March 12, 2013

Banana chocolate chip muffins - chiffon style

These muffins are a great little sweet treat for the morning or any time of day.  A cross between muffin and chiffon cake, they are not very sweet and a bit like a lightened up banana muffin.  Chocolate chips complement the banana flavor and add a nice richness.
I wanted to try this recipe because I adore a good banana muffin and anything with chocolate (this banana bread is the perfect example of that greatness)!  A recipe that starts off that way is bound to be good.  But the thing that really intrigued me was the chiffon cake slant to these because chiffon cake is one of my favorite everyday cakes to eat!

Originally, this recipe makes banana chocolate chip cupcakes.  The line between cupcakes and muffins can be blurry but I think it's fair to call these muffins because I've omitted the original chocolate cream cheese frosting from them.  And like other muffin or quick bread batters, most of the ingredients are simply combined together in a bowl.  To get the airy, signature chiffon cake texture, you do whip egg whites separately and fold it into the batter.  That extra effort gives you a fluffy chiffon cake-muffin, with all the delicious banana muffin fragrance and flavor you're used to.
The recipe comes from the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.  If you watch Paula Deen, you might be familiar with this bakery and its owners based in Savannah.  I really like the visuals, the layout, of this cookbook.  It has a clean, easy-to-read, retro yet contemporary feel to it.

These muffins have less sugar in them than many other banana muffin recipes and not a lot of oil either (though the result is still moist yet light).  I like them just like that, as a breakfast sweet or a mid-afternoon or even after dinner treat.

The chocolate chips add another great flavor and a little texture without needing frosting, in my opinion.  I used mini chocolate chips so that there's a bit in every bite.  I also did that because of how well they work in the double chocolate muffins I discovered a few months ago (those muffins are sooo good and easy to make; I've been making them whenever we want a simple chocolate cake fix).

There's only one problem with these banana chiffon muffins: they taste so light, you can easily put away 2 or 3 at a time!  It's a good thing the full recipe makes 2 dozen.  I divided the recipe in half but the three of us had no problems polishing off our dozen in no time.  I was good and only had one per sitting.  I cannot say the same for my husband.

For these chiffon cake based muffins, we use the more delicate cake flour.  Most of the ingredients are combined together in a large mixing bowl, with the added step of incorporating egg whites at the end to lighten up the texture of the whole thing.  

The recipe calls for a little cream of tartar but you should have no problems whipping the egg whites to nice glossy stiff peaks with the sugar alone.  The chocolate chips go in at the end, too.  Since we're omitting the frosting, you might want to go a little heavy-handed on the chocolate chips!
You'll notice the actual recipe (below) makes a generous 2 dozen muffins.  I divided the recipe in half, a little tricky given the need to work with half an egg white but absolutely do-able.  I filled my muffin cups closer to three-quarters as opposed to two-thirds full and I'm glad I did because they puffed up with a nice round dome and there were no spillovers.  Mine were done right at the 20 minute mark so check early.  Unfortunately, you do not get a crusty/crunchy muffin top with these.
One last thing: If you take a close look, you'll see I used foil and white paper liners for these muffins.  Do you know how the Reynolds foil liners come with these white paper liners that separate each of them?  I always threw the paper ones out thinking they were just dividers.  One day, as my supply of cupcake liners started dwindling, I wondered about that... Turns out, those white "dividers" are just paper liners, the same kind that you buy separately in pastel colors!!  Maybe I'm the last person to realize this but I know there'll be no more wasted liners in my house from now on! 


Banana Chocolate-Chip Chiffon Muffins

- Makes 24 standard-size muffins -

2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 large egg white
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (from about 2 1/2 large bananas)
Rounded 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I use the miniature kind by Ghirardelli)

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line standard size cupcake/muffin tins with 24 liners. 

In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Give it a whisk to combine and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar (if using) until frothy.  Gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, a little at a time, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.  It should look like a glossy meringue.  Set aside.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.  Add half of the buttermilk, the oil, vanilla, and mashed bananas and stir together for 1-2 minutes, until ingredients are thoroughly combined (I used a wooden spoon).  Add the egg yolks and the rest of the buttermilk, stirring until just combined.  Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped egg whites and then the chocolate chips.

With a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them each about two-thirds to three-quarters full.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean (there will be some melted chocolate on the tester from the chips).  

Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes before transferring the muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Store cooled muffins in an airtight container at room temperature.  In my experience, they were still moist after 3 days.   


  1. I have the Back in the Day cookbook - thanks for the pics and the post b/c now I have to make these! They look great!

  2. I love your chiffon version of banana muffins. I've always enjoy the fluffiness from cakes and muffins better than a dense one. :) Can't wait to give these a try.

  3. Hi Averie - I really like the layout of the cookbook! I hope you do try these...without the frosting, they are really light. I could easily eat a couple in one sitting! I can see you incorporating some PB to the recipe...maybe in a frosting? ;)

    Thanks for stopping by, Amy! I love a good chiffon cake. The America's Test Kitchen recipe has not failed me once yet and it was the idea of that cake that made me want to try these muffins.

  4. Thanks for telling me about this recipe. I have the cookbook too but must have accidentally glossed over this page! I'll have to make these soon.

  5. This is a great light and fluffy muffin as a nice change from the usual heavy stuff. I also use the America's Test Kitchen Cookbooks. Though I sometimes find there recipes to be step and time intensive, there is always a reason for it and the results seem guaranteed. :)

  6. Hi Eva - the recipe is for Banana Chocolate Chip *Cupcakes* in the book. I took away the chocolate cream cheese frosting and called it a muffin because it's really relatively light and more like a muffin to me.

    Wendy, these are really neat because of the chiffon cake base. It makes them really light and they're not too sweet. I'm a fan of ATK too but I stick with the simple recipes. : )

  7. Wonderful muffin recipe! They look very fluffy and light which I really like. I always have ripe banana's so I will be sure to try these out sometime soon, thanks for sharing!

  8. Natalie, I always have bananas around the house too so I'm easily tempted by banana recipes!

  9. I adore the combination of banana and chocolate together. I want that cookbook! These look so wonderful and a perfect way to start the day.

  10. Yes, chocolate and banana are so good togeher. I make Molly's (from Orangette) chocolate chip banana bread and it's my favorite as far as banana bread goes. My husband is a huge fan of it.

  11. i haven't tried these yet!! And that Back in the day Bakery book...LOVE that book. Same as you, i love the look of it, and the retro-yet-contemporary feel to it. And every recipe i've tried out of that cookbook (and i've tried quite a few by now) has been excellent, which is always awesome. I love how your muffins look! So perfect for right now.

  12. I really didn't expect to like the book so much but I love the clean layout and colors. And I quickly got the sense from reading it that the recipes were "legit"...not really sure what gave me that impression but the feeling was definitely there. Glad to hear so many recipes really work!

  13. I love chiffon cake so these sound awesome to me! Great way to lighten up a typically fatty and heavy muffin :)

  14. I love that there are so many of us chiffon cake fans!

  15. Hi Monica! Nice to meet you - thanks for visiting my blog! Ohhh "chiffon" already suggest how fully this texture is. Love the fact that it's more like muffins than cupcakes as I prefer less sugary treat like this. :) Looks delicious~~!

  16. Hi Nami! Thanks for stopping by! I can't wait to try your Japanese recipes...I've learned a few things from your blog already. : )

    You might have a recipe already but I think you would like this chiffon cake:



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