Like many of you, I had some bananas that were about to go bad, and decided to make these muffins. These are not at all complicated, but the addition of the calendula, really adds a fabulous subtle flavor, and delicateness as well. My kids actually told me that these were the BEST BANANA MUFFINS they've ever had! (Coming from these picky eaters, that says alot!) They are just sweet enough, and are incredibly moist and tender, (thanks to the creamy ricotta cheese and Greek yogurt!) And, the banana isn't so overpowering that you can't taste the hint of calendula.
Calendula (Pot Marigold), has been used as a medicinal "herb" for centuries. This plant is high in flavonoids- which are chemicals that act as anti-oxidants in the body. Most notably, this plant has been known to be incredibly powerful for skin treatment- especially: healing of wounds, burns, eczema, psoriasis, juvenile acne, and warts. It's also been known to aid in respiratory illness, gastritis, menstrual cramps, and conjunctivitis. Hard to believe that these little delicate petals pack such a "punch"! "Can you use fresh calendula petals?" Of course! My only precaution with that is knowing where your flowers came from. It's important when using fresh that you strictly use organic, or pesticide/ chemical free flowers.
While most may enjoy it as a "tea", these petals are also delicious in salads, butters, candies, main dishes, etc. They are incredibly versatile!
Also, although muffins are very simple to make, they are a bit "fussy". I learned in Culinary School, that when making muffins and other "quick breads", it's important to minimally stir- just to incorporate ingredients. However, after working in professional kitchens, it wasn't exactly practical to make large batches by hand, so I'm used to using my Kitchen Aid mixer for most everything. Personally, I can't say that I've noticed "tough" muffins (ever!), and these muffins still tasted every bit as delicate and tender. But, as you can see by my pics below at the bottom, there are some "holes" from the extra air mixed in- thus trapping the carbon dioxide, and also causing the muffins to "peak" at the top, instead of remaining flat.
So, in conclusion, for standard size batches it's best to go "old school" and mix this all by hand, (unless you want to be a rebel like me, that is! LOL!) Feel free to experiment on your own, to see which method you like best! Just keep in mind that whether it's mixing by hand or machine, you still want to mix as little as possible when adding the dry ingredients to the wet. Enjoy these yummy muffins with a drizzle of honey, butter, and a hot cup of tea or coffee!!
Yield: 2 dozen+ standard muffins, or 3-4 dozen mini muffins
Prep time: About 20min.
3 cups of flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter- room temp.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
3-4 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup Ricotta cheese
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup dried Calendula petals + extra for sprinkling on top ****Can be found at most tea or spice stores
Baking spray or muffin liners
Preheat oven to 350F.
1) Prepare your muffin pans by either spraying the cavities with baking spray, or lining with paper muffin liners.
In a medium sized bowl, sift together your dry ingredients, (flour, baking soda, baking powder, & salt.)
2) In a separate mixing bowl with paddle attachment, (or beat by hand), cream together the softened butter and sugars until nice and fluffy. Add in the eggs 1 at a time, and mix well, and make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl. Add in the bananas- mixing well to break them up, then add the yogurt, ricotta, and vanilla- mixing until well incorporated.
3) Carefully begin to add in the sifted dry ingredients, (in approx. 3 stages- only mixing until somewhat incorporated). Before adding the last part of the dry, add in the 1/4 cup of dried calendula petals. Pulse mix the last stage, only mixing until the dry is incorporated, or moistened.
****You don't want to over mix muffins!
4) Spoon, or use a scoop to drop the batter into your prepared muffin pans, and fill the muffins about 3/4 full. Sprinkle some more dried calendula petals on top of muffins before baking.
Bake in a 350F. oven for 12-16min. (depending on your oven.) **Muffins should spring back in center, and shouldn't have too much color, (some golden brown on edges- as in picture.)
Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for about 30min. before consuming.
These muffins are best consumed within 2-4 days of baking when stored in a cool/ dry place. These freeze well, (if you are baking ahead), or if you wish to make them last longer, (or live in a hot/humid climate), make sure to refrigerate these so they will last up to a week.