Kitchen Tips & Tricks: How to Ripen Bananas for Baked Goods in 20 minutes.

Have you ever wanted to make a banana bread, maybe banana muffins, or some other recipe where ripe bananas were required, but the bananas staring back at you from the counter are underripe? And you know it will take daysssss for them to ripen on their own, but you are just wanting/needing to make that recipe TODAY?

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Yeah, me too. It’s quite a predicament to be in. Especially if you are baking for an event. (Or just because you love your family and you know they would appreciate some banana chocolate fudge muffins on a Saturday morning).

So, I turned to my dear friend Google to find a solution, but unfortunately none of them brought about immediate results.

“Put them in a brown paper bag,” they said.

“They’ll ripen quickly,” they said.

And the truth is they’ll ripen faster; as in, maybe you’ll have ripe bananas in 3 days instead of 4.

But sometimes, that’s just. not. fast. enough.

So, here I am, to let you know you CAN have ripe bananas in 20 minutes. The method is surprisingly simple, but effective. All you have to do is lay the bananas on a baking pan like the picture above. Stick ’em in the oven at 325F for 20 minutes.

That’s it.

Are you shocked? I was.

You’ll know they’re ready when they look like this:

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They’ll be suuuuper dark on the outside, but on the inside they’ll be perfectly soft and ready to be mashed and transformed into your baked good of choice. Speaking of which, here are some of my favorites.

Super easy, right? Too-good-to-be-true-(but it is)-kind-of-easy, really.

If your bananas aren’t quite as underripe as the ones I had, you may only need to bake them for 10-15 minutes, depending, Just make sure the peel turns completely black before you take them out.

Happy baking! Let me know what you make!

How to Ripen Bananas for Baked Goods in 20 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • Underripe bananas

1). Pre-heat the oven to 325F.

2). Lay the bananas on a baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes. Let them cool for about 5 minutes before peeling.

Thanks to America’s Test Kitchen for this amazing kitchen trick!

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Easy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

IMG_0810 Good-for-you banana muffins studded with semi-sweet chocolate chips! These muffins are perfect for breakfast, an afternoon snack, or even dessert. These are my usual go-to muffins when I have an abundance of ripe bananas on my counter or in my freezer. IMG_0806 Besides the delicious, sweet flavor and fluffy texture of these muffins, my favorite part about this recipe is that it only requires one bowl! I am always a fan of easy clean up. I LOVE cooking but hate to do a ton of dishes as a result. Many muffin recipes require a separate bowl for wet/dry ingredients, but not this one! IMG_0808 These are muffins you can feel good about. I always use white whole wheat to make these and it does not compromise the texture or flavor at all. There is NO oil or butter in these muffins; the addition of unsweetened applesauce adds moisture with no fat. The chocolate chips are optional…sortof. The muffins are still great without them, but the chocolate adds another dimension of flavor. Last year, I made these muffins before we went skiing with my husband’s parents. I opted to make half with chocolate chips and half without, thinking that since we had to wake up at 4:30am to get to the airport, it might be too early for chocolate. I was w.r.o.n.g.! We all went for the chocolate ones, because, let’s face it, they’re hard to resist. I should have known there is no such thing as “too early for chocolate”! IMG_0812 Easy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins Makes about 15 muffins. Ingredients:

  • 3 large, ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups AP Flour (or white whole wheat!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1). Preheat oven to 350F. Place muffin liners in muffin tin. 2). In a large bowl, mash bananas, then add sugar and slightly beaten egg.  Stir in applesauce and vanilla. 3). Stir in all the dry ingredients until combined, being careful not to overmix. 4). Divide the batter evenly until each muffin cup is at least 3/4 full. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Nutritional information per muffin: Calories: 141 Carbs: 26g Fat: 3g Protein: 2g Sugar: 14g Fiber: 1g Points+:4 Recipe adapted from: http://www.food.com/recipe/easy-banana-muffins-8603 Just for comparison’s sake, here’s what these muffins looked like when I took a picture with my cell phone’s camera. Yikes!! Image

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

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Banana bread has always been my baking nemesis. For whatever reason, I have never been able to bake banana bread successfully. Banana muffins, yes, but not banana bread. Each time my banana bread would turn out under cooked in the middle and burned on top. It still tasted delicious but the texture was completely wrong. What was it about banana bread that was so difficult to master? Why could I make seemingly much more difficult recipes with ease (like homemade pie crusts, for example), but not this particular baked good? After several failed attempts, I decided to write off ever making banana bread. It was the one thing I couldn’t make. Audrey: 0, Banana bread: 1.

I was perfectly content not ever being able to make banana bread until a couple weeks ago. It was a Saturday morning and I had several ripe bananas staring at me, desperately needing to be used. Those bananas, couple with an intriguing find on Pinterest, convinced me to give it one more try. I hoped that I would not end up wasting precious ingredients, but came to terms with the fact that it might happen. I got out my mixing bowls and got to mashing those bananas.

I had a slight panic attack when, after the suggested 45 minutes of baking, the toothpick I used to test the bread did not come out clean. I was certain this would be another one of those recipes to add to my failed banana bread attempts. I checked it after 5 more minutes. Still not done. Finally, 5 minutes later, the toothpick test was successful and I took the golden banana bread out of the oven. It looked amazing, and I had high hopes that it would taste equally good.

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I am so happy to report that it turned out AMAZING. It was perfectly cooked through, not too dense, and full of flavor due to the cinnamon swirl in the middle and the glaze on top. The glaze is certainly not necessary, but it is a wonderful addition! In truth, it makes this recipe fall somewhere in between banana bread and banana cake. Regardless, it’s worth the time and effort!

Now I just might start experimenting with other banana bread recipes!

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

Ingredients:

For the Bread:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, not packed
  • 4 Tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, soften to room temp
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about three bananas)
  • 1/3 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I used vanilla Greek yogurt), or 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Cinnamon Swirl:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbs heavy cream or half-and-half or milk

Directions

1). Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.  Set aside.  In a separate large bowl, use a stand or hand mixer to beat the brown sugar and butter.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Using a spoon or spatula, stir in the mashed bananas, yogurt/buttermilk, and vanilla extract.  Then slowly mix in the dry ingredients with the mix, but be sure to not over mix.

2). Pour half the batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan (will need to adjust cooking time if using a different size).  Mix the cinnamon swirl ingredients together and then pour over the batter in the loaf pan.  Top with the remaining batter.

3). Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes (or for my oven, 55 minutes!) or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let it cool for about ten minutes in the pan on a wire cooling rack, then remove the bread from the pan to let it finish cooling just on the rack.

4). While the bread is cooling, mix the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl.  Add more powdered sugar to reach your desired thickness.  Finally, drizzle the glaze over the bread before enjoying.

Servings: 9 Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 251 Carbs: 41g Fat: 7g Protein: 6g Sugar: 11g Fiber: 4g

WW PointsPlus: 6

Recipe adapted from: http://mckinneyliving.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/cinnamon-swirl-banana-bread/ 

Skinny Blueberry Banana Muffins

IMG_20130525_102801Schools are out and summer is officially here! One of my favorite aspects of summer is all the fresh produce in the grocery store/farmer’s markets, including blueberries! Fresh blueberries are they key to making these muffins great (but frozen blueberries work too…they’re just not as tasty!). Did I mention I can get my husband to eat any fruit if I put it in muffin form? It’s true. Blueberries and bananas would never be tasted, unless baked in muffin or bread form. I used only white whole wheat flour in the batter to add nutrients and give these muffins staying power. They are surprisingly filling!! Each one is around 111 calories and can definitely tie you over until lunch, or be a sweet afternoon snack. I personally enjoyed them on our screen porch with a cup of coffee. Lovely!

IMG_20130525_102627I usually use applesauce as a substitute for oil or butter, but these muffins called for yogurt. Greek yogurt or regular yogurt both work perfectly. Substituting yogurt is a great trick to keep in mind for future baking! It keeps baked goods moist and adds protein without adding fat.

The next time you buy blueberries at the store, save some to make these muffins. They are fantastic!

Skinny Blueberry Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed (or dark brown sugar)
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 2 large very ripe bananas)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt (or any yogurt)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup skim milk (almond milk, soy milk, rice milk)
  • 1 and 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1). Preheat oven to 325F. Line muffin tins with foil liners or spray pan with cooking spray (paper liners will stick!).

2). In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together. Set aside.

3). In a medium bowl, mash the bananas until no longer lumpy. Add honey and mix. Add yogurt, egg, vanilla exctract, and brown sugar. Mix until well combined.

4). Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently fold them all together (it will be very thick!). Slowly add the milk while mixing the batter to thin it out some. Gently fold in the blueberries. Be careful not to overmix the batter.

5). Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full and bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Oven times will vary so keep an eye on them! Transfer them to a wire rack and allow muffins to cool before serving.

Servings: 16.

Nutritional Information per Muffin: Calories: 111 Carbs: 25g Fat: 1g Protein: 3g Sugar: 14g Fiber: 2g

WW PointsPlus: 3 Old Points: 2

Recipe adapted from: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/03/17/skinny-banana-blueberry-muffins/ 

Banana Chocolate Fudge Muffins

These may be some of the best muffins ever! Truthfully, these “muffins” may as well be cupcakes without frosting because they’re so sweet. No oil or butter is used, but there is quite a bit of sugar. They taste so rich and decadent that you would never imagine each one clocks in under 175 calories!

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The banana flavor is almost undetectable here. Muffins are the only way I can get my husband to eat bananas, so I always try to find muffin recipes that call for them. It helps that I always have plenty in the freezer waiting to be used!

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One look at these muffins and you know it has to be chocolate.  The cocoa powder addition elicits the dark brown, almost black, color of the batter, and a sprinkling of chocolate chips ensures that each bite is sweet and chocolate-y.

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I could not believe how light and fluffy the texture was, considering I used half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. I’d like to test it out with all whole wheat flour but I’m afraid it may weigh down the final product too much. Next time I will at least do 3/4 whole wheat and 1/4 all-purpose!

I will definitely be making these again!

Banana Chocolate Fudge Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 very ripe large bananas
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

1). Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until there are no lumps. Add the sugar, egg, and applesauce and mix well.

2). Add the flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder to the wet ingredients. Fold but do not overmix! Evenly divide batter between 15 muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Servings: 15

Nutritional information per Serving: Calories: 173 Fat: 5g Carbs: 33g Protein: 3g Sugar: 21g Fiber: 2g

WW P+: 5 Old points: 3

Recipe adapted from: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/11/11/skinny-chocolate-banana-fudge-muffins/ 

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Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Oh yes, you read that title correctly.

Peanut butter.

Bananas.

AND chocolate chips.

All in one delicious muffin!

Can I tell you what is absolutely delightful about these muffins? Not only is there peanut butter incorporated into the batter, but there is an additional tiny dollop in the middle of each and every muffin. It is a savory little surprise you find as you bite into these fluffy muffins and just really amplifies the peanut butter flavor.

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The peanut butter also increases the staying power of these muffins, making them a great option for a mid-afternoon/morning snack or even breakfast! Do you have a favorite brand of peanut butter? My husband and I both love Smart Balance for the short ingredient list (no oils or sugar!) and flavor. Since that’s what we have in the pantry, that’s what I used. Choose your favorite and go for it!

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The chocolate chips are totally optional. I made these before without them and they still turned out fantastic. My husband made a special request to add them in so I did, but please feel free to leave them out. (Chocolate does make everything better, though…) 🙂

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Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe medium bananas
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat!)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 Tbsp peanut butter (I used Smart Balance), divided into 8 Tbsp for batter and 2 Tbsp for filling.
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (completely optional!)

1). Preheat oven to 325F. Line muffin pan with muffin liners.

2). Mash bananas in a bowl. Set aside.

3). In another bowl, cream butter and sugar together until smooth with an electric mixer. Add egg whites, apple sauce, vanilla extract, and 8 Tbsp of peanut butter. Beat together until thick, scraping down the bowl occasionally.

4). Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix together and fold in chocolate chips. Don’t over mix!

5). Fill muffin pans halfway with batter. Top with a scant 1/2 tsp peanut butter, and add additional batter to fill up the muffin cup. Bake for about 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Servings: 17.

Nutritional Information per serving: Calories: 151 Carbs: 19g Fat: 7g Protein: 4g Sugar: 9g

Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/07/low-fat-peanut-butter-banana-muffins.html