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Monday, March 15, 2010

Twist!

Me -- I don't like surprises.  No "surprise" birthday parties, no "surprise gifts"...thank you very much.  There is uncertainty in a surprise.

The occasional 'pleasant' surprise is okay, I suppose.
A bright, sunny day when the forecast was rain.  A ten dollar bottle of wine that's pretty good.
Calculations that show you'll get a tax rebate this year.

Truthfully...I find that things go so much better when there's planning.  And things you can rely on.  Without surprises.  Makes me sound a little stodgy, I know.  What can I say...it's part of my tv producer DNA.  Leave nothing to chance.  Plan ahead.  
So, it's logical that I am a follow-the-recipe girl.  No 'surprise' there, ha ha...
I rarely, if ever, "invent" things in the kitchen.  On occasion, I will adapt a recipe, tweaking or correcting according to my personal taste, but hey...there must be a recipe to start with.
 I figure, leave the experimenting to others.

Typically, when a recipe works out really well (also known as "a keeper") I simply throw it into perpetual rotation.

To know me, is to know my biscotti, my chicken soup, my Bolognese sauce.
And, until recently...my banana bread.

I've been making the same banana bread since the 80s.  Talk about something you can rely on.  The recipe, from my original Silver Palate cookbook, now falling apart and held together with a rubber band, is simple and a real winner.  It comes together virtually on its own and the result is a perfectly moist-not-mushy, rich loaf redolent with vanilla, and sans walnuts.  (I am of the opinion that walnuts have no place in chocolate chip cookies OR banana bread.)  It's homey baking at its best and always leaves me feeling virtuous, having using up the icky, brown guilt-inducing bananas that have been sitting on the counter for days.

So a few months ago, I came across a recipe that stopped me in my tracks:  Chocolate Banana Bread.
Now you may laugh and say you've known all about this twist on banana bread for ages.  Where have you been all this time, Marcia?!  Anyone who has thought about banana bread for any length of time has come to the conclusion that the addition of chocolate would be pure genius.  What can I say?  Late to the party...that's me.

I tried it and am now here to tell you that the addition of chocolate to banana bread really IS pure genius, and if you too had not given it much thought, and have your own steadfast, tried-and-true banana bread recipe, I am asking you, no begging you, to consider giving this one a shot.  It's got the same joy of a banana split (which, you have to admit really does rely on the excellence of the chocolate/banana combination) and the delight of a cake-like texture.  It's super easy to throw together and looks simply gorgeous sprinkled with a bit of powdered sugar.

Trust me on this.  Chocolate Banana Bread is going to be "a keeper".  No surprises...and that's just the way I like it.

Chocolate Banana Bread
adapted from Tyler's Ultimate

Makes 1 loaf

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 large eggs
3 very ripe bananas*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
NO walnuts (yeaaay!)

*You can mash the bananas, but I did not.  Instead, I simply broke the bananas into large pieces.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter until lightened, then beat in the melted chocolate, eggs, bananas and vanilla.  Stir in the dry ingredients just until combined; do not overbeat.

Pour the batter into the buttered loaf pan and bake until a toothpick stuck in to the center of the bread comes out almost clean, 50 to 60 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.  Cool completely before wrapping tightly in plastic.  Will keep for several days.

2 comments:

Jane said...

I don't like surprises, either. Did I ever tell you about my 12th birthday?

I made this bread last night, after waiting a few days for the bananas to go beyond ripe. It's on an odd recipe (I was surprised that the sugar and butter is not creamed) but easy and successful. Only mistake I made: cooking it 5 minutes too long, even though your toothpick tip was very clear. (I think I wanted that toothpick to come out bone dry, which is wrong.)

Still -- delicious! Those of us who like our sweets with a little edge will be delighted. The bittersweet chocolate adds a nice layer of sharpness.

I did, however, miss my walnuts. That is where we differ, my friend.

p.s. Please post your Bolognese sauce recipe! I order it out, but have never made one.

Marcia said...

I'll need to hear the story of the 12th birthday, Jane.

Yes --I should highlight "almost" in "almost clean". When I make my old staple regular banana bread I do the same...remove the bread from the oven when the toothpick comes out not gloppy, but kind of sticky/crumby.

Bolognese cooked at home on a Sunday is one of the great joys in life...recipe coming soon.