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)
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.)