Baking and blogging during midterms?
One of the food staples among my friends and me here at school is bananas, one of the few fresh fruits our cafeteria offers. At one point last week, however, we realized that we had an excess of quickly ripening bananas in our dorm rooms. Of course, the logical conclusion we reached was to bake banana bread.
So, Sunday morning, we stole into one of the other dorms – one with a well-equipped, clean, roomy kitchen.
Remember Kathryn from my last post? She is a self-professed “I do not particularly enjoy baking” woman.
This recipe converted her.
What happens when you have a lot of bananas, a 26-oz jar of peanut butter, and two bags of chocolate chips?
Miracles happen, my friends. Delicious, warm, gooey miracles.
As you probably already know, proper baking things are often in short supply in college. Since there wasn’t a loaf pan in sight, I opted for a muffin tin, then decided on a round cake pan. Ok, maybe it was a metal pie pan. Honestly, at this point, it’s a miracle I know where my dorm is and how to tie my shoes. Whatever. That being said, I was a little anxious about it would turn out.
Of course, there was another snafu: no eggs, despite a desperate wild goose chase to procure a few by raiding three dorm kitchens . Not a one. Not even egg substitute. According to someone on Google, however, apparently you can use applesauce and baking powder as an egg in a pinch. Number two on the list of potentially disastrous things in this recipe.
A third “disaster”? Some of the bananas weren’t as ripe as anticipated…banana bread is only as good as its bananas. Again, thanks to Google, that was quickly remedied by throwing the bananas in the hot oven as we mixed all the ingredients. (for the full tip on ripening bananas, see the very bottom note of this post)
So, with great apprehension, Kathryn & I measured, poured, and mixed (in REAL bowls, with REAL spoons and a REAL whisk).
Unnecessary worrying, as usual. As soon as I had a taste of the batter (without any potential of contracting salmonella), I knew this was going to be a great loaf of bread.
I have a thing for peanut butter. It takes me less than a fortnight to finish a whole jar. I pile it onto bananas, toast, apples oatmeal, anything that would taste reasonably delicious with the addition of peanut paste. On particularly stressful days, I throw chocolate chips into a jar and spoon it out. Adding my favorite combination of dark chocolate and peanut butter to banana bread was a surefire way to make my favorite kind of sweet bread…even better.
This bread is scrumptious. Heavenly. Fantastic. Divine. Ambrosial (isn’t that a fantastic word?). Dessert-like, but actually healthy. Sort of like eating a peanut butter and chocolate sandwich…on banana bread. The sugar adds a spectacularly nice crunch (has anyone ever regretted topping anything sweet with sugar?). None of the flavors overpower the others; in fact, they accent one another beautifully.
This is the perfect marriage of banana, chocolate, and peanut butter, the paradigm of baking combinations. And you are invited to this celebration. A mostly guilt-free celebration, I might add: minimal butter, good fat from the olive oil, plenty of fruit, protein from the peanut butter and yogurt. Next time, I want to reduce the amount of granulated sugar – so feel free to use less sugar, more bananas, different kinds if chocolate chips…or more sugar. Whichever.
Because this was baked in a circular pan, the slices themselves looked more like scones than pieces of bread. There’s something more geometrically satisfying about eating a triangle over a rectangle or square.
I’m convinced that only the addition of walnuts or pecans could’ve made this yummier.
Oh, and more peanut butter.
Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
recipe adapted from Joy the Baker
(makes one loaf pan – could also use a round cake pan or muffin tin)
- 1 1/2 cups flour (white whole wheat, all-purpose, or a mixture – I used all-purpose)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe* bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
- 1/3 cup plain or vanilla fat-free Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup all-natural peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 tbsp olive oil (or oil of your choice)
- 2 large eggs or egg substitute (since I didn’t have egg access, I used 1/2 cup applesauce + 2 tsp baking powder)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 – 1 cup dark chocolate chips (depending on your preference)
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup nuts (peanuts, walnuts, pecans, or a mixture…or whatever other nuts you so desire)
- optional brown and/or turbinado to sprinkle on top
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a loaf pan; set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- In a medium bowl, mix mashed bananas, yogurt, peanut butter, melted butter, and oil.
- Add eggs and sugars to the banana mixture until no sugar lumps remain.
- Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until everything is well mixed. Mix in dark chocolate chips and nuts.
- Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and, if desired, sprinkle with brown and/or turbinado sugar. Bake for 55-65 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean (mine was done when the edges started peeling away from the pan).
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes (or eat straight out of the pan), then invert loaf onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Toast, microwave, eat straight from the pan, slather with more peanut butter or melted butter, dip into a cold glass of milk, etc. Devour.
*NOTE: If your bananas aren’t ripe but you’re craving banana bread anyways, place them (skins still ON) on a baking sheet and stick them in a 350 degree F oven for about 45 minutes. The peels will turn black, but the inside will be ripe and sweet (and very easy to mash). Proceed with recipe.
PS: if you’re like me and express your affection for others by giving them food, this is a good recipe to whip up and send, or randomly show up on their doorstep with. It works, trust me.