Tag Archives: banana

Chocolate Swirled Peanut Butter Banana Bread

When you were a kid, did your parents ever tell you that TV would rot your brain? I can’t remember if mine did or not – does that mean my brain has already rotted? Either way, I watched more TV than I should have as a child, and (most days) my brain works alright.

A few years ago, I made the decision to go without a TV.  Criticized by many and understood by few, it was the right thing for me at the time.  Truthfully, I haven’t really missed it, with the exception of a few odd times.  Besides, I always told myself that if I really wanted to watch TV, I could just go to the gym.

Let’s just say I haven’t watched much TV since my days of “Who’s The Boss?” and my gym membership has remained mostly unused since 2007.

The other day, I made a grave mistake: I plugged my TV into the wall, and – lo and behold – I have cable. Who knew?!?!

Naturally, I did what any good Martha-wannabe would do and I turned it to the Food Network.  “Recipe for Riches” was on – have you heard of it? I hadn’t, but it is a reality show of sorts.  Contestants were competing for the best cake in Canada, and the winner will have their product reproduced under the Presidents Choice Brand.  They also win $25,00o in prize money, if you’re into that kind of thing.

One of the final 2 contestants made this cake called Banana Chocolate WOW cake, or something to that effect.  It was a banana cake with a chocolate filling, and a white chocolate cream cheese icing.  One of the judges commented that her cake was good because it wasn’t as dense as banana breads usually are (clearly, banana cake shouldn’t be as dense), and I’ll admit that while at the end of the episode neither she or the cake WOW’d me (or the judges; she lost so you can save yourself the hour it would take to watch the episode), it made me decide to share my version of banana bread with you sooner rather than later.

What are your thoughts on banana bread? Mine are that it is usually too dense, too greasy, too light, or not enough banana flavour.  I know, I’m so fickle! Don’t you agree though? Many quick breads suffer from the same ailment, but many have not yet achieved the perfect flavour/texture balance.

Until now that is.  Enter my new love – chocolate swirled peanut butter banana bread.  Because really, isn’t everything better with peanut butter and chocolate? 

Oil (canola or grapeseed), buttermilk, bananas, brown sugar, peanut butter (I like natural), vanilla, AP flour, WW flour, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, chocolate chips.

In a large bowl, mash 3 large bananas.

Add 3/4 c brown sugar, 1/3 c oil, 1/3 c buttermilk, 1/3 c peanut butter, 2 eggs, and 1.5 t vanilla, and beat until everything is well acquainted.

In a separate bowl, stir 1 c AP flour, 1 c ww flour, 3/4 t baking powder, 3/4 t baking soda, and 1/2 t salt together.

Stir the dry ingredients in by hand until everything is just barely incorporated.

No one will eat your banana bread if you don’t.

Wondering when the chocolate joins the party? Grab yourself about 1 c of batter in a separate bowl, and sift in 2 -3 T of cocoa powder.

That, my friends, is why we sift. Use a spoon to smoosh the cocoa pebbles (is that a cereal? I was deprived as a child so I’m not sure) through the sieve, then use the spoon to do a little QC on the batter.

But wait! There’s more:

In this instance, “more” refers to about 1/3 c of chocolate chunks.  Did I measure? Ya right.

Stir the batter together, and set it aside.

Grease and flour 2 loaf pans (I doubled the recipe when I took pictures – this bread is in high demand – so please don’t stretch this 4 ways unless you have a hidden talent for multiplying banana bread), and pour about 2/3 of the regular batter in.

Dallop most of the chocolate batter on top…

Top it off with the rest of the regular batter, and whatever you left in the chocolate bowl.  Unless of course you thought the rest of the chocolate batter was for sampling, in which case you go right ahead.

Gently swirl the two batters together.  Make sure you use a clean skewer for each pan so the swirls are equally distinct.

Bake at 350-degrees for about 40-50 minutes.  These babies took exactly 42 minutes in mine.  Aren’t you proud Mom? I used a timer!

In the pan, they smell delicious.

But once I sliced into them?

To me, this is the quintessential banana bread – not too light, not too dense, hints of peanut butter, and a rich chocolate swirl.

Claimed by some to be the best banana bread they’ve ever had, all I can say is WOW.

(Note: Recipe adapted from the wonderful Julie.)

MMMuffins

Not just any muffins, banana kabocha squash chocolate chip muffins to be exact.  If that sounds like a random combination to you…you’re right, it is.  However, sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. As you all know by now, I often feel the need to just create things in the kitchen.  As a young child, my Mom would let me play with bowls of random ingredients and experiment with different combinations, and I still like doing the same thing 25 years later.  So, the other night, I opened up my freezer (shielding myself from the impending avalanche of random Ziploc baggies), and out came a bag with 1/2 c of mashed kabocha squash. What to make, what to make…

Sidenote: My Nana used to throw random bags and containers in the freezer, but she was opposed to labelling them, instead relying on her memory.  Nana was a phenomenal cook and her strategy sometimes worked in her favour, but it also meant that she never knew if her chocolate cake was going to be iced with icing, or with leftover gravy!  A few bad experiments later, my Mother has become militant about labelling everything that goes in the freezer.  I think if you had grown up with my Nana you would understand too.  The only point of me telling you this is that yes, I’m SURE it was kabocha squash (and not, say, butternut or carrot soup) that I used because I label (most) things!

So, speaking of kabocha, have you ever heard of it before?  My sources (i.e. Google) tell me it’s also known as Japanese pumpkin.  It’s a rather ugly squash – picture a squatty dull green pumpkin – but it tastes sweet and you can eat the skin! I roasted one up a few months ago, and after eating away at it for a few days I froze the remainder in 1/2 c measurements…minus the skin.  I debated for exactly 2.5 minutes what to make – soup? cake? souffle? enchiladas?- but when I opened up my fridge and saw some yogurt and a banana quickly approaching the end of its prime, I knew the decision had been made for me.  Yes, my friends, the kabocha was going to become muffins whether it liked it or not.

Something else my Nana was famous for was not being able to replicate anything she had done in the past.  My Mom has often said that as children, they’d love what she made for dinner so they’d ask her to make it again…except she didn’t write it down and couldn’t remember so no two dishes ever turned out alike.  I can appreciate that, because I’m very much the same way.  However, for your benefit, I wrote down the measurements of what I used as I went along so you (and I) can make these muffins again and again and again…if they work out that is.

Here’s what I used:

AP flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, white sugar, brown sugar, flax-seed, canola oil, vanilla, plain yogurt, egg, mashed kabocha squash, banana. Oh yes, and I almost forgot – chocolate chips!!!

Before I show you what I did, I must provide you with a short disclaimer – for those of you that scrutinize each and every photo, you will notice that I didn’t include all of the ingredients in the photoshoot.  That is because I started with what’s in the photo, and then added some extras as I went along – a little creative license, if you will.  It’s just how I roll, ok?

I started with 1 c of AP flour and 3/4 c of whole wheat flour, and then remembered that muffins usually involve some kind of leavener.  I threw in 1 tsp each of baking powder and baking soda, and – for good measure – a good shake of salt (prob 1/2 tsp for you purists out there).  Oh yes, and since kabocha is like pumpkin, I added a tsp of pumpkin pie spice too.  Can’t hurt, right?!

Now, on to the wet ingredients.  I added the 1/2 c kabocha to one mashed banana to get the party started:

Yin and yang = beautiful harmony.

I know exactly what you’re thinking – “But Jaclyn, I don’t have any kabocha squash in my freezer!” Stop your whining. I will hold off on chastising you this time, but …. well, but nothing, really.  You can use another banana or canned pumpkin instead.  I think either would work splendidly.  However, just because you’ve never heard of kabocha doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it, so you need to at least promise me that you won’t judge a squash by its skin and go purchase one soon.  Deal?

Now that those high-pressure negotiations are over (my career in law is on the back-burner, but thanks for asking) we can continue on with our muffins.  You know, one of the nice things about having a blog that you take a lot of pictures for is that you can look back and see what you added.  For example, I know, based on the picture that you’re about to see, that I added 1/2 c white sugar, 1/4 c brown sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 c plain yogurt,  1/4 c canola oil, and a tsp of vanilla to the banana/kabocha mixture.

Alright – you caught me.  I felt so guilty about forgetting the flax in my spinach smoothie the other day that after I mixed up all of the wet ingredients, I threw 1/4 c of it in the muffins to compensate.  Looks I should re-hire my therapist, huh?

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients – which by this point you will have whisked sifted together – or add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Come on now, which is it going to be? These types of quandaries reveal so much about our personalities, don’t you think?

Give the whole thing a stir – but please, for the love of tender muffins everywhere, be gentle!

Friends, I have another disclaimer for you: the next picture may shock you. Please prepare yourself for what you are about to see.

Are you ready?

Alright, here goes nothing…

Yes, it’s true – I added about 3/4 c of chocolate chips to the batter.  SHOCKING, right?!?! I figured since I was using whole wheat flour and flax, it was the least I could do for whoever would end up as the lucky recipients of these muffins.

No time for turning back now folks, I’m in this for good.

Hmmm….well, based on the amount of batter that I have in the bowl, I think I can get 12 muffins out of this batch. What do you think?

Let’s fast forward 20 minutes @ 350 degrees (oh, the magic of the internet!) and see how these turned out.

Hmmm – the look promising.  I think we should try one, for quality control purposes and all.  Any objections? Good.

Well, since I was officially nominated to take one for the team and take the first bite, here are my thoughts.  You should not make these muffins unless you want to have tender, light muffins with a hint of spicy-sweetness and bursting with chocolate to contend with.  I hereby absolve myself of any responsibility; you must make these are your own risk.

Now if you’ll all excuse me, I think it’s that time again.  What do you think will fall out of my freezer next? Your guess is as good as mine.  Maybe even better, depending on how skilled you are at frozen food identification.

P.S. If I make these again – which, let’s be honest, who knows if I’ll ever make them THIS way again – I’d only add 1/2 c of chocolate chips.  I think 3/4 c is just a bit too much.

P.P.S. If you just had to re-read that sentence and then check the “about me” page, I don’t blame you.  I would hardly recognize myself either, but don’t worry, it’s still me in all of my chocolate-loving glory!

Banana Muffins

Muffins are a funny thing. They are usually marketed as a healthy breakfast food, but the average store-bought muffin is not only very high in fat and calories but low in satiety, which is why I usually think of them as glorified cake.  Isn’t it interesting that while most people wouldn’t have a huge slice of cake for breakfast, many of us have no problem inhaling a jumbo muffin from Costco or Starbucks?  And they aren’t even that good!!! Hardly a breakfast of champions, but when you’re hungry they can look so tempting. If only looks weren’t so decieving…store bought muffins are usually sorely lacking in the flavour department.  Knowing this, I’ve tried my hand at making “healthier” muffins – and while edible, they usually taste a little too healthy for most taste buds.  With this in mind, I wanted to come up with a muffin that is lighter but still tasty for the masses, and also that can be thrown together in a hurry and doesn’t leave you wanting real food in 5 minutes.  I think I succeeded, but I hope you try them and let me know what you think.

The cast of characters:

Walnuts, Brown Sugar, Flour (AP + whole wheat), Ground Flax, Butter, Cinnamon, Splenda, Egg, Bananas, Canola Oil, Vanilla, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt

Let’s make the topping first, ok? In a mini food processor, combine 3 TBSP brown sugar, 1 TBSP flour (either AP or WW), 1 TSBP ground flax, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 c walnuts, and1/2 TBSP butter.

Pulse until it goes from this…

To this:

Set this aside, and move on to the muffins.

In a small bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together:

3/4 c AP flour

3/4 c WW flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

In a larger bowl, combine the following:

3 bananas

1/3 c canola oil

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 c Splenda*

*I almost never use Splenda, but I was cleaning out some cupboards today and found a large bag so I decided to throw caution to the wind and use it. You can use just plain white sugar, or another sugar substitute, if you prefer.

Blend the wet ingredients together – I recommend a potato masher, but you can use whatever you want as long as it looks like this once you’re done:

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones…

…and stir gently until the flour mixture has been incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly into a muffin tin.

Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly on the muffins.  I used just under 1 tbsp per muffin.

Bake for 20 minutes @ 375 degrees.

Check out these beauties:

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  Good! I just love it when we’re on the same page.  Makes me feel whole, complete, and at peace with the world.

Go make these for someone you love, or for someone you want to love you.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I hear a muffin calling my name…