I have a banana problem. Maybe you do too. I frequently buy a few and never get around to eating more than one. So why don’t I buy them just one a time? Who knows. Maybe somewhere deep in my subconscious, a single banana is a sad, solitary thing. Maybe it needs a friend. Instead, I let the extras sit on the counter, first spotting then slowly turning from brown to darker brown and perfuming the kitchen with their sweet, cloying scent. Yep. Welcome to my life. Then, when I get around to it, I’ll peel the squishy things and pop them into a Ziploc which is shoved mercilessly into the freezer to deal with at a later time. Which is when the fun starts because now they’re ready for banana bread at the drop of a hat. And I do so love banana bread. Which is also great because guess what?? It’s National Banana Bread Day! YES! Another weird wacky food holiday on my recent list of weird wacky food holidays!
Did you know the second recipe I posted on this blog was for banana bread? It was. Nothing too exciting but it was (and still is) a favorite recipe of mine that was definitely worth sharing. Everyone needs a good banana bread recipe. I picked it up from a woman I worked with long, long ago and continue to pass it on. To make it a little special, sometimes I’ll brown the butter or throw in a handful of nuts or chocolate chips but even if you do none of these things, it’s a really good recipe that turns out every time. Today, because I was feeling the need for a bigger chocolate hit, I made an extra rich chocolate version that is completely over the top. It’s ridiculous.
What better way to celebrate such a momentous day as National Banana Bread Day then an over the top, rich and chocolately banana bread? Right on. With a few easy additions, primarily a good dose of Dutch-process cocoa powder, my favorite loaf became dark, rich and chocolately, bordering more on a cake than my favorite breakfast treat. It’s pretty incredible. To make it even fancier and reinforce that banana idea, I baked a banana slice on top though in looking back at the photos, I realized it may look …odd to some. Whoops. I like it but maybe round slices of banana would work better for some. Whatever suits you, I say.
While banana bread is easy, there is one very important thing that is needed. The bananas need to be very, very ripe. An eating banana and a bread banana are two distinctly different things. That over-ripe, mushy texture and highly fragrant flavor is what is absolutely needed. If you’re bananas aren’t quite there, hold off and let them ripen on the counter. This is why you should always have a backstock in the freezer.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: THIS $@*& IS BANANAS. Really, it is. Take your (or in this case, my) favorite banana bread and turn it into something completely over the top. Dutch cocoa powder turns out a deep, dark loaf that is visually stunning and maybe even tricks you into thinking it tastes more chocolately than it does. I really don’t care, it’s delicious. We might call this one a new breakfast treat. I normally don’t go for chocolate in the morning but this just might make me start changing my ways. When I can’t sleep, banana bread has always been an easy one to get up and do relatively easily. As I’ve noted previously, I find sleep deprived baking to be rather relaxing and this fits right in very nicely.
Other banana recipes: Brown Butter Banana Bread, Roasted Banana Sorbet, Banana Bread Bread Pudding (made with leftover banana bread, I can only imagine how great this will be with this chocolate banana bread. Whoo!), Banana Fudge Layer Cake, Banana Tarte Tatin
Seven years ago: Khachpuri (Georgian Cheese Bread)
Six years ago: Blood Orange Marmalade
Five years ago: Chocolate Ganache Tart
Four years ago: Chocolate Malt Pots de Crème
Three years ago: Chocolate Cherry Buns
Two years ago: Chocolate Crème Filled Cupcakes
Last year: Flourless Chocolate Cookies
CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD
Makes 1 loaf
When I find myself with an excess of quickly decaying bananas, I’ll peel and pop the fragrant fruit into a Ziploc bag for the freezer. While you can throw the banana right in the freezer, peel and all, peeling them first is much easier later on. If I can manage to freeze them in groups of 3, exactly what’s needed for this recipe, all the better. When the need strikes for banana bread, I’ll pull a bag the night or even a few hours before and defrost in a bowl.
3 large, very ripe bananas
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon dark rum (or vanilla extract)
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup mini chocolate chips
1 banana, in a long ¼” thick strip or ¼” thick round slices
- Line a loaf pan with a sling of parchment paper and spray the tin well with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- In a medium bowl, mash the bananas.
- Add the sugar, egg, melted butter and rum (or vanilla) and mix to combine.
- Add the flour and salt; sift in the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda (just to eliminate any lumps) and stir to combine.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and top with the banana slice (or slices).
- Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick or skewer inserted just off center comes out clean with no traces or wet batter and the top is set.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before attempting to remove from the pan.
- Banana bread will keep, tightly wrapped, for a few days or freeze for up to 1 month.