Friday, October 16, 2009
SO in case you haven't guessed, Nicole and I are friends. What, you mean you had no idea?? Well if there is one thing we have in common, it's food (and not the other thousand things we have in common too).
Rewind a little bit: about a week ago, someone I work for gave me two bunches of bananas. They had a ton of bananas because they run a bicycling vacation company -Carolina Tailwinds, if you must know- and bananas are a great recovery food for cycling. Weeell... the catch is that they apparently don't eat bananas unless they are on the green side. And they had a few days before running a new tour, so no guests would eat them either. Guess who ended up with 11 bananas? That's right: me. Guess who had a blog post not too long ago for banana bread? That's right: Nicole.
Let the choir sing.
I ended up making three batches of banana bread, two loaves each. I also ended up forgetting to pick up chocolate chips while I was at the store, and it made me think: why not do a chocolate banana bread? I have decent cocoa powder. What could possible go wrong???
Well, there are variables. First of all, what would the addition of 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of cocoa powder do to the dry/wet ingredient ratio? What would bittersweet chocolate do to the sweet/bitter ratio? First problem solved: I had an extra banana. Second problem solved: the banana was very sweet, due to it's near rotten ripeness. And the first batch of banana bread, which was done according to the recipe, was very sweet so I wasn't too worried. The only thing left was to try it.
This line can't say anything other than: I tried it.
It wasn't bad. Not bad at all, if I do say so myself. But it was definitely... off. Somehow. I'm not even sure how to describe it. The chocolate flavor was not a developed flavor at all. It was just... there. The banana still came through wonderfully, but it was like the classy flavor who wished the trashy cousin wasn't at the party, even though he was invited. Maybe it's just a revolt of the mind: banana bread should be banana bread and trying to make it anything else is a violation of principle and years of establishment.
Whatever the case may be, it definitely works if you can imagine you're eating a banana split drizzled in chocolate syrup. It really does taste like that. In bread form. Which is just weird.
If you have no interest in the chocolate, you should at least try making the following regular recipe. I don't have a lot of experience with banana bread, but I can tell you that this version is extremely delicious. It's moist but not too dense, and really shines a spotlight on the banana flavor.
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup whole milk (or sour cream, if you prefer)
2 1/2 cups flour
Optional: 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (if you want to try the chocolate nanner bread)
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 overripe bananas, mashed coursely so there are still small chunks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8" loaf pans for baking and set aside.
Using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer, or a hand mixer if that's all you have (like me!), beat butter and sugars together until creamy.
Beat in egg and milk or sour cream until incorporated. Add dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Do not over beat. (Don't worry; the batter is supposed to be dryish.)
Add banana and beat until just incorporated. Again, don't over beat!
Divide evenly between pans and bake until tester comes clean, about 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then remove from pan and try your best not to cut into it until it is sufficiently cool. Wait five minutes, at least, if you can possibly handle it. I get to about seven before I have to have a piece. =P
*In case you're wondering, the chocolate loaves are shiny because I put a towel over the pans while they were cooling. Yeah... BAD idea. The steam created settles back on the top, making it sticky to the touch. Not very fun if you're a finger eater, like me, and don't want to use a fork. I'll have to figure out some other way to keep naughty kitties from nibbling when I turn my back.