Muffins + Scones

banana-chocolate-coffee muffins with whole wheat flour

banana-chocolate-coffee muffins with whole wheat flour | the vanilla bean blog
I just got the notice, school is closed again due to cold weather. This never happens here in Minnesota, where we complain about the weather always but secretly pride ourselves in surviving it every winter. We are so strong, we can bike through blizzards! My daughter’s face will light up in the morning when she hears the news: you get to stay home yet again. She likes school just fine, but she loves home so much more.

And I like home so much more, too; I enjoy days tucked snug in our little house. But there are moments where the walls feel a bit too close together, and we are bumping into each other all day long, snippy and snappy and dreaming of oceans. We pull out mixing bowls and curl up with the same old books; there becomes less and less to say to each other.

‘Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.’ (The Little Prince)
banana-chocolate-coffee muffins with whole wheat flour | the vanilla bean blog
I risk winter every year outwardly, but it’s taken me many years to begin to take a chance with it otherwise. I tend to fight it at first, but once January has set in, I usually decide to take the plunge. There is snow that muffles all sounds except a mind that won’t quiet, and a moon that seems to burn straight through frosted windows, it’s light cutting through skin and bone. There’s a wind so cold and clear it keeps the senses alive and awake through the darkest of nights. I breathe deep and rush in to ice and dark, and the hope of spring waiting for me, nearby.

A few things:

-Chris Pratt’s Ode To Jean Claude Van Damme (deleted Parks and Rec scene)

-‘My smart little sister says that people are wrong when they talk about how you need to be brave to get out of your comfort zone, travel, and see things. The travel and perspective–the escapism, really–are a privilege. The real courage is needed at home, where the ordinary things don’t change unless you work to make them so, where you face old demons and new challenges, and where you can’t just get on a plane to the next destination.’ –The Yellow House

-I love Izy’s photographs.

-I was terribly excited to find myself on the Food & Wine blog last week. Also, some talk about books + food + other such things over on Paper/Plates.

banana-chocolate-coffee muffins | the vanilla bean blog
Banana-Chocolate-Coffee Muffins with Whole Wheat

You can, of course, mix things up – if you’re wary about using all whole wheat flour in a muffin, you could substitute some white. This will make 20-22 muffins. I’ve made banana-cacao nib muffins before, so if you’re looking for a non-whole wheat version (with a bit more sugar), they are here. These are also a variation on my Whole Wheat Pumpkin-Chocolate Muffins. The batter for these muffins is rather wet – but don’t worry, they bake up just fine.

2 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup canola or olive oil
1 cup banana mashed, plus 1 cup diced
1/4 cup strong coffee, room temperature
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cacao nibs
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line a muffin tin, and part of another.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together, and make a well in the center. Combine the oil, milk, mashed banana, coffee, vanilla, maple syrup, sugar, and egg. Whisk the wet ingredients together and pour over the dry ingredients. Stir the ingredients together until almost mixed [there will be a few dry streaks]. Add diced banana, cacao nibs, and chocolate and finish mixing until just combined, being careful not to over mix. [Remember, lumpy is good!]

Scoop the batter into the prepared pans, filling the muffin cup about two-thirds full. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake until the muffin edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out with the very tiniest bit of crumb, 16-20 minutes.
banana-chocolate-coffee muffins with whole wheat flour | the vanilla bean blog

  • Reply
    Jo-Ann R.
    Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 10:03 am

    I tried your recipe last night. It was delicious! The muffin was moist, chocolaty, and bananalicious. I’d never heard of cocoa nibs until I read this recipe on your blog. After tasting the muffins, I realized they took the place of using walnuts and added crunch and nuttiness without tasting as bitter. I love this recipe and will be making more of these gems! Thank you for sharing this!

    • Reply
      Monday, December 29, 2014 at 9:45 am

      Hi Jo-Ann, Thanks so much for letting me know – I’m so glad you liked the muffins! And, I’m so glad to introduce you to cocoa nibs. I love baking with them. Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Ambiguous wholemeal flour quantity…2 1/3 cup flour…is that 1/3 twice or 2 and 1/3?? I think you should be more specific…I am not used to American measurements here in the UK and my muffins got ruined as I didn’t put enough flour ;( …a waste of my time and resources.
    The recipe sounds yummy and will definitely try it again, but please make sure the measurements are well explained.

    • Reply
      Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      Hi Raquel, I’m sorry you had trouble with the recipe. 2 1/3 cup is a specific American measurement – It is 2 cups and 1/3 cup. Twice 1/3 cup would be written 2/3 cups. Most my recipes do not have gram measurements – I am not trying to exclude my overseas readers, but I haven’t had the extra time to go back and calculate the gram measurements for each recipe. I have two little children that keep me very busy! So any extra time at this point is spent with them. Including gram measurements is on my list of to-do things, however! In the meantime, there are quite a few websites that will change American measurements (ounces, cups) to gram measurements (for instance here: ) and vice versa. I hope that helps! -Sarah

      • Reply
        Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 11:28 am

        Thank you so much for your reply Sarah and also for the link to the conversion website. I do appreciate that American measurements are different so I now have a set of measurement cups that will do the conversion job easier 😉
        I have to say that I tried your recipe again today and turned up lovely! I have used coconut palm sugar and Agave syrup instead as I am pregnant and trying to cut down on sugar.
        Thank you for sharing such a a nice recipe. Raquel.

  • Reply
    Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 9:12 am

    I love your blog! thank you so much!

  • Reply
    Spencer @ Moo-Lolly-Bar
    Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 4:08 am

    I am loving the combination of chocolate, banana and coffee. I don’t think I have had it before but is sounds delicious!

  • Reply
    Amy @ Fearless Homemaker
    Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 9:18 am

    My friend made these a few weeks ago, shared ’em with me, + I loved them! So, I made a riff on them yesterday, substituting mashed apples for the bananas, chocolate milk for the buttermilk, and adding more chocolate to compensate for no cocoa nibs. Gotta be flexible with what you already have in the house. =) They turned out fab! Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Reply
      Friday, March 7, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      I’m so glad you liked them! And good to know that mashed apples work just as well. I’ll have to try that soon.

  • Reply
    Friday, February 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Thank you for this fabulous recipe! I made them today and shared the recipe on my blog.
    I just found your blog last week and it is one of my new favorites. It’s beautiful to view, great recipes, and great writing. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Monday, February 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr…

    well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say excellent blog!

  • Reply
    Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    oh goodness, we have had so many snow days! we have to go an additional few days this summer. this looks like the perfect recipe for this bitter weather.

  • Reply
    Monday, February 17, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I made these muffins today to combat a dreadfully cold kitchen. The scent of warm bananas and chocolate baking was the perfect antidote to the bleary gray day. My always hungry children add their hearty approval. Thanks much for the lovely recipe!

  • Reply
    Shikha @ Shikha la mode
    Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Love the addition of coffee – it completes breakfast!

  • Reply
    Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    These look delicious!
    Quick question:

    Would any “healthier” subsitute work for buttermilk? Maybe low fat milk or vanilla almond milk? I don’t bake with buttermilk really so I am not sure how sub-ing it will effect the muffins. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Hi Nora, I have subbed almond and soy milk, and it’s worked fine. So you shouldn’t have a problem!

  • Reply
    Lisa Adams
    Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    I just wanted to thank you for all of your inspiration via pinterest. You were one of the first people I was turned on to and I feel like we are pinterest Sisters. Your boards gave me the confidence to start my own blog. ( I’ve been a personal chef for years, and am now connecting with so many more people than my weekly clients each week. I am just now seeing your blog for the first time and I’m noxious to start back at the beginning. Yay for social media!
    All good things to you, Lisa

    • Reply
      Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 11:14 pm

      Lisa!! What a wonderful, lovely note. Thank you so much. I’ve bookmarked your blog to check out this week! xo – Sarah

  • Reply
    la domestique
    Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    These muffins look so lovely! I will definitely be giving the recipe a try– love the wholesome flavor of whole wheat flour too.

  • Reply
    cynthia | two red bowls
    Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    What a beautiful post, Sarah. “Snippy and snappy and dreaming of oceans” — that’s definitely been me lately (my poor boyfriend). I love the idea of these muffins (banana and chocolate and coffee? Count me in) to stave off the January blues. Hope you and yours are doing better after everything you’ve been going through this past weeks!

  • Reply
    Monday, February 3, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    These muffins are gorgeous! Can’t wait to give this a try. Beautiful post – love your blog!

  • Reply
    Jesh StG
    Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Am happy I stumbled into your blog – lovely writing:) Fortunately I don’t have to deal with the cold, only when I visit my country of origin Holland. Ah, may favorite combination in muffins (when I make wheat flower pancakes I put choc chips and banana slices on top)!

  • Reply
    Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Ooo, I remember how much I loved the sound of this flavor combination in your last version. I love that this is a whole wheat version. They’re beautiful muffins and in the winter I’d much rather spend a day indoors with them instead of outside with the snow, that is until I too leave my cold home (though it’s admittedly not as cold as yours).

  • Reply
    Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I love the Little Prince quote. This post is so well written, such a nice read.

  • Reply
    erin @ yummy supper
    Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Sarah, I hate to romanticize how stir-crazy you must feel with frigid weather and kids home from school, but I have to say I imagine your home to be cozy and filled with the smell of buttery baking. Your kids are going to grow up with incredible memories of this time. Hang in there!

  • Reply
    Brian @ A Thought For Food
    Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Oh my goodness… I was sure I’d commented on this post. We are the same way in New England… but a day spent indoors is a good one. These muffins are just so lovely… that combination shouldn’t work, but it always does. Can’t wait to give these a try!

  • Reply
    Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:42 am

    I love that quote about courage and making things better at home. Really true. And these muffins look divine as well. Banana and chocolate is a win! x

  • Reply
    Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Oh, Sarah! You’re too kind 🙂 Thanks for the link-love. I feel exactly the same way about your photography, too! These muffins sound INCREDIBLE, such good flavours.
    Living in London, I’ve only had 2 snow days in my whole life, which were in the past 3 years. Having never had a snow-day previously I was the most excited person ever when I woke up that one morning to find out that I didn’t have to go to school. Because of snow!? Whaaaaat!? We haven’t had any snow yet this year which is kinda strange and as I don’t forsee any day-off muffin baking happening, I guess I’ll just have to make these on the weekend instead, oh well… 😉

  • Reply
    Friday, January 24, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Aw, thanks for the shout-out. And thanks for the kind comment on my site, too.

    It is arctic in Virginia, so I cannot IMAGINE what it must be like for you in MN! Geesh. I actually like winter, but single digits gets a bit old.

    Hope you’re well. —S

  • Reply
    Sini | my blue&white kitchen
    Friday, January 24, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Beautiful words, Sarah. The Little Prince, he knows. And these muffins? So comforting on an icy winter day when the wind beats against the sides of your house and you’re inside, cuddled up in front of the fireplace watching the logs burn.

  • Reply
    phi @PrincessTofu
    Friday, January 24, 2014 at 12:37 am

    I love the little prince sooo much it hurts.

  • Reply
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    These muffins look so perfect! I am a huge homebody too, but yeah too much home time is not awesome either!!

  • Reply
    Emma Galloway
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    I’m a real home body too, but totally understand that cramped feeling when everyone’s been cooped up too long! These muffins sound awesome and as always, stunning pics!
    p.s love to you and your feverish little ones xx

  • Reply
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    These look delicious!

  • Reply
    Zoë François
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    These muffins are completely gorgeous! Your day filled with baking and books is such a lovely image. Over here we’re playing yahtzee and poker – oh, these teenage boys take all the romance out of a snow day. But, they’re fun just the same. 🙂

  • Reply
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve always wanted a snow day – an unexpected treat to just pad around the house with no real plans and to know that you’re in the best place in that moment. Those are just the kind of days for baking delicious + wholesome muffins like these.

  • Reply
    Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    These sound divine – the perfect way to shake up my banana muffin routine. I love that you used all whole wheat flour. I’m going to try these, maybe with greek yogurt and coconut oil?

  • Reply
    Ali | Gimme Some Oven
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    These muffins look so wonderful and comforting! Love them!

  • Reply
    shanna mallon
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Chicago’s no Minnesota, but, even still, the weekend before I moved to Nashville, Illinois got a blizzard with four feet of snow. It was very woah. So my first winter in Tennessee, I was like, pssshaw, this isn’t cold! You sissies!

    aaaaaand now I have totally changed my tune, am ready to move farther south, who needs snow, no thank you! haha. While I was home for Christmas, I hung out with my pal Jacqui and she was telling me how she’s gotten used to winter, and I asked her, HOW? What’s the secret? How do I learn to like cold? And she sort of shrugged, Eh, I don’t know, you get used to it.

  • Reply
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I know I shouldn’t say this, specially after listening all the stories from east coast, I still wish it had snowed out here too, even if just a little bit. It’s already pretty warm in CA and I think summer might jump spring and land sooner than expected. Stay warm and I am sure muffins would help 🙂
    Read your interview in F&W, congrats! xx

  • Reply
    Abby @ The Frosted Vegan
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Snow days are just so cozy and warm and perfect for chocolate banana muffins! : ) I love Izy’s pictures too, she has the best styling! Also, congrats on all the features, you deserve it sister!

  • Reply
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I love that Little Prince quote. Such a good reminder for these cold days. And those photos! Stunning, as always. xoxo

  • Reply
    Iris - Writer/Photographer
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Going to use this one, that’s for sure! My family is trying to eat more wheat instead of white flour anyway, so this will be a nice addition to the menu.
    ~ Country Girl’s Daybook, recently posted: #whywemarch

  • Reply
    Beth @ bethcakes
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Gorgeous post! I love your writing style. These muffins would be so good on a snow day. 🙂 The banana, chocolate, coffee combo sounds amazing. I live in the South, so our snow days are rare and probably can’t be considered actual snow days compared to what people up North experience, but they’re pretty fun. I’d stay inside with these muffins all day, though.

  • Reply
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I have definitely had that feeling that the walls are closing in recently. On the really cold days, like today, I don’t get outside much because I think its just too cold to take my baby boy outside. He is happy rolling on the floor, but I’ve been feeling a little stir crazy. Today, though, I think I am ready to once again embrace the enforced time inside, the need for hot chocolate, baking and doing whatever I can to enjoy this time of year. Trying your muffins will probably be included in that.

  • Reply
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 8:13 am

    That is my favorite line from the Little Prince. My daughter “painted” it on her wall. These muffins are prefect to make during those stay at home days. I bet they smell amazing while baking.

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 8:05 am

    This recipe is totally killer! SO yummy.

  • Reply
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 4:12 am

    i just put aside 2 over ripe bananas this morning to figure out something to make with them today…then while perusing my pinterest feed saw this…and it hit the spot. even though i have a million recipes at home…this was something i wanted to try and see. im a southern californian living in sweden…which is very much like minnesota so i get the snow winter references! thanks!

  • Reply
    Sarah | The Sugar Hit
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 3:18 am

    These look like the perfect snow day treat. Not that I’ve ever experienced a snow day here in Australia, but if I did, I would want these muffins.

  • Reply
    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 2:33 am

    What a beautiful post – one of my best friends is currently doing a PhD in Minneapolis and, now in her 5th year, I think she has slowly gotten used to the winters (although she still complains about them). You could also flip your words upside down and it would aptly describe my first summer here in Rome – when temperatures were hovering for weeks near or above the 40 degree mark. When traveling on public transport was out of the question. As was walking anywhere. When I started debating with myself whether I really needed to leave the house to re-stock the fridge. When I got up at 6 for your run, in the vain hope that a run at 27 degrees Celsius was doable for more than 30 minutes. When drank liter after liter of water (in part thanks to all the public fresh water fountains dotted around Rome) and yet never needed a restroom break as the water just seemed to evaporate through my skin. And yes, I fought it in the beginning. But by August, there was no point in fighting it. I cut back on the running as it was just too hot and instead started a big batch of coldbrew for iced coffees, wore the lightest fabrics I found in my wardrobe and resigned myself to not leaving the house between 12-3pm.

  • Reply
    Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    We never get snow days here in California and while I’m certainly not jealous of the cold, I am jealous to have a reason to have to stay home all day. Enjoy, and stay warm. These muffins look like the perfect thing to bake up. xo

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