02 February, 2013

Goin' Bananas!!

At some point, I am in a grocery store.  Inevitably, inside that grocery store, I see bananas and think to myself "We need those, that's a good snack for the sprout and I LOVE naners."So, I buy a small bunch.  Usually no more than 5 bananas.  Somewhere in the next week 1 or 2 of them get consumed, then all of the sudden I am staring down the barrel at 3 or 4 bananas that are very ripe.  But, ask me if I have the energy to deal with them.  No.  28 weeks and 4 days today...I didn't even have the energy today, but I wanted the half shelf back in my freezer.

Just so you know, freezing bananas is a WONDERFUL way to preserve them until a time when you can actually use them.  You bring them to room temperature again on a plate, snip the tip of it off, and from the bottom up (half over the bowl...half over the garbage can) squeeze the banana out into a bowl, leaving all of the juice of the banana falling into the trash with the rind of the banana.  Mash the bananas in the bowl and use them as your recipe directs.  The banana flavor is so concentrated doing it this way, I haven't made banana bread out of a banana withOUT it being frozen prior to use.  After trying it ONE time, I was hooked on strength of the banana flavor!

I came across a recipe the other day when I was looking through my monthly "fix"; the shopping catalog from King Arthur Flour.  It was for Double Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.  The picture of it looked alright, but in order to make it so the Sprout and I could eat it, I had to modify it to be dairy-free.  This is what I came up with...

Double Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
1 c. flour
1 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
4 T. cocoa powder (I used Callebaut)
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. mashed banana (2 medium bananas)
1/2 c. soy "buttermilk"  
1 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life! chips)

*If you use butter that has salt in it, omit the 1/4 tsp. sea salt
**Soy "buttermilk" is made by putting 1 T. of either white vinegar or cider vinegar in a 1 c. glass measuring cup and filling the rest of the way to the line of measure you need.  NO matter how much you need to make, 1 T. is sufficient to sour all of the milk.  Stir it every couple of minutes to make sure it thickens evenly.   

Preheat oven to 350 F

Lightly grease two 3 1/4 x 5 3/4 inch mini loaf pans or one 9 x 5 loaf pan.  If you use a spray like Baker's Joy, wait until right before you add the batter.

Combine flour, soda, salt and cocoa powder in a bowl and whisk together.

In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar together.  Then beat in the egg, vanilla and mashed bananas.  Slowly mix in the dry ingredients and chocolate chips until well incorporated.  Slowly drizzle in the 1/2 c. of soy buttermilk while the mixer is running on lowest speed.

Pour the batter into pans and bake for 45-60 minutes or until toothpick clean.  The mini loves will take less time; about 30-45 minutes.

Remove bread from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 10 minutes.  Turn the bread out onto a rack to cool completely.

The taste will be best if you allow it to cool to room temperature.

I'm not sure if you can tell by the picture but, this bread is fabulously moist.  It really is one of the best banana bread recipes I've ever come across.  No tunneling, zero crumb factor and the banana actually shines through all that chocolate.  Perfect!  The Sprout was requesting some less than an hour after it came out of the oven.  But, this really has to be served at room temperature for the best flavor.  I tried some hot, warmish and room temperature.  As nice as the ooey, gooey factor was on the hot chocolate chips...it wasn't as awesome as the full developed flavor of the rested bread.  Try this out when you have some over ripe bananas that would otherwise end up in the trash.  I promise you'll fall in love!

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