Probably the bananas are not from Jamaica at all, but I thought I read that those tiny red bananas we get in the Bay Area are called Jamaican bananas — among other things. They are pretty much the only other kind of banana besides the big, mealy yellow Cavandish we are offered.
People wax rhapsodic about the tiny bananas (I call them “hand bananas” but that’s probably because of this disgusting Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode — not for the faint of heart) but nobody else does. People say these wee bananas taste of raspberry. They do, but only if you know that in advance. It’s true they have a much more delicate sweetness and fruitier, more interesting flavor than the big yellow guys and they put up with much more abuse before turning on you. They can be bruised and battered on the outside and the fruit will remain delicately sweet and lovely to eat.
I have been experimenting with baking with less sugar and incorporating foods that are good for me in particular (or for your liver) such as molasses and millet. I discovered that molasses can be a hassle because it burns fast. The recipe below isn’t exactly low sugar because I got chicken at the last minute and added a whole cup, but after tasting it, I am confident you could use a half cup of sugar or less and it would still be a terrific muffin. It begs the question: Can a muffin be too chocolatey? And you can’t even taste the millet, except as a slight additional crunch along with the nuts.
Chocolate Walnut Jamaican Banana Molasses Millet Muffins (dairy-free)
3 overripe small red bananas or one big one
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons of millet
1/4 cup of Craisins or raisins (optional)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
One stick of Earth Balance (room temperature but not melted)
1/2 cup white sugar (you could easily skip this as the molasses is very sweet)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 pinch sea salt
1 cup walnuts
1 cup dark chocolate chips (check to see if they are vegan — most good dark chocolate chips are)
Preheat the oven to 350.
Mix the first five ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Make sure your bananas are mashed well. Cream the Earth Balance and sugars in a big bowl, which means beating them until they are smoothly incorporated and creamy.
Beat in eggs.
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the big bowl in three segments, alternating with the mashed banana mixture. Measure your walnuts in the measuring cup you used for the fl0ur and add those next to last, followed by the chocolate chips.
Pour in a no-stick muffin tin or line your tin with muffin cups. Because of the molasses, this muffin sticks — so don’t try just flouring and greasing a regular tin. You will come to grief this way. Bake about 20 – 25 minutes until a toothpick to the center of the muffin comes out semi-clean and the tops are dark. Again — this muffin burns fast so keep a sharp eye out. Normally, you need the toothpick to be entirely clean but the chips melt and this muffin is the opposite of dry inside!