What is it about banana bread? It’s a banal comfort food but it continues to be a popular choice at places like Starbuck’s, beating out more exciting confections such as cupcakes and mini vanilla scones. Is it because we think of banana bread as healthy because of the bananas? And yet we pay no penalty for “health” by eating it — the way we do when we eat those nasty low-fat or fat-free scones and such. The crunch of the walnut, of course, is priceless, and I’m sure I was thinking of my Mom’s amazing brownies when I created the recipe below for Chocolate Walnut Banana Bread. It’s still baking as I write this! I have no idea how it will turn out!
Banana bread is certainly thrifty. I have already talked in earlier posts about how baking with bananas is almost mandatory for people who buy bananas. It’s apparently humanly impossible to eat all of your bananas before they turn to brown goop. But fortunately, the brown goopy phase is the perfect one for blending bananas into recipes (see my earlier post about banana muffins for my technique).
I’m not bored with regular banana bread recipes per se, but I did want to try something new and different with this particular overripe banana! I was inspired by Banania, a wonderful French children’s breakfast drink that contains all a child needs for a healthy start to the day — banana, grains, and of course, chocolate! Seriously. In Europe chocolate is considered a healthy and necessary breakfast food. My friend Ruth said she has read French articles that urge chocolate-free Moms not too feel too guilty about depriving their offspring of this important food group. (!!!)
I’m sure you could make a kick-ass banana bread with actual Banania but unfortunately, I don’t have access to France and my last box (from who knows how many years ago) is empty and just a souvenir for me now of how “open-minded” the French are about images of other races. If you search this product online you will see some truly alarming images on the Banania boxes through the ages. The current one would be OK I guess — if you didn’t know what proceeded it!
Chocolate Walnut Banana Bread
1 mashed up ripe banana (about 1 cup)*
1 1/2 cups of Bisquick (I used Heart Healthy in the white box)
1 cup of walnuts
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of sweetened cocoa powder (I used Guittard drinking chocolate)
1 stick melted Earth Balance or butter
* I soaked my mashed up banana in hooch overnight, which my mother likes to point out is not necessary! But neither is adding vanilla extract, you know?
Preheat your oven to 350.
Mix all ingredients in one big bowl. Butter (Earth Balance!) and flour two medium-sized loaf pans well. Pour the batter into the pans — trying not to eat it on the way down. (Yes, I know, raw eggs, blah, blah but this batter is good!). Bake until a toothpick to the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
Remove your baked breads to a rack to cool and run around the edges with a knife (or frosting squirrel — see photo). Once they have cooled a bit, they can be decanted on to the rack to finish cooling.
I used a large and a small loaf pan and I have to be honest, this bread is a bit dryer and cake-ier than I like a fruit bread to be. You know who would love this bread? My friend, the Indie rock genius, Willie Wisely. He is currently involved in something called, Coffee The Musical (that you too can be an investor in, visit the WordPress blog), which I guess means he is also soon to be a genius Broadway composer…Or maybe performer? He’s in the pilot episode of Six Feet Under, one of my favorite TV shows ever. He’s surprisingly versatile, that one.
Come to think of it, this chocolate walnut banana bread would be best with coffee — and Willie would approve of the fact that almost all of the ingredients (starting with the banana) were organic. I think I will freeze it and bring it to him and his family next time I am in LA. because he’s also an insane chocoholic. Too much information? Hey, I didn’t invent the Internet, I just use it. And Willie is basically a public figure — at least in Minnesota where I believe they also get the Internets.