Bananas really are one of my favorite snack foods. Delicious, healthy, neatly packaged, quick and convenient. You can’t really beat that. Oh and they make the perfect vehicle for peanut butter or Nutella (my all time favorite way to eat a banana!). But despite my love for bananas, there always seems to be one or two in the bunch that I can’t manage to finish before they get overly ripe for my liking. So I toss them in the freezer and when I end up with a whole mess of frozen bananas, I make these babies.
I’ve made a lot of banana breads and muffins in my day, but I think this recipe for Banana Crunch Muffins from Ina Garten is my favorite version. These muffins are jam-packed with goodies – including granola, walnuts and coconut. And in addition to the usual mashed bananas, there are BIG chunks of banana in these muffins as well. Isn’t it nice to look at your food and actually be able to see and identify what you are eating?
Since I like these babies for breakfast, I made them a wee bit healthier than the original recipe calls for. I replaced half of the butter with unsweetened apple sauce. And I also incorporated some whole wheat flour into the mix. And I must say, I’m pretty happy with this lightened up version. They are still tender and fluffy, but a tad bit more virtuous. So next time you find yourself with a pile of frozen bananas (just thaw them first!), give this recipe a try. Make these Banana Crunch Muffins for a special weekend treat and then enjoy them all week as a perfect grab and go breakfast on your way out the door.
I love cheesecake. But I hardly ever eat it. When faced with the dessert choices at a restaurant I almost always go with richest, most chocolate-infused item on the menu. The cheesecake always sounds so good to me. But I know myself – and I have that unrelenting chocolate itch that I MUST scratch. Have I mentioned I’m a chocoholic? Seriously, I have issues. I decided to combine my love for chocolate and cheesecake so I never have to go without either again. All my problems are solved now! Isn’t life just great sometimes?!?!
The recipe for the cheesecake layer is one that my mom used to make. It’s everything you dream that a cheesecake should be – smooth, creamy, tangy and simply melt-in-your-mouth irresistible. I wanted to do something a little bit different with the fruit layer and the crust, so I chose apricots and ginger as my flavor components. And I think this combination definitely adds to the overall “zingy-ness” of these cheesecake bites. I used ginger snaps to make the crust (instead of the traditional graham cracker crust) and then topped it with a fresh apricot puree and candied ginger pieces before smothering on the dreamy white cheesecake layer. I made this recipe in a 9 X 13 baking pan so I could cut out small squares for a perfectly proportioned, shareable and satisfying little treat.
Now right here you have something entirely delicious on it’s own: rich and fruity cheesecake bites that everyone will love. But I just couldn’t stop there. I HAD to go the extra mile and make them super chocolatey. So I added on a thick coating of dark chocolate – and let me tell you – this makes them really stand out! I used Theo’s 70% dark chocolate for the enrobing. I’ve all ready confessed my un-dying devotion to Theo Chocolate in a previous post, so I’ll restrain myself from going on about them again here. If you can’t find Theo chocolate, make sure you use something else of very high quality.
These chocolate covered apricot-ginger cheesecake bites do take some time to make. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the cheesecake needs to be really firm before cutting into it and dipping it in chocolate. So you are left with having to deal with some inactive prep time while things rest in the refrigerator and freezer. But these babies are totally worth the wait! Make ‘em and share ‘em. You’ll have new friends real fast if you do!