Monday, June 28, 2010

A "Yes" in a Sea of "No"

Being the baker that I am, I'm constantly bringing the product of my kitchen experiments to those around me or sending them away with one of my parents. Usually, the "eaters" I have are more than willing to snack on whatever comes their way, from cookies to cakes, and with few exceptions the only allergies I have to worry about are mine! These days, nut (though not always peanut) free is just a standard practice in my kitchen, excepting what I know my mom will be eating exclusively. Keeping things nutless also opens up the floor for people to take the goodies home to share with others - my chiropractor's son, notably, has extreme nut allergies, so I pay attention to that. However, some of my friends and critics can be a bit more problematic for me to treat - and I always feel badly that the goodies I take to my counsellor J.R. (of a previous brownie mention) can't be shared with his son, who has severe tree nut, peanut, dairy and soy allergies.

But baking without any one of those things can be tricky - much more so when you're talking about all 4 and the client is a typical teenage boy! Baking without nuts, dairy and egg I can (and often do) do handily, even as a combined issue. Most problematic simply because of how common it is as an ingredient in ingredients has to be the soy. No margarine, no shortening, not even most cooking sprays can be on the menu, nor can most chocolate thanks to the soy lecithin, and the tag-team of the soy and milk issues knocks out butter and cream. But no kid should finish off his school year, so often filled with "no foods" at parties, without a treat for a job well done. So I resolved to find a treat that worked for him - and I did in these sugar-crusted muffins that I made with roasted bananas, coconut milk and canola oil. This delicious treat even gets an extra boost from crunchy banana chips! I even went one step further with the recipe and made it eggless, too... not only do I not normally use them for baking around here (they're quite the commodity with the bacon-and-eggs crowd) but it made the recipe safe for everyone in the office.

"Worry-Free" Banana Muffins
Makes 24 muffins, a 9x13" cake, or two 9" layers.
4 large, very ripe bananas, unpeeled
2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp banana extract (optional)
2 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup banana chips, lightly crushed
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease 24 muffin cups, a 9x13" cake pan, or two 9-inch pans.
  2. Place bananas on a lined or greased cookie sheet. Bake 25-30 minutes, until they begin to seep and are very soft. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  4. In a large bowl, mash bananas with vanilla and banana extracts, oil, and brown sugar.
  5. Add dry mixture, followed by the coconut milk, and beat well.
  6. Fold in banana chips.
  7. Bake 15 minutes (muffins), 40 minutes (9x13") or 30 minutes (9"), until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans to finish cooling on a wire rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 143.7
Total Fat: 4.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg 
Sodium: 3.5 mg
Total Carbs: 25.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 2.6 g