Up until a few weeks ago, I had never made anything with buckwheat flour. Nor could I even recall enjoying anything made of buckwheat (other than the occasional soba noodle dish). Kind of crazy, right?
I realized this when Alanna posted a recipe for Chocolate Buckwheat Banana Muffins, and I thought to myself, “I wonder what that tastes like with buckwheat flour?” I could kind of imagine it, thinking back to my teenage days of slinging pancakes on the weekends. I remember watching the strange cement-colored buckwheat batter being poured onto the griddle, and then carrying the plate of rich browny-grey pancakes over to their table, noting their nutty smell in the dozen or so steps it would take me to reach my destination. I was curious, but apparently not curious enough to actually try them.
When I mentioned this to Alanna, she also directed me towards another recipe on her blog for Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies. I decided to give those a try, since I am a horribly impatient person, and I need to be in exactly the right mindset at exactly the right time in exactly the right place to stop and look at a bunch of bananas and think, “hmmm, I should buy these and maybe bake something with them in a few days.”
So, I made myself some buckwheat cookies, and they were awesome. I don’t even really know how to describe the flavor, exactly. The buckwheat was nutty and earthy, with an intriguing almost bitter taste to it. But the strangest thing to me was the combination of the buckwheat with the cacao nibs. Together, they evoked the flavor of banana, despite the fact that there were none present in the recipe. I didn’t understand it, but it pretty much convinced me that buckwheat + banana + cacao nibs was a winning combination. And I knew I needed to suck it up and force myself to remember to buy a bunch of perfect yellow bananas, then wait.
Turns out, waiting isn’t that hard when you’re really delusional and you convince yourself that you’ll be toootally up for whipping up a batch of muffins in the evening after a 10-hour day filled with inbox avalanches and discovering random manuscripts on your work shelf that you didn’t even KNOW WERE THERE, that call for proofs due the next day. Oh man, were these bananas READY by the time Saturday rolled around.
I had intended on making Alanna’s recipe, but as I was taking stock of my ingredients, I realized I had none of the other gluten-free flours I needed. (Or maybe I do and they’re in one of those unlabeled jars that I’m so sure I’ll remember the contents of when I put stuff in there. Welcome to my mystery kitchen, where we smell and taste everything, lest we make the mistake of putting cornstarch instead of powdered sugar into a big batch of homemade nutella……again.) So instead, I wound up adapting this banana bread recipe, which I’ve used in the past for banana muffins with excellent results.
End result: Subbing out half of the AP flour for buckwheat yielded some dang delish muffins. I love the buckwheat with the banana, and the cacao nibs bring their awesome texture and bitter chocolatey goodness to the party. I told E to help himself to them if he wanted any, and his response was, “ehh, I don’t really like banana baked goods.” Then he tried one later anyway. At least one has disappeared per day since.
yield: 12 muffins
- 9–12 oz. of high-quality, extra dark chocolate (80% cocoa), roughly chopped
- 3 ripe bananas
- 1/3 cup of butter, melted
- 1 cup of light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- a splash of milk
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- pinch of cloves
- 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup of buckwheat flour
- 3 tablespoons of cacao nibs, plus extra for the top (note: I LOVE cacao nibs. If you don’t feel the same, you might want to dial it back to 2)
Preheat oven to 350°. Mash bananas in a large bowl, then add butter and stir to combine. Mix in sugar, egg, milk, and spices. Add baking soda and flour, and beat until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Line a muffin tin with wrappers. Evenly distribute batter into wrappers, then sprinkle some extra cacao nibs on top. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.