Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Golden Monkey Muffins, or How I Spent my Saturday

Ok, first things first. We finally gave a kitty a forever home!  Last week I talked about getting a cat from PAWS, and on Friday we finalized the adoption process and brought our little lady home. Everyone, I'd like you to meet Ms. Gracie LaRoux. 
Her previous owners abandoned her, and she was so sad at the shelter. I can't understand how anyone could abandon her. She's petite, and full of style and grace, and really just an all-around swell gal. She seems happy and content in her new home, already claiming the papasan as her own. But the best part of the whole process? Watching Ken, my "I don't really like cats" boyfriend, slowly fall in love with her. Although, you'd have to be heartless to deny this much adorable. Also, if you're thinking about adopting a cat or dog, try PAWS first. There's so many sweet animals there waiting for a forever home!
Gracie and I spent all day Saturday getting to know each other, and it was just wonderful. Pocket pies are on my 'to-do' list for the Punk Rock Flea Market, and I found an interesting recipe on Vegan Yum Yum. Now, pies are my specialty, and I've got a pie crust recipe that works beautifully for me every time. This recipe called for a Pate Brisee, and though I'd never tried it before, I figured I'd branch out and give it a go. And since Gracie is French, she offered to help.
I guess there's a lot of things that could have gone wrong with this recipe. It's a vegan recipe, so there's no actual butter. I used the food processor, which I never usually do. Maybe I didn't add enough water. Maybe it was too hot in the kitchen. All I know is, I couldn't get the dough to roll. It kept cracking no matter what I did. It was really quite infuriating. Especially for someone who thinks pastry is her specialty and has never had such problems before. 
And everytime I'd ask Gracie for her help, she was all like, "Oh, I'll be back in one second, I just need to check on something." And 20 minutes later, I'd leave the kitchen frustrated and all covered in flour, to find her comfy and sound asleep. 
This happened repeatedly. 
Gracie, I'm sorry to say that you're fired as sous chef. However, there's an opening for adorable mascot, and I think I'll hire you immediately.
I spent a really long time fighting with this dough. Too long. And for the hours I spent on this endeavor, I only got two pocket pies out of the deal and they cracked and leaked and generally looked like they had just come back from war. 
A quick web search eased my stress, as many people appeared to have issues with this recipe, including Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. That really made me feel better. So, I scrapped the rest of the dough, cranked the AC in the bedroom, and took a catnap with my new best friend. When we woke up, we made banana muffins to brush off the morning pastry FAIL. And these muffins are a total WIN.

Guys, I hope you're ready, cause I'm about to give you my vegan banana muffin recipe. This is my go-to recipe. I've stolen hearts and blown minds with these muffins. 
It started with a banana bread recipe from How it All Vegan that I've altered over the years. This recipe makes a sweet, light and moist muffin that you can throw just about anything into, or leave plain. Since I was out of nuts and wasted all my blueberries on botched pocket pies, golden raisins were all I had left. And so I give you, the Golden Monkey muffins.

Golden Monkey Muffins
adapted VERY loosely from How it All Vegan

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup vegan sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 375. Grease muffin pan, or line with muffin cups. In a medium bowl, mash bananas. Add lemon juice, oil and vegan sugar and whisk together. In a large bowl, sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Fold wet ingredients into the flour mixture and gently stir with a wooden spoon until just mixed. When almost done mixing, fold in raisins. DO NOT OVER MIX. Some lumps are OK.  Pour into muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Makes 12 regular sized muffins, or six large muffins.
*Notes: If golden raisins aren't your thing, feel free to substitute blueberries, chopped walnuts, dates, or whatever you have on hand and tickles your fancy. Then let me know how it works!

*Also, vegan muffins and breads work best when you mix much less than you think you should. You want to mix until you don't see any more flour, and lumps be damned. When pouring the batter into the pan, don't bother smoothing or smooshing it down either. Just scrape the batter in, and let it fall as it will. This helps to keep the muffins light, instead of dense and gooey.


  1. Gracie = PROSH. I can't get over how little she is! But... do these pictures lie, or does she have enormous paws? Either way, I want to nom them.

    And speaking of things I want to nom: I'm anti-nuts-and/or-raisins-in-my-baked-goods, so may I respectfully suggest semi-sweet chocolate chips in the banana muffins? ("Chocolate Chimp Muffins"?)

  2. it's a trick of the camera. I assure you she's very petite all over. Also, she would love you to come smoosh her face, as she's extra lovable.

    Also also, as soon as I get a payroll, I'm adding you to it. Best product development guru EVER.

  3. adorable of course. I have to confess that I totally thought that "Golden Monkey Muffins" had Golden Monkey beer in the batter. But thats what makes me special, right?