Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Miniature muffins and savory waffles...

We're finally back to baking for the Weekly Wednesday Treat Day! I missed doing this while Jeff was on vacation and was anxious to get going again - for this week's treat, we kept it a little lighter and made these miniature Banana Maple-Walnut Muffins.

As is typical for us, I did use a combination of all-purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour to notch up the nutrition factor - feel free to use completely all-purpose though, if desired. If you wanted to experiment some, try swapping out a small portion of the flour for ground flaxseed (try starting small with a couple tablespoons or up to a quarter cup) to add a bit more fiber. To add some warmth in the form of spices, the dry ingredients are enhanced with cinnamon and ginger.

Sweetening these miniature muffins is a combination of rich brown sugar and pure maple syrup for a well-developed background. For the bananas, you'll want to let them get quite ripe, dark and a little squish before you use them - which, by the way, makes Jeff very uneasy. He absolutely can't stand soft bananas and I have caught him many of time trying to toss them out when I'm not looking! Color me confused, since he especially loves their extra sweet flavor when I use them in baking, but whatever... I just try to keep them out from his view so they don't vanish when I'm not looking. I'm sure the muffins would have been just fine as is, but to add a little crunch to the muffins, toasted chopped walnuts are the last addition to the viscus batter. Besides their nutty boost, the walnuts also have the benefit of lending some omega-3's into the muffins!

Yield for these muffins is going to depend on the size of the wells your miniature muffin tin has. I have a 24 cup tin and a 12 cup tin... filling them both about 2/3rds full, see the contrast in size about? The 24 cup tin produce the smaller muffin, which was ready in about 10 minutes, while the 12 cup tin needed roughly 12 minutes to test done. If you would rather do regular-sized muffins, use a 12-cup muffin tin and bake for 18 to 22 minutes instead.

With lots of juice from the bananas, these little guys are decidedly moist, but they are not sticky or gummy on the inside. I loved how the scent of maple pulses through each bite, yet is subtle enough that the banana flavor can bust through and be known. If you absolutely don't like nuts, you could leave them out, but these two-bite treats just might change your mind- we both thought their nutty crunch complimented the banana and maple quite well... much like peanut butter does with marshmallow fluff (go fluffernutters!).

We had one of our favorite types of meals tonight... that's right, breakfast for dinner - woo! I prepared waffles this time, but these were not your sweet, syrup laden waffles you are used to... nope, tonight we had Grilled Cheese-and-Chicken-Sausage Waffles!

Playing off the idea of chicken and waffles, these savory squares actually have the chicken stuffed right inside! Let me start by saying that I had a tricky time with this recipe... once I had gotten the ingredients gathered and measured out, I threw the batter together and thought to myself "boy, this looks pretty soupy to be a waffle batter". Reading through the directions again, it stated "stir to form a stiff batter" - oh really? I double checked to ensure everything we did was correct, and it was, so we opted to follow our instincts and up the flour, along with the baking powder and soda accordingly. I ended up adding an entire cup of flour before it had the consistency I thought would work.

Now that the batter was up to snuff, we finished it up by folding in tiny chunks of cooked chicken sausage and a heavy handful of shredded white cheddar. Since this recipe makes quite a few waffles, be sure to heat the oven to a low 200 degrees - when the waffles are done, just hold them in the warm oven until all are completely cooked. This way, the waffles stay toasty, crisp and everyone can eat at the same time! For ours, we scattered a few extra shreds of additional cheese on top just before serving.

I really didn't know what to expect with these, but I could feel my eyes light up as the piece I cut off rolled around my mouth! Even though I made them, I almost expected these to be somewhat sweet as they still had the visual connection to a regular golden brown waffle. However, the sharp cheese and bites of chicken sausage quickly corrected that idea with its reinforced full savory aspect. Tangy from the buttermilk, these waffles grabbed my attention and didn't let go until I went up and snagged another square from the bunch before finishing my plate. Even with having to add all that extra flour, we didn't find these to by dry or heavy, which makes me wonder even more if there was an error in the recipe, but either way, these fairly unique waffles were an enjoyable way to change up our breakfast-for-dinner night!


  1. Those waffles sound so neat! Chicken sausage sounds like the perfect addition; I think I'd still eat these with the syrup though, there's something very good to be said about maple and sausage :).

  2. My husband doesn't understand that the darker the bananas get the better they are for baking, they can even be black as far as I'm concerned and they're perfect for baking. The waffles sound so darn good, I LOVE breakfast for dinner and so does my family. At the restaurant I work at we serve chicken and waffles every Tues, belgian waffles with chicken on top, and then smothered in gravy.

  3. I'm surprised they didn't seem dry! I think it's just my association of waffles with syrup. Maybe gravy would be good, though....hmm....

  4. Sophie - I didn't try it, but now I want to know how they would be with a drizzle of syrup... hmm!

    Bunny - Hurray for really dark bananas!

    Jen - I know what you mean... I love the idea of adding a savory gravy for this though!

  5. I've made these with both pork breakfast sausage and smoked ham (what I had laying around) and my boyfriend went nuts for them! I freeze them and he just re-heats them in the toaster! He lovesthem with maple syrup.

  6. Anon - We did the same with our leftover waffles... they came out well in the toaster oven!

  7. The waffles sound interesting! I made the muffins today in a regular pan. They took about 20 minutes to bake. I thought they were a bit too sweet with the maple syrup, but my husband and son loved them!

  8. Helen - Glad you got a chance to try them... thanks for the feedback!