April 12, 2011

Banana bread with chocolate

Who likes bananas?  Everyone feels ok about them; I can't think of anyone I know who hates bananas but it doesn't generate much excitement.  It's not glamorous or exotic.  Rather, it is humble, but sturdy and satisfying.  It's kind of like that good friend you have that's always reliable and there when you need someone. 

The banana is always there for you at the supermarket.  I keep them stocked at home and it's a great snack to have on the run.  I've been baking a banana muffin for a few years now that our family loves (I'll save that for another day) so when I have some extra bananas getting ripe, I'll just whip some up.  And while everyone knows/says bananas go great with chocolate, I've been reluctant to try it since I didn't want to add more chocolate to our meal plan and our five-year old is perfectly happy with the plain banana muffins.

But when I was reading A Homemade Life, which I've mentioned in an earlier post, I knew I wanted to try the recipe for "banana bread with chocolate and crystallized ginger."  I adapted the recipe by eliminating the crystallized ginger altogether.  While it's probably a great combination of spice and added texture against the chocolate, I know my young son wouldn't be into it.  Instead, I decided to substitute with a little bit (3/4 teaspoon but you could use more if you're not concerned about young sensitive taste buds ) of ground ginger. 

I've made three loaves of this banana bread (one is in the freezer) so far.  In one case, I used cinnamon instead of the ground ginger since cinnamon and chocolate is another nice combination.  The spices are not overpowering when used sparingly and adds a nice hint of something to the flavor and balances well with the chocolate.  You can really play around with the spices.  I think ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon are a few good spices to use here.  Next time, I might make a less indulgent version by skipping the chocolate and adding walnuts and some spices.
My husband is a huge fan of this banana bread with chocolate.  It must be the chocolate that makes it a bit addictive to munch on.

I like making these quick breads and muffins because you can do it the old-fashion way by hand with spoons and bowls.  We get the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another and get ready to mix.  I used chocolate chips here for convenience but you can chop up some chocolate and get a more interesting uneven distribution of chocolate throughout.

Be careful not to over mix the batter once the wet and dry ingredients are placed together or the finished product will be tough.  I slightly over mixed the first loaf I made and I'm talking literally just over mixing by one or two strokes.  It really makes a difference.  When in doubt, err on the side of under-mixing.  As you might be able to see below, there are still some specks of flour in certain parts of the batter.  For my second attempt, I stopped mixing at this point.

Into the oven for about an hour and the bread comes out a deep brown color.

I have to confess that my five-year old seems to prefer our old standby banana muffins more than this bread.  I think it must be that sweet muffin top that appeals to him (and us) so much.  Plus, this is a denser bread versus the more cake-like muffin.  But this banana bread is something we'll be making again in our house.

Update: This banana bread has become a family favorite (for those of us who like banana bread) and I've made it more times than I can count since first posting this recipe.  I wanted to note that it does freeze very well.  If frozen, take the banana bread out of the freezer the night before you plan to eat it and set it out on the counter overnight (with its wrapping).  Or if you are really in a rush, you can let it sit on the counter for about half an hour or so and then slice the portion that you want to eat.  Wrap the piece in aluminum foil, and heat in a 400 degrees oven for about 10 minutes or so.

Also, this recipe makes 3 mini (5 by 3 inches - disposable aluminum ones are very handy) loaves.  Spread the batter evenly among 3 mini loaves and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the bread comes out clean.  These miniature versions make great gifts. 

The recipe:

Banana Bread with Chocolate
Adapted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg 

- Makes one large standard loaf or three 5"x3" mini loaves -

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger*
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 to 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (about 3 large) bananas, mashed
1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt, stirred
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* You could also try other spices you like such as cinnamon or nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray or butter a standard loaf pan (or 3 mini loaf pans) with cooking spray or butter. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt.  Add chocolate chips and whisk all together.

In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs lightly with a fork.  Add bananas, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and combine with the fork until evenly blended.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and fold it together with a rubber spatula.  Mix until just combined; do not overmix or you will get a tough bread.  The batter will be thick and lumpy.

Scrape batter into the prepared loaf pan(s).  For a large standard loaf, bake for about 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.  The bread should have a dark brown color.  For mini loaves, bake for about 30-40 minutes using the same test.

Cool the bread on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely. 

I think this bread tastes even better the next day.  It sits very well on the counter, at room temperature, for several days.  You can also freeze it by wrapping with a layer of plastic wrap and then foil.  Defrost it by placing on the counter overnight.  It will taste as good as fresh-baked! 


  1. this banana bread with chocolate looks very yummy and not hard to make, i wish to make this one day...lol

  2. Hi Winnie - you totally can make this. I will give you the detailed recipe. : )



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