Monday, August 2, 2010

Cocoa-Nana Bread

A few days ago I found myself in a position that people who buy bananas from time to time find themselves in: with having a few overripe bananas on hand that weren't appetizing to eat on their own.  My first inclination was to make regular banana bread, but after perusing my baking books I decided to try Dorie Greenspan's cocoa-nana bread instead.

Cocoa-nana Bread

On first glance at the recipe, I thought I read coco-nana bread, and figured coconut was involved (a coconut-banana bread still sounds yummy to me).  However, I soon realized that we were talking about a dark and rich chocolate banana bread, dotted with small chunks of chocolate.  Well, that sounded pretty darn good, too.

Cocoa-nana Bread

The only change I made to the recipe was to use 1/2 cup of granulated sugar rather than 3/4 cup (the amount of light brown sugar was unchanged).  Oh, and I used dark chocolate rather than bittersweet.  Also, it should be noted that when I was searching for this recipe online, I realized that someone had posted a mis-transcribed copy of the recipe, which then got disseminated over and over.  I don't know if my posting this "correct" version (as double checked with the book) will do any good to help with the misinformation out there, but I'll try.  Basically, the recipe calls for unsweetened cocoa powder, not semisweet cocoa powder (I've never even heard of such a thing, which might all be for the good, as people can't use something they can't find).

Cocoa-nana Bread

I loved how moist and soft this bread was.  It has a very intense flavor, so chocolatey that it's possible some would want more of the banana flavor to come through.  Next time I'm going to try it with 3 bananas.  Also, for me, one slice goes a long way.  Dorie suggests eating it for breakfast, and it is great with a hot cup of strong coffee (if you're sensitive to caffeine this combo might be too much for you!) or a glass of cold milk.  But I also find that it's a lovely late afternoon pick me up as well.

Cocoa-Nana Bread (recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 8 tbsps (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 1/2 cup store-bought chocolate chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan and place it on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of the other. (This extra insulation will keep the bottom of the bread from over baking.)
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  3. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute, until softened. Add the sugars and beat for 2 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. At this point, the batter may look a little curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the mashed bananas. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Still on low speed, add the buttermilk, mixing until it is incorporated. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Scrape the batter into the pan.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. Cover the bread loosely with a foil tent to keep the top from getting too dark, and continue to bake for another 40 to 45 minutes (total baking time is between 70 to 75 minutes) or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the bread and unmolding. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

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