Portable, delicious, and generally mess-free, muffins are the perfect treat for an on-the-go breakfast or snack—the key word being “treat.” The issue with regularly indulging in these palm-sized goodies is that they’re typically loaded with refined sugar. Luckily, the talented cooks at America’s Test Kitchen created a delectable muffin with only 8 grams of sugar, compared to the usual 20 grams. The recipe for Banana-Trail Mix Muffins comes from their new book Naturally Sweet: Bake All Your Favorites with 30% to 50% Less Sugar ($16; amazon.com).
“Between the granulated sugar and the concentrated sweetness of the dried fruit, traditional banana-trail mix muffins pack a sugary punch. We hoped that the naturally sweet bananas could not only provide flavor, but also eliminate the need for added sugar,” write the folks at America’s Test Kitchen. “To pack in as much banana flavor as we could, we used six very ripe whole bananas. But once mashed, the bananas added too much moisture and made the muffins soggy and mushy. To prevent this, we microwaved the bananas to encourage them to release excess moisture. Rather than toss the liquid (and the flavor) down the drain, we decided to reduce it to concentrate the sweetness and the banana flavor.” They add, “As for the trail mix, we found that the muffins were plenty sweet without the dried fruit. Instead, we added a combination of chopped walnuts, oats, and sunflower seeds to give the muffins depth, pleasant nuttiness, and a warm, toasted flavor without adding any unwanted grams of sugar. Be sure to use very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas for these muffins. Do not substitute quick oats, instant oats, or steel-cut oats in this recipe.” Honor your body and National Trail Mix Day by whipping up the recipe below.
Banana-Trail Mix Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup (3/4 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
6 large very ripe bananas (2 1/4 lbs), peeled
10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (8 oz) cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400°F. Grease 12-cup muffin tin. Toast walnuts, oats, and sunflower seeds in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until golden and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes; let cool.
2. Place bananas in bowl, cover, and microwave until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer set over bowl and let drain, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes; you should have 3/4 to 1 cup liquid.
3. Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and transfer bananas to now-empty bowl. Cook banana liquid over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Add reduced liquid to bowl with bananas and mash with potato masher until mostly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, and vanilla.
4. In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Using rubber spatula, stir in banana mixture until combined. Fold in walnuts, oats, and sunflower seeds.
5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking.
6. Let muffins cool in tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes before serving.