These muffins are my own recipe, something I made up years ago upon being given a gift of dulce-de-leche from Argentina. Over there they apparently spread it on toast but of course I used it for baking. And it is caramel, by the way, or toffee if that is what you are more familiar with. Really thick, dense caramel. A common lunch or afternoon tea treat by a friend's mother was chocolate surprise muffins, in which the surprise was a teaspoon of jam in the middle, so I decided to swap the jam for my dulce-de-leche. Then I was clearly thinking of banoffie pie and decided to put a teaspoon of caramel in the centre and have all the goodness of banana and toffee in muffin form! And you know I thought I was so original, at one point I googled it and found no other recipes. But what would you know, it turns out that down under we spell banoffie wrong - I only just discovered this. If you spell it banoffee instead you find that there are loads of muffin recipes out there. How sad. However, this is still my unique version, and being spelt the kiwi way maybe others will find it who also spell the word wrong, and most of the recipes I looked at were very different to mine, there were only a couple that used the idea of a teaspoon of soft caramel in the centre. Most used hard bits of caramel fudge or caramel sauce over the top. So now that I have had my very small rant and proven my own inventiveness I should really just get on with it.
Begin the night before and prepare caramel of some sort (unless you have pre-made like a jar of dulce-de-leche, a can of caramel or a rather solid caramel sauce). You could make it with butter and brown sugar and milk but that is time consuming and messy. The best thing to do is to take a can of condensed milk and boil it for a long time. You could open it and empty it into a saucepan and simmer for ages, but you would have to keep stirring it. There is a much simpler option which many already know of, it's quite common, though when I first heard of it a few years ago I thought it a little strange.
Basically, you take a can of condensed milk, place it in a large pot and cover it with water (and also you should take the paper label off). Bring the water to the boil and keep it simmering for at least 3 hours. Keep an eye on the water level though, don't let it get lower than the can because apparently it could explode! This has never happened to me luckily. You also need to leave the can to cool completely after it's done, thus the need to prepare it the night before. Otherwise it will for one be really hot but also when you open the can the pressure inside will cause the caramel to spurt out and make a big sticky mess on the walls or ceiling or yourself. This has happened to me. Now, to get on with it!
2 cups plain flour (about 300 grams)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup caster sugar (or just any sugar will do) (and that's about 125 grams)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 mashed bananas (200 grams or so)
100 grams butter, melted
1 cup milk (250 mL)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
First, preheat the oven to 200 degreees celsius and grease or line your muffin pans.
Take a large bowl and sift into the dry ingredients (except the sugar, that won't go through the sifter of course, just throw that in separately). Then give it a bit of a mix and make a bit of a well in the centre of the bowl.
In another bowl combine the melted butter, milk, egg and vanilla essence. Beat or whisk and then add the mashed bananas. Mix as much as you like - if you want lumps of banana don't mix to much, if you want really smooth muffins mix it really well.
Now take the wet mixture and pour it into the dry, folding the two mixtures together until they are just combined. It is okay if you still see pockets of flour, I surely needn't explain that muffins must not be overmixed?
Finally we are up to the fun part, and see how easy that was? It amazes me how many people think that baking is difficult and time consuming. Take a desert spoon and place a spoonful of mixture or so into each muffin hole, not filling them to more than half but making sure that there is enough in each hole so that the caramel doesn't leak through the bottom.
Next, take a teaspoon and place a teaspoonful of caramel in the centre of each muffin. Top it off with another large spoonful of muffin mixture.
Bake your muffins for 12 to 15 minutes. They should rise evenly and have rounded tops, not pointy tops. Mine did not even rise much at all - I wonder if maybe my baking powder is getting a bit old? A skewer inserted into a muffin should come out clean but this may be hard to judge with all the sticky caramel! Let them cool for about 5 minutes while still in the pan, then carefully pop them out and let them cool the rest of the way, or eat them while they are warm and gooey.