Banana Cacao Nib Buckwheat Muffins

I feel restless. My legs want to run when I need to stand still. My mind wanders when I need it to stay here, in this moment. My heart begins to stray when I give it a minute of rest. These disparate emotions become exhausting, pulling me one direction and then the next, placing me at odds with myself.

I think of summer and sunlight and grass between my toes when I look at snow drifts taller than myself outside my bedroom window. I wonder why I live in a place where the winter air physically hurts my face. I dream of running away to Europe, drinking wine and eating cheese, when I permit myself a moment to watch an old episode of No Reservations. I try to imagine what it would be like to actually have free time while I'm at school on a Friday night at 5:30 pm grading papers.

Restless, restless, restless.


To be truthful, I didn't expect much from these muffins. They were more of a last minute idea, a product of restlessness, than a thoughtful intention. A few forgotten bananas on the counter met some buckwheat flour hidden away in the back of the cupboard. I threw in a handful of cacao nibs as an afterthought, a snack food I recently bought and found too bitter to eat on its own.

When the comforting scent of baking muffins filled the air, I began to think that I may have judged these muffins too soon. In the end, they taste a little like banana bread, but can also hold their own as something unique. While the cacao nibs were too bitter by themselves, in the muffins they lose their bitter tones, transforming into something else entirely. A little like chocolate, perhaps, but with the addictive texture of walnuts.

I ate a dozen over the course of a week (and I would have eaten more if there hadn't been another muffin lover in the house). I may not have believed these muffins would be much in the beginning, but they became something memorable in the end.

Banana Cacao Nib Buckwheat Muffins are a comfort food for breakfast or dessert. The flavors of banana, cacao, and the nuttiness of buckwheat come together in these muffins. The color may appear dark, as if they are made from cocoa powder, but the shade of brown comes solely from the buckwheat flour and a touch of espresso powder. I enjoyed these with a mug of hot chocolate, to feed the soul while giving it warmth.

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Banana Cacao Nib Buckwheat Muffins

Yields about 18 muffins

1/3 cup (75 grams) butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (66 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
3 large over-ripe bananas (1 1/2 cups), mashed
1/3 cup (80 ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (70 grams) buckwheat flour
3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup (80 grams) cacao nibs**

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a muffin tin.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat. Mix in the mashed banana. Stir in milk and vanilla extract.

Gradually add the flours, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix dry ingredients into wet until just blended. Fold in the cacao nibs.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full and sprinkle the tops with a few cacao nibs. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Serve warm, with a small pat of butter, or at room temperature.

** The cacao nibs could be substituted with miniature chocolate chips, if desired.