Thursday, September 10, 2009

chocolate-chip banana bread

Chocolate-chip banana bread. What more do you need to say?

Having a surplus of overripe bananas in the freezer (a funny thing happens when you leave bananas in a hot apartment) I was overdue to bake a loaf of banana bread. So when our Governor's Island picnic rolled around, I figured that was a good excuse to turn on the oven and free up some freezer space.

I'd been hearing good things across the blogosphere about an incredibly delicious chocolate-ginger banana bread from Molly Wizenberg's A Handmade Life. I still haven't read the book, but I'm a huge fan of her blog and it's high on my long "to-read" list.

Like pizza, ice cream, and a lot of other hard-to-screw-up foods, banana bread is usually pretty good in my book. But this bread totally lived up to the hype. Molly's version is properly buttery and perfectly dense, but the addition of chocolate and extra moisture from plain yogurt put it over the top. We ate about half of the loaf at the picnic and I have steadily been making progress on the rest. It's ideal for pre-and post-gym snacks, mid-day nibbling, emotional eating, late-night dessert cravings, and any other excuse you might make to eat it.

Chocolate-chip banana bread
Molly's recipe (via Wednesday Chef) calls for crystallized ginger, but I didn't have any and didn't want to buy a whole container. If you'd like banana bread with little bits of spice, Molly recommends adding
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger at the same time as the chocolate chips.
(Makes 1 loaf)

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
3 large ripe bananas, mashed (I used 4 bananas)
1/4 cup well-stirred whole-milk plain yogurt (not low or nonfat)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (I used the seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean)

Set a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan or an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray or butter. Melt the butter on the stove or in a microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips (and crystallized ginger, if using) and whisk well to combine. Set aside. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter with be thick and somewhat lumpy, just make sure all the flour has been incorporated. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top.

Bake into the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 mins to an hour. If the loaf seems to be browning too quickly, tent with foil. Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then tip out onto the rack, and let it cool completely before slicing. (The loaf freezes well wrapped in plastic wrap and again in foil to protect from freezer burn.)


Ellen said...

This looks delicious! I always throw my brown bananas out, but this is a great alternative!!

Lisa said...

Oh, you should always freeze your brown bananas! Just throw them in there, right in the peel. (It will keep them from getting freezer burn.) When you're ready to use them, just remove the peel and throw it away, then defrost the bananas. You can use also them for smoothies or muffins or pancakes...

Unknown said...

I've had a lot of brown bananas recently and went the vegan approach for my banana bread. Next time I'll throw some chocolate and eggs in. Thanks for the recipe.

Janice said...

I am always looking for good recipes to use up the (as my husband calls them) "banana sacrifices" in my freezer. Thanks for the recipe!

Daniel said...

Does anyone have the scientific background to explain why, all of a sudden, our last few bunches of bananas have gone directly from green to brown?

Lisa said...

Janice: Banana sacrifices...ha!

Daniel: You know, I think the problem is that I put our bananas in a fruit bowl with other fruit, which emits ethylene gas. So maybe it's making them ripen faster? Although sometimes they ripen normally, so who knows...

Lisa said...

Tender Branson: Banana bread is one of those recipes that actually could be good when made vegan. The bananas provide so much moisture. But, really, what isn't made better with eggs and chocolate?

Margaret Pinard said...

OMG- you can put bananas in the freezer, without compromising the banana moisture level?? Big revelation. Will do.
Nice to see the Ginger-chocolate-banana bread recipe making the rounds. I didn't post on it, but I DID make it, and it WAS delicious, good for all those occasions you mentioned. Plus, I didn't need to buy a big container of the ginger- I found Whole Foods sells little packs (think about 3-raisin-box size) for a few dollars, and I used it once more to finish it up in another recipe. Convenient!

Lisa said...

Hi Margaret--Yep! Just throw 'em in the freezer, whole and in the peel. They look kind of slimy and gross when you unpeel them to defrost but they work just the same.

And thanks for the tip on the ginger! I can never seem to finish an entire plastic container or bag of crystallized ginger and it always feels like a waste.

Paulita said...

Lisa. I've been tired of my old banana bread recipes...thanks for this...chocolate makes everything better

Lisa said...

Mme P: It definitely does! Try it--it's a great recipe.

Anonymous said...

well, i tried it WITH the ginger and you can tell it would be an AMAZING recipe without that added husband wouldn't even take a second bite (which is a rare thing if chocolate of any sort is involved) will be making this again with no ginger!

Lisa said...

Anony: Oh, no! I'm sorry to hear that. I always hate when recipes don't come out. Was it too spicy? I hope you'll try it again minus the ginger, it really is delicious without it.


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