Monday, June 4, 2012

Caramel Banana Muffins

Polls are funny things. One of the very best classes I took in college was a survey class. Our patient professor taught us to write a survey, conduct the survey, and then interpret the results. It was a statistics class so at the end, we got to play with the numbers.

It was an interactive class, and I always learn so much more when I do things hands on. There are so many ways to interpret questions and responses. And even more ways to tweak the results if you've been clever enough to slant the questions! I have to admit that I've been skeptical of surveys ever since that class. Maybe that was the point!

For instance, in our survey, 17 people voted for healthy recipes and 18 people voted for desserts. I'm willing to bet that some of those votes came from the same people. After all, they're not mutually exclusive. Eating healthy doesn't mean you can't eat dessert. At least that's my theory, and I'm clinging to it!

Thanks to everyone who voted and also to those who left comments. We'll talk about the results as a group but, if I were to look into a crystal ball, I'd bet you were going to see more theme weeks, quick fix recipes, and some cookbook recommendations. And I appreciated the suggestions about make-ahead and low-carb recipes. Great ideas!

Here are the final results.

recipes with stories from authors' lives
  38 (80%)
trendy recipes
  7 (14%)
healthy recipes
  17 (36%)
meatless main courses
  13 (27%)
  18 (38%)
recipes with unusual ingredients
  8 (17%)
easier recipes
  18 (38%)
more complex recipes
  8 (17%)
quick fix recipes
  25 (53%)
theme weeks (holidays, barbecue, etc.)
  26 (55%)
  18 (38%)
reader's recipes
  12 (25%)
beverage recipes
  8 (17%)
mixed drinks
  6 (12%)
cake recipes
  9 (19%)
chocolate recipes
  15 (31%)
low calorie recipes
  12 (25%)
cookbook recommendations
  19 (40%)
please see comments
   3 (6%)

As it happens, The Diva Digs up the Dirt will be released tomorrow. This time Wolf is in big trouble. Poor Sophie had planned a relaxing stay-cation at home, but, as usual, Natasha manages to ruin that!

When I was writing the book, I stumbled across a recipe for Caramel Banana Muffins, but the ingredients didn't appeal to me. Still, I couldn't shake the sinfully delicious thought of ooey-gooey, sweet caramel on banana muffins. So I played around with walnuts a little bit and came up with this recipe, which is my official favorite breakfast (or anytime) muffin now -- even without the caramel. They're moist, thanks to the bananas, but there's no crunch because the walnuts are basically ground into flour.

Don't spread it around, but I've found myself buying extra bananas so I'll have some that look icky and have to be used up. This recipe even passes the picky eater test!

If you bake the muffins in advance, don't put the sliced bananas and caramel on top until just before serving. Or you could eat them plain, because they're great that way, too.

Caramel Banana Muffins

½ cup butter
1 cup walnuts
1 cup flour
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping below – optional.

Preheat oven to 350. Melt the butter, and set it aside to cool. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a food processor, mix the walnuts with the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pulse until fine. Set aside.

Mash the bananas in a large bowl with a fork. Add the cooled butter and vanilla and mix.

Whisk the eggs for one to two minutes, then mix them into the butter and banana mixture. Pour the flour mixture on top and fold with a spatula. Do not overmix!

Spoon into the cupcake liners, distributing evenly among cupcake liners. Bake 23–25 minutes or until the muffins are a light golden brown on top.

Makes 12 – 16 muffins.


Per 3-4 muffins --

1 to 2 bananas
3 Kraft Caramels
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Place the caramels and the cream in a small microwave-safe bowl or cup. Microwave for 20 seconds, then for 10 seconds, checking to see if the caramels have melted. Stir. Slice the bananas, and place two to three slices of fresh banana on top of each muffin. Top with caramel.

Note: three caramels and one tablespoon cream make enough sauce for three to four muffins. For more, simply double or triple the amounts.



  1. Oh wow, I need to make those. Yum!

    1. I hope you like them as much as I do!


  2. OH BOY a new BOOK! COngrats all to heck!

    I am a bit late to this party, but too late, feel free to have it in the back of your mind that (to me), blogs are all about personalities. I can read about any cookbook for recipes. i want to read details about what your family thinks, how you added/changed or dropped ingredients to fit into today's slice of your life. Bananas on sale, head to this recipe... SOmeone on a diet, make the caramel sauce separate to add on the side.

    And glimpses into the life of a publishing author is most of the reason I come to the MLK.

    And of course, as they say, there are "Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics" so feel free to weigh my opinion much heavier than all the other opinions.

    Occasionally Year on the Grill but mostly

    1. ROFL! I love that quote! How funny, Dave! Thanks for your feedback. 80% of our readers agree with you. They want to know about the recipes in our lives. Okay -- I baked 4 kinds of cupcakes last weekend! LOL!

      Thanks for the congrats on the new book. I'm crossing my fingers that readers will like it.

      ~ Krista

  3. Krista - I'm with Lisa! Those muffins look amazing. They're the perfect treat for your new book's release week. Big congrats on THE DIVA DIGS UP THE DIRT (love the title!) officially hitting store shelves! Woot! (More from me tomorrow... :))

    Dave - "Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics" - XD. Enjoyed your comment and (as always) great to see you in our ML Kitchen.

    1. Thanks so much, Cleo. It's always a little scary when a new book is released.

      I have a feeling you and Marc will love these muffins.

      ~ Krista

  4. The pictures of these muffins are too enticing! Why do I only have green bananas???

    1. Oh no! Um, maybe if you put them in the trunk of your car? The heat would probably speed up the ripening process. ; ) But they'll taste just as good later this week when the bananas are ripe.

      ~ Krista

  5. Krista, interesting results re: the survey! I'll be sure to start stocking up names of good cookbooks. I've been doing a lot of research. :)

    This recipe does look ooey-gooey good! Yum. Love caramel.

    And re: your new book, well, I can't wait to find out what's up with Sophie and Wolf! So excited! Woo-hoo.

    ~Avery aka Daryl

  6. Thanks, Avery! I bet these muffins would work with a gluten free flour. Hmm, I ought to try sometime. They're just so banana-y.

    ~ Krista