chocolate banana muffins

Matt + I had a very relaxing weekend – as in, we had absolutely nothing we HAD to do.  Especially after a fun filled week in KC and a pretty much pointless trip downtown on Friday night (I’m still a little crushed about not getting my falafel…).

The best part of having nothing to do over the weekend is that I have plenty of time to create new recipes + bake!  I had 3 perfectly overripe bananas just sitting on my counter waiting to be utilized in one way or another.  I was on a huge banana bread kick back in the beginning of my pregnancy, but since then, I haven’t had the urge to make anything banana related.  I guess I went a little banana overboard at the time and I’m slowly getting that craving back into my system.  (Hopefully I will get my craving for spinach back someday, but as of right now, it is still making me gag.)

I didn’t just want to make any old banana bread though.  So, I decided to make muffins.  But not just any old muffins – chocolate banana muffins!  Since you know a pregnant girl needs her chocolate…
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CHOCOLATE BANANA MUFFINS
Adapted from Kath’s Banana Oat Muffins.  Makes 11-12 muffins.  Kath’s muffins are actually healthy muffins.  These are not nearly as good for you as those, but we all need to a splurge every now and then!

1 tablespoon flax meal + 2 tablespoons water (or 1 egg)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (preferably kosher salt, but I was out)
3 overripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

In a small dish or bowl, combine flax meal and water to form a flax egg.  Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients so that it has time to gel.  Then, go ahead and melt your butter.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mash bananas until smooth.  You can leave some chunks if you like it that way, but I like mine pretty much completely smooth.  Add in sugar and stir to combine.

Take your now gelled flax egg and melted butter and combine together.  Add to banana mixture along with the vanilla extract.  Stir until combined.

Add your wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Fold together until just combined.  DO NOT over mix or your muffins will be tough, and that just doesn’t taste yummy, I promise.

Using a cookie or ice cream scoop (or spoon), dish into individual muffin tins.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the largest muffin comes out clean.

**To make these vegan, sub in Earth Balance Buttery Spread for the butter. It will still turn out perfectly, I promise!

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Oh, but I obviously didn’t stop there.  Chocolate banana muffins are just to simple.  I really wanted a muffin, but a cupcake-like muffin.  So I needed some sort of topping.  At first I was thinking a crumb topping would’ve been great, but then I found a recipe for a cream cheese topping that seemed just perfect atop these muffins.

CREAM CHEESE MUFFIN TOPPING
Slightly adapted from Prepared Pantry.  I halved the recipe so check out the original site for the entire recipe.

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon lime juice (I was out of lemon juice)
1/2 tablespoon flax meal + 1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons sugar

First, prepare your flax egg and set aside for a few minutes until gelled.  Once it has sufficiently gelled, combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well.  This will take a few minutes.  [To make it easier, you can use an electric mixer – I just really didn’t want to dirty another dish!  But, mixing by hand works just as well.]

Before baking the muffins, spread the cream cheese mixture on top of each muffin.  Use as much or as little as you like!  Place muffins in the oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the largest muffin comes out clean.

Let muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove them from the pan and allow them to cool all the way on a wire rack.

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The cream cheese works perfectly with these muffins.  My only regret is that I didn’t put MORE on the top of the muffins!  I actually think next time I might use it as a filling instead of a topper so you get that nice surprise in the middle of eating your muffin.

Like I said, these are an indulgence for me.  The reason I love make muffins is that they are an amazing topping for oatmeal!  Crumble one on top of your oatmeal next time and you will understand.  It definitely makes your breakfast a little more decadent – more like dessert than a wholesome start to your day.  But, combine it with some blueberries and strawberries and you have yourself a delicious, good-for-you-but-decadent meal!

**I forgot to mention this a few weeks ago, but I created a page for all my recipes!  So, if you’re looking for a recipe I’ve made in the past, this should make it a little more convenient for you to find it!**