Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Surprisingly delicious: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

If you are like me, you are probably thinking, banana bread... with chocolate chips? Banana bread with walnuts, fine. Banana bread with pecans, great. But why in the world would you add chocolate chips?

Then again, if you are like me, you are probably thinking, did someone say chocolate?

So, if you find yourself doubting the brilliance of chocolate chip banana bread, I understand. But, I'm telling you, get ready to be pleasantly surprised: this bread is completely delicious.

I generally mistrust things labeled banana 'bread': so often, it is really cake masquerading as 'quick bread'. But this banana bread is different: it is actually a sweet bread. You could eat it for breakfast. I did eat it for breakfast. And it was perfect.

Not only is this bread delicious, it is so easy to make. As with all quick breads, as long as you have two bowls and a spatula, you are in business.

Start by melting the butter, so it can cool by the time you add it to the other wet ingredients. And, I have finally found my favorite way to melt butter on the stove-top: cut it into 1/4 inch pieces or so. That way, it melts quickly, and you don't have to worry about any of it browning before the rest has melted.
Next, in a large bowl, mix up your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. I didn't add any spices: I only wanted pure banana-chocolate goodness in this bread.
Now, grab your bananas.
Peel them, and put them into a different bowl.
Here's the fun part: mash them up. I like to use a potato masher, but a fork would do just fine.
Once those are well mashed, add in your melted butter, slightly beaten eggs, and vanilla.
Next, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. The well helps you mix the ingredients together more quickly. And, have you ever started pouring a batter into a mold, when you realize that the dry ingredients on the bottom of the bowl, aren't mixed in? Well, the well-method helps with that too.
Pour in your wet ingredients.
Now, the next step is crucial: do not overmix the batter. Stir until everything is just combined. Then put down that spatula and walk away. If you stir it too much, your quick bread will end up chewy and dense. Keeping this in mind, I started to wonder why wait until everything is incorporated to add the chocolate chips? Isn't that just asking for the batter to be over-stirred? So, this go round, I started mixing everything together, and about half way through I added the chocolate chips.
But upon reflection, why didn't I just added the chocolate chips to the dry ingredients to begin with? Next time...

Gently stir that all together, until you can't see any flour. The batter will be lumpy, but that is how it is supposed to be.
Pour that into a greased loaf pan. And bake it off.
Let it sit in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing it.
And, there you have it, a surprisingly wonderful chocolate chip banana bread.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (adapted from
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ripe large bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips or dark chocolate chunks*
1/2 cup toasted walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place oven rack to middle position. Grease 9 x 5 loaf pan, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chocolate chips, and nuts. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined and the batter is thick and chunky. (The important thing is not to over mix the batter. You do not want it smooth). Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake until bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes and then remove the bread from the pan.

Serve warm or at room temperature. This bread can be frozen.

*For chocolate chips, I like Ghiradelli 60% cacao

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