Banana Muffins (choc chip or nut)

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Makes 12 jumbo muffins

TIP: If you buy bananas every week like we do…and then don’t eat or “smoothie” them all before they are overripe…throw the extras into your freezer to use for delicious muffins or quickbread.

½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 or 5 medium-size ripe bananas, roasted (see PREP)
2 large eggs
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup bran flakes, crushed (ok to use Grapenuts, Shredded Wheat or All-Bran)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¾ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped or broken into medium size pieces (see PREP)
1 cup high quality chocolate chips (use full 12 oz. bag, which is 2 cups, if you really like chocolate). NOTE: If not using chocolate chips, increase walnuts to about 1½ cups or substitute 1 cup dried cranberries.

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
• Allow 1 stick of butter (½ cup) come to room temperature or soften slightly in the microwave on defrost setting (do not melt).
• Roast whole, unpeeled, very ripe bananas on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes, until they are bubbling. Let cool on the baking sheet, then slit one end of each banana and squeeze them into a bowl to cool, discarding the peels. Scrape any liquid from the pan into the bowl as well. NOTE: You can skip the roasting and just use very ripe bananas, but roasting adds another level of flavor.
• Toast walnuts on baking sheet at 350 degrees F for about 7-9 minutes (do not burn). Let cool on the baking sheet, then chop or break by hand into medium size pieces. NOTE: You can skip toasting the nuts, but this also adds a nice touch of flavor.
• Measure bran flakes (or other cereal) into baggie and crush into fairly fine crumbs.
• Measure buttermilk, sour cream and vanilla into a small container.
• Measure flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and whisk together in a bowl.

Cream butter and sugar; beat in bananas; add eggs one at a time, then stir in buttermilk mixture. Stir in flour mixture, crushed cereal, nuts and chocolate chips and mix just until combined (do not over-mix or muffin texture will be tough). Scoop about 1/3 cup of batter for each muffin into non-stick JUMBO muffin pans. Bake 23-27 minutes or until they test done in the center with a toothpick. If using regular muffin pans, fill each cup about ¾ full and bake for 13-17 minutes or until they test done with a toothpick. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

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