Something New- Banana Muffins & Toffee Cream Sauce

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Happy New Year!

It’s easy to be depressed by New Years Day, and New Year’s Eve for that matter as it’s basically all over.  The presents, the feasting, the midnight mass, the excitable kiddies, the stockings, the chocolate, the time off work, done! Over. Get back to it. Time for diets and budgets and giving up naughty things. But not until tomorrow. Today, we can squeeze out the last lazy drops of time for ourselves, and it should be glorious.

I’ve had a lovely new year, but I wont bore you with the details. Cut to dinner with friends and my being on dessert duty as a thank you to my fine Hogmonay hosts. Convenience of ingredients lead me to rustle up my all time favourite bake- banana bread muffins- but this didn’t seem special/decadent enough to finish of New Year’s Dinner. A scratch-made custard was possible though the soft, slightly sticky banana cakes cry out for either the sharp cut of some dark booze or a thick slash of caramel. What with an 8 year old sharing the table, my initial leaning towards a rum based accompaniment was short lived indeed. Now, what about that sticky toffee pudding sauce the older male sibling bashed out a couple of weeks ago? That will do nicely. And it would have done, had I picked up the dark muscovado sugar in the shops yesterday morning instead of the light. Oops. The result was still pleasing though, nowhere near as dark and rich as planned but still oozingly lovely and very well suited to the muffins.

So here it is, a lovely winter’s night dessert for all the family, mistakes included and my first ‘new thing’ of the year. It worked out ok.

Boomboom Banana Muffins & Toffee Cream Sauce
Serves 4-6

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For The Muffins

4oz unsalted butter
6oz caster sugar
2 whole eggs
2 large, ripe bananas
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tbspn milk
8oz plain flour
1tsp baking powder
3 tbspn cocoa solids or dark chocolate chips *optional*

For the Toffee Cream Sauce
300ml extra thick double cream
120g light muscovado sugar
90g lightly salted butter

Through some sort of genius chemistry, these muffins are only OK on the day of baking, but left overnight in an air tight tin they develop a delicious stickiness so make these the day before if at all all possible.

Set your oven to 175C and grease a muffin pan- you should get about 12 large cupcake sized cakes or 8 big muffins from this mix. In a large bowl (or a blender if you have better things to do with your time) cream together the butter and caster sugar until combined, light and fluffy. Then beat in your eggs one at a time. Mash your bananas thoroughly and add to the mix. I’ll add here that the older and squashier the bananas the better, they give so much more flavour to the mix when they are ripe, or even over ripe, and fresh harder fruit really doesn’t give the same result.

Next heat your milk in a small pan then just as it boils, add the bicarbonate of soda. It will all puff up and fizz and sizzle for a moment. Pour this into the main mix and beat in thoroughly. Now sift in the flour and baking powder then add the cocoa solids/ choc chips if using (Hotel Chocolat ‘Macho’ drinking chocolate is perfect) and fold into the wet mix. Spoon into your tin and cook for 20-25 minutes until risen and  an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool then store in an airtight tin.

The sauce should be made right before serving, it does not cool or keep well! Simply put your sugar, cream and butter (cut into little cubes) into a pan and heat gently until the butter and sugar have melted and combined into the cream. Continue to heat until barely boiling then serve immediately over your muffins.

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