Although I am by no means a picky eater, there are foods that in the past have occupied a place on my "won't eat" list. When I was little, my grandmother often served me regular penne for lunch instead of ravioli, as I had decided I didn't like the ricotta cheese in the filling; I turned up my nose at the sunny side-up eggs my mom made my brother for breakfast, suspicious of the runny yoke; and up until fairly recently, I'd always declared that I disliked citrus desserts (why would you want lemon when you could have chocolate?!) I'm not sure if my taste buds have grown up a little or if I had never given these foods a chance in the first place, but as I've gotten older I've discovered a new found appreciation for them. In fact, on this blog you'll find ricotta pie, quite a few citrus desserts, and this waffle with a sunny-side up egg. People can change, I guess, or at least their palate can.
Banana bread is another recipe that fits into the above category. In elementary school, I struggled to hide my disappointment when the designated room-mother for the month brought in banana bread for snack. Bananas, as far as I was concerned, were to be eaten as were, part of my breakfast or an addition to my lunch box. The idea of mashing them up into a dessert -- and using the squishy, overripe ones, at that! -- did not appeal to my 8 year old self, and for years I passed on banana bread. When I got into baking later on in life, I found myself in the same predicament the second grade room mother had probably found herself in years ago -- we had a whole bunch of overripe bananas in the fridge, and the obvious thing to do was to make banana bread. After trying a sliver of what I had baked, I had to admit that maybe, just maybe, I'd been missing out. This recipe is one of my favorites for banana bread. Besides the fact that it is particularly easy to whip up -- just a little stirring and mashing, and you're all set! -- it is absolutely delicious, fragrant and tender and studded with chunks of melt-y dark chocolate, everything you could ever want to for breakfast, snack, or tea. It is especially good served warm and would be nice with a dusting of powdered sugar, if you want to make things a little fancier.
A couple of notes: If the top of the banana bread browns too quickly during baking, cover it with aluminum foil. You can use either chocolate chips or chocolate chunks here -- I don't love the chocolate chips here in Italy, so I usually buy my own chocolate bars and chop them up in to chunks, which takes a bit more effort but is worth it. You could also replace the chocolate with walnuts or pecans, add a little cinnamon, or leave out the add-ins all together and make plain banana bread. When I melted the butter, I cooked it slightly to make a brown butter (read more about brown butter here) to give a nutty, caramel-y taste to the banana bread, but if you'd like to use plain old melted butter, that would be fine too. Finally, you can make this bread with either 2 or 3 overripe bananas. If you make it with 3 the banana taste will be a bit stronger. Enjoy!
CHOCOLATE CHUNK BANANA BREAD
2-3 overripe bananas, mashed until smooth
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 4x8 inch loaf pan and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the mashed bananas with the butter. Add the egg, then the vanilla, and then the sugar, mixing until everything is well combined. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, and stir until the ingredients are just combined (do not overmix). Stir in the chocolate chips or chocolate chunks. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Let cool completely before serving. Serves 8-10.
Recipe from www.simplyrecipes.com