Back in our “youth” the three clever sisters adored our first dog, Coco. Her full name was Coco Cabana Clevering (the Cabana part was a suggestion by Aunt B, thank you very much). Oh, and the middle name? She had to have one – I mean we all had middle names, right? Also if we were going to “register” her with the AKC we had to give her a middle name. As for the choice, we had NO idea what “Cabana” meant, but thought it sounded cool as part of her official name. (I’ll admit I kind of wanted “Coco Chanel” because it was “high falutin” and such but 2 to 1, I was out-voted.)
I was 9, Sara was nearly 11, and Marie was nearly 5 when we got her. I can still remember my dad calling from the bottom of the stairs “oh girls!” Not surprisingly, the three of us SQUEALED with glee. My mom was working that Saturday afternoon, but as she came in she called out “one of the first things is not to let her get on the couch…” She took one look at us competing for the closeness of this little dog’s attention — all four (Sara, me, Marie, and Coco) perched on those historic green couches, and knew it was a lost cause.
And so, Coco came into our lives. We spoiled that little dachshund and likely traumatized her too in our early years. Such a devoted little nurse-maid she was too — she had this sense about her to know when you weren’t quite feeling well and loved to cuddle.
Considering how very un-alike Coco was to actual Cocoa, it’s a good thing we opted with our unique spelling.
But, this recipe called for the real deal: fine, high quality dutch processed cocoa. I’m glad I was at Sara’s when I baked it since she had a lot on hand. Otherwise, I would have cheated with the Hershey’s variety. The other tricky ingredient to obtain for the recipe was the ripe, very ripe bananas. I’m one of the few people who likes her bananas soft and sweet. If there’s a hint of green, they aren’t ready yet — the contrast with the peanut butter isn’t as good, perhaps. Most folks, including my little nephew E, like them barely ripe. As a result, I had to tuck away a few bananas to ripen naturally and outside the grasps of those who might actually want to eat them alone.
Once I had all the ingredients, however, I followed the instructions as best as I could — this means I didn’t disregard sifting like I normally would. Maybe it’s something about baking at Sara’s house, I’m just more inclined to be precise because I know she’s set a very high standard for baking!
I’m not sure how this is a muffin recipe rather than a cake recipe, considering the ingredients: sugar, chocolate, butter, eggs, and sour cream! But really, who’s complaining?
Another perk to baking at Sara’s? The use of the kitchenaid!
Sara also has very nice muffin tins. Mine are OLD (as in Goodwill/Grandma’s cupboard old — not that my Gami is old), and I’m convinced that although they are supposedly “standard” modern muffin tins are just slightly larger because the muffin liners just don’t seem to fit in mine. Either way, there’s always the tried and true greasing of the tins – it sure helps to remember this when you’re out of the liners!
And so, the next trick is to evenly distribute them without overflowing. Unlike cake batter, this muffin batter was thick and not too runny which helped with the work. Because Sara only had one standard muffin tin and our buddy Maglieri wrote the recipe for more than 12, I used her mini muffin tins to supplement, rather than WAIT for the first batch to bake and cool.
In retrospect, I probably should have removed the mini muffins a little earlier as they were a smidge on the dry side, but you’d only notice if you compared them to the standard muffins.
And, did Little E like them? Yes. When we asked, do you want some cake? He said yes. Also, when we failed to ask him, he also showed us how he enjoyed them. He just reached up on his very 2-year-old tippy toes and grabbed the container attempting to help himself…