With a candied walnut-date topping and tops that rise high and rounded, these one-bowl banana muffins are easy and always a hit!
“Too dense”, “too flat”, “too soggy”, “too dry”, “too bland”, “too ugly”, too muffin-toppy” – these were some of the descriptions for my first, second, third and, yes, fourth attempts at these banana muffins. But I think they’re just right now and hope you will too!
Sometimes I get an idea in my brain (some might call it an obsession) and I can’t be satisfied until I conquer it. This time it was for banana muffins with dates and walnuts. It sounded hearty and “fall-ish” to me and I didn’t waste any time getting to work.
My first attempt was a super healthy version with no fat, just Greek yogurt, and bananas for moistness. They weren’t too bad when served warm – but after they cooled, not so much. The muffins were dense and dry, even the grandchildren pushed them away at the breakfast table. A good description might have been “banana flavored soggy cardboard”.
The second time around, the muffins were delicious but so unattractive; like flat little hockey pucks. My son and daughter-in-law had been staying with us when I made the first batch and had agreed that I needed to go back to the drawing board with the recipe. When I shared over the phone, that the new muffins were wonderful – but ugly, my daughter-in-law said: “They can’t look that bad”. Then she saw them and agreed that they would never make it to a photo shoot.
And on and on it went for several more batches. With the first few batches, I added the dates to the batter but, in the end, decided the muffins came out lighter and rose better when the dates were combined with chopped walnuts, a pinch of sea salt and a splash of maple syrup and sprinkled over the tops just before baking.
Finally! In round five, I peeked in the oven, after 15 minutes of baking time, and saw exactly what I was hoping for. Beautiful, round-topped, golden muffins with a shiny, candied walnut-date topping. And when I took the first bite, I knew we finally had a winner! I think they’ll be a keeper recipe for you too!
Café Tips for making these Walnut Date Banana Muffins
- Be sure to use really ripe, even over-ripe bananas for these banana muffins. As bananas ripen, their starch is converted to sugar, giving a natural sweetness to baked products. If your bananas are not ripe with lots of brown sugar spots, you can speed up the process a bit by placing them in a brown paper bag with an apple or one ripe banana. You can also ripen peeled bananas by placing them in the microwave for 30-40 seconds, or until you hear a slight sizzle.
- I find that it’s better to bake these banana muffins without muffin liners (or cupcake papers). This particular batter seems to stick to the paper and you lose some of the muffin when unwrapping. I spray the muffin pan generously with non-stick spray. For a pretty presentation when serving, I simply slip them into paper liners after baking and cooling.
- Did you know that you can mash ripe bananas right in their own skins? Just gently squeeze them, working your way up and down the length of the banana. Don’t squeeze too hard or you’ll split the skin.
- Another trick for mashing ripe bananas is to slip them in a ziplock bag. Seal the top, then squeeze until well mashed. Cut a corner off of the bag and squeeze the mashed bananas into your mixing bowl.
- You can chop your own dates for this banana muffin recipe, but I like to use the dates that come already chopped as they don’t stick together as much as when you chop whole dates.
- Use a good quality, heavy gauge muffin, pan for best results. Heavy gauge pans are good conductors of heat and will help your muffins bake more evenly. This OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Muffin Pan was rated as the best muffin pan by America’s Test Kitchen. It’s a beauty of a pan with a non-stick coating and a textured surface which gives a good airflow around the edges of the muffins as they bake.
- These muffins freeze well. I like to freeze them on a plate or pan, uncovered for about an hour. Once they are fairly well frozen, you can just toss them in a ziplock bag or airtight storage container and pull out one, two (or more) when you want to enjoy them.
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 medium-size ripe bananas 1 1/4- 1 1/2 cups
- 1 large egg
- 6 tablespoons melted butter divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cups chopped walnuts
- ½ cup chopped dates
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
Preheat oven to 425˚F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray - set aside.
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and stir well with a fork to combine.
Remove 1 tablespoon of butter to a medium-size bowl or cup and set aside.
Make a deep well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add mashed bananas, egg, the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter and vanilla to the well and stir with a fork in the center of the bowl, breaking up the egg yolk and mixing the wet ingredients.
Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon stir wet and dry ingredients together until the flour mixture is incorporated. Don’t overmix.
- Divide batter into prepared pan. Muffin cups should be about 2/3 full.
Add walnuts, dates, maple syrup to the bowl with the reserved butter and stir together until walnuts and dates are well coated. Sprinkle topping mixture over the batter in the muffin pans, dividing evenly.
Bake muffins for 5 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350˚F. and continue baking for another 12-15 minutes or until tops are golden and muffin tops spring back when touched lightly on the top.
Cool muffins for 5 minutes in the pan then transfer to a cooling rack.
See Café Tips for more detailed instructions and tips.
P.S. If you’re looking for a healthy banana muffin, with no refined sugar, these Healthy Banana Bran Muffins are also fabulous.
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