cool completely. They’re divine still warm right out of the oven.

And because these are unadorned and real, as muffins are, you don’t need to put them on plates or eat them with forks. Your fingers are washed much more quickly than the dishes. Just sayin’.

I stored these in an airtight container overnight, but I think it’s better to let them get some air to retain more of their crunch. So go ahead and simply store them covered on the counter for up to two days.

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