Sunday, February 07, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Okay, I'm a little early for Valentine's Day, but as busy as I've been I thought I'd better get a blog up while I could! Over at EQII ZAM the EQII Team (and a couple other people!) are up to our ears in Sentinel's Fate, the next EverQuest II expansion. The Non-Disclosure Agreement was just lifted, so we're grinding out content at an insane rate.

But family trumps EQII every time. The boys will be celebrating Valentine's Day at school this week. Here's another red candy holiday that causes issues for us because of Kiddo's ADHD and the Red40 connection. And the teachers aren't very fond of the influx of candy into the classrooms - Kiddo's teacher has a "no sugary snacks" policy.

So to foster the spirit of celebration without loading the kids up with sugar and Red 40, I'm baking. I've got my favorite Chocolate Zucchini Bread recipe, which is a no-brainer for the red chocolate holiday, but I also have a bunch of bananas that need to be baked up TODAY or else.

A little research showed that making chocolate banana bread is easy - just add cocoa powder. If you're not avoiding sugar some chocolate chips would make this a marvelous chocolate overload. So here we go:
Chocolate Banana Mini-Muffins

1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 1/4 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cups shortening
2/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups ripe banana pulp

This works best if all ingredients are room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl blend shortening, and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla and banana to the sugar mixture.

Add the sifted ingredients in about three parts to the sugar mixture, beating the batter after each addition until smooth. Fold in any nuts or other goodies.

Line a mini-muffin pan with mini-muffin cups. Fill with one heaping tablespoon of batter. Bake 10-13 minutes. Alternatively, place the batter in a greased bread pan and bake for one hour or until done. For regular muffins, bake 15-20 minutes. Makes one loaf or 12 muffins.

I didn't want to frost these. First, good frosting is all sugar. Second, have you ever frosted 70+ mini muffins? I won't be doing that again! I topped the muffins with red sugar before baking. Well, I forgot on one batch and learned that you really can't put the sugar on after baking, it just comes right off. I discovered that Wilton Red-Red Icing Color has no Red40 (lots of other artificials, though). I took a generous dollop of Wilton Red Red and a cup of sugar and stirred the heck out of it until it was well combined. The sugar's a little clumpy because you've added moisture to it, so you have to spoon it on. Works great, though! I'll use it on the chocolate zucchini mini muffins too. I think the banana version is richer, but I've already bought the zucchini!

So there you go. Red chocolaty Valentine's Treats that aren't junk!

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