Chocolate Banana Bread

chocolate banana bread

I added cocoa to my recipe for 4 Bananas Low-fat Banana Bread or Muffins and achieved the perfect balance of rich banana and chocolate flavor that’s not too sweet. I used four soft, speckled bananas to add natural sweetness to this delicious bread with minimal oil and sugar. The bananas and just one tablespoon of olive oil make this bread very moist.

I used whey from plain yogurt instead of the milk and lemon. But you can go either way. (Pun intended).

Ingredients

1/3 cup 1% or skim milk or a combination of whey and milk

1 tsp lemon juice or 1/4 tsp white vinegar

1 cup unbleached white flour

¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

3/4 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Valrhona cocoa, available in bulk from Berkeley Bowl)

A dash each of nutmeg and cinnamon.

2 eggs

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 Tb turbindo sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)

4 bananas (1 ½ cups mashed)

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

1 Tb olive oil

½ cup walnut and/or pecan pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Add lemon juice or vinegar to milk or milk/whey combined. Let it sit while you are mixing the other ingredients. The milk should curdle, resembling buttermilk. (You can skip this step and use buttermilk or just whey instead if you prefer).

Sift both flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, and flax seed.  Stir well to combine ingredients.

Whip eggs in mixer until well combined. Add brown sugar and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy.

Mash bananas with a fork or potato masher. Add them to the egg mixture, along with olive oil and vanilla. Whip for another minute.

With mixer on low, add half the milk and half the flour mixture, and then repeat. Mix only until ingredients are almost combined. Fold in nuts and strawberries until they are just combined.

Spray a loaf pan or muffin tins with non-stick spray. (because of the low fat content of the ingredients, you should spray paper muffin cups with non-stick spray if you choose to use them.) For extra buttery flavor, wipe a smear of butter at the bottom. Pour in batter. Sprinkle the top with turbindo sugar if desired.  Place on the middle shelf of preheated oven. Bake loaf 50 – 55 minutes, muffins for 35-40 minutes,  just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out somewhat dry. Remove bread from pan and let cool on a rack before slicing.

 

 

Meyer Lemon Triple Ginger Chocolate Gingerbread

dark-gingerbread-with-lemon-and-chocolateLemon and ginger are natural partners, so I added zest and juice from Meyer lemons, along with freshly grated ginger, candied crystallized ginger and powdered ginger for a triple ginger zing in this dark gingerbread.  Cocoa powder brings a warmth to complement the zesty flavors. The warmth of the cinnamon and the candied ginger make up for the smaller amount of sugar than you’ll find in most recipes.

Have all ingredients at room temperature. It’s best to leave the butter and eggs out overnight. If you don’t, warm the eggs in a bowl of warm water and soften the butter by filling a bowl with hot water, empty it and set it on top of the peeled butter cube.

Ingredients: Makes 8 x 8 square pan. You can also make it in an 9 x9 pan.

1 stick butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2/3 cup molasses

1/4 cup candied crystallized ginger, finely minced

3 Tb finely grated fresh ginger root

2 tsp finely grated Meyer lemon zest (the yellow part of the peel)

1 Tb fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp salt

1 Tb ground ginger

1/4 cup chocolate chips

½ cup boiling water

1 tsp powdered sugar to sift on top of baked gingerbread

Preheat the oven to 350◦ Spray a 8 x 8 square pan with nonstick spray, then line the bottom with parchment paper. I set the pan on the parchment paper to measure it and cut it with scissors. Butter the parchment after placing it in the pan.

Mince the candied ginger. Peel the ginger root and grate on a fine hand grater. Grate the lemon zest, using the same grater. Squeeze the lemon juice, measuring 1 Tb.

In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy. I use an electric mixer. Add brown sugar and beat on high speed until lightened in color and texture, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and molasses. Beat candied ginger, grated ginger, lemon juice and zest into the batter.

Sift the flour, cocoa, and spices together, and then add to the batter, stirring slowly just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips, then scrape the bowl and stir again.

Stir boiling water gently into batter.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35 -40 minutes at 350◦ until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Place the cake on a metal cooling rack, and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Slide a thin knife around the sides, and then invert the cake on the rack and peel off the parchment paper. Invert on a plate to serve. Sift a spoonful of powdered sugar on top if desired, or serve with whipped cream.

Hanukkah and Christmas Orange-Nutty Cookies

Chanukah and Christmas Cookies on plate

This mufti-denominational cookie is based on my mom’s Hanukkah cookie recipe. I added some grated orange zest to heighten the fruity notes. The nuts are optional, but I love the crunch of nuts in cookies.

You can soften the butter in the microwave for about 10 seconds if you forgot to leave it out to soften! Crush nuts by pulsing in the food processor or rolling them with a rolling pin as my mom did. They should be tiny, but not pulverized into powder.

Makes about 30 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.

Ingredients:

1 cube butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Finely grated orange zest (the orange part of the peel) of one orange

1 Tb orange juice

2 eggs

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

½ cup crushed walnuts and/ or pecans

1-2 tsp demerara sugar (coarse brown sugar)

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add orange zest and juice and beat again.

Sift dry ingredients together and then mix until combined with the moist ingredients. Stir in nuts until incorporated into the dough.

???????????????????????????????Roll the dough into a large ball, then flatten into a disk with your hands. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for ½ hour. This will harden the butter and make the dough easier to roll.

Preheat the oven to 375◦.

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Lightly flour a wooden board and the rolling pin. Grab a few handfuls of dough and roll it out to about 1/8 inch. Dip cookie cutters in flour, then shake out, to prevent the dough from sticking on them, and then cut out shapes.

Oil an insulated cookie sheet with canola oil. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the cookie sheet. Sprinkle cookies with a pinch of demerara sugar to make them sparkle. Bake the cookies at 375◦ for about 10 minutes until golden. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

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For chocolate drizzle, melt 1/3 cup bittersweet dark chocolate chips in the microwave in a heatproof ceramic or glass bowl. Heat for one minute, stir thoroughly, then heat 30 seconds, stir, another 30 seconds until almost all melted, and stir well. Remove from microwave and let it sit for 5 minutes, then drizzle over cookies.

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Chocoflan!

This Mexican cake is a combination of my two favorite desserts: chocolate cake and flan.  It’s a pretty cool way to make: first you put cake batter in the pan, and then you pour the flan on top. The cake batter rises to the top and the flan sinks to the bottom and absorbs the delicious cajeta (ka-HEH-ta) caramel sauce. The flan doesn’t have any chocolate in it and the cake appears to be untouched by flan. Magic!

I tried making this 3 times until I got the cake right: a moist and richly chocolate. I adapted Kevin and Nancy Mills’  recipe for Devil’s Food Cake from “Chocolate on the Brain”, substituting Peet’s coffee for some of the water, and adding a bit extra vanilla and cocoa.

Ingredients:

3 Tb cajeta. I use Los Mexicanos brand, which is more syrupy than canned cajeta.

for cake:

½ cup brewed coffee (I used Peet’s)

¼ cup water

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (use the best you can find. I use Guittard brand from Berkeley Bowl’s bins)

¾ stick butter, plus about a teaspoon for greasing the pan

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

¾ tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

for flan:

3 large eggs

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 can evaporated milk

2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350◦

Combine flan ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Heat the coffee and water to boiling. Add cocoa and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add ½ the chocolate mixture and beat until well blended.

Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until just mixed. Add the rest of the cocoa mixture and beat on low speed again until it’s blended into a batter. Don’t over-beat or it will toughen the batter.

Butter a Bundt pan (use a nonstick pan for best results) using your fingers. Pour the cajeta in and use your fingers to spread it around the bottom and sides.

Using a rubber spatula, scoop cake batter into the pan, and smooth it out.

Pour the flan on top of the cake batter.

Fill a large roasting pan with about 1 ½ inches of warm water. Set inside of oven on a rack on the lower third of the oven.

Place the Bundt pan inside the water bath (Bain de Marie).

Bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted all the way through the cake comes out clean. The chocolate cake will rise to the top.

Cool right side up on a rack. Then cover with foil and refrigerate overnight, or at least 12 hours. Serve cold.

Run a butter knife around all of the edges of the Bundt pan, then invert pan on a large plate.

The flan will now be on top, with the cajeta melted into it.