Chocolate-Glazed Banana Bread

I love making banana bread. It’s truly one of the easiest things to bake.  And it’s a great way to use all those half-gone bananas that you promised yourself that you would eat when you bought them last week.  Or, if you find yourself with one or two, stick them in the freezer until you have enough to make the bread.  Make sure you tell roommates/spouses/significant others/children that you have started saving the bananas in the freezer.  They might think you’ve gone bonkers when they see the blackened fruit.

One of the things I love the most about banana bread is the fact that it is so versatile. You can add pretty much anything to it.  I’ve added macadamia nuts, chocolate chips, almonds…pretty much anything you can think of.  But what follows is the basic recipe that I use when I make it, without any add-ins.

On to the recipe!

Bread

Here are the Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)

¾ cup sugar

¼ canola oil

1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel (optional)

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

And here’s what you do:

  1. Grease the bottom and sides of a loaf pan; set aside.  In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. In another bowl combine the egg, bananas, sugar, oil, and lemon peel (if desired).  Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture. Stir until just moistened.  Fold in nuts.
  3. Spoon batter into the prepared pan.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove loaf from pan; cool on rack.  Wrap and store overnight before slicing.  Makes one loaf.

I decided to get all fancy and add a glaze this time…I’ve never done this before!  So, here it is:

Glaze

Here are the ingredients:

4 oz of semisweet chocolate, cut up

3 tablespoons butter

1 ½ cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons hot water

 

And here’s what you do:

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.  Stir in powdered sugar and the hot water.  Stir in additional hot water if needed, to reach drizzling consistency.  Spoon over bread.

What I did to the bread:

Instead of greasing the pan itself, I line the loaf pan with foil, then use a cooking spray on the foil.  That way, you can just lift the loaf right out of the pan to cool it.  Nothing sticks!

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I don’t think that I’ve ever used the lemon peel in this recipe, so I can’t tell you if I feel that something is missing when it isn’t added.

The bread can be a little unpredictable when it comes to baking times.  I’ve baked it for a full hour before it was done.  This time, I baked it for only 45 minutes.  If the middle isn’t done, but the top is nice and brown, just cover with foil to finish baking.

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What I did to the glaze:

I was trying to come up with a way to use the extra unsweetened cocoa powder that was in my cupboard, so I came up with the brilliant idea for the glaze.  Most glaze recipes that I’d found called for semi-sweet baking chocolate (like this one), but with a bit of adjusting, it worked out well.  I added a bit more sugar, and had to add a total of five tablespoons of hot water (at three tablespoons, I had a lovely chocolate frosting.  Must remember this recipe for when I need chocolate frosting).

After it had cooled, I peeled the foil from the sides of the loaf, and set the entire thing (foil and all) on a baking sheet to keep the glaze off the counter.

I let the loaf cool completely before glazing.  It was a little runny when I first poured it over the bread, but it was easy to re-spoon the run-off back on top off the loaf.  I did this a few times just to get the majority of the glaze on the bread.

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So, really…how fantastic can chocolate glazed banana bread be?

Very fantastic, actually.

Some of it seeped down into the bread, causing this chocolatey-banana goodness.  The glaze has yet to completely set up, so it’s still a pretty gooey experience when you eat a piece.  This is definitely more of a dessert than something for breakfast, though.

I had a great idea for something I was calling “Elvis Bread”, and I was thinking that Scott would love it since he has such a love for peanut butter.  Alas, it will have to wait until another time.  He wasn’t feeling it…and the peanut butter chips from last week’s bars will have to stay in my cupboard until another time…

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes!

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Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Okay, I’m caving.  I’m posting this recipe because I’ve been asked to.  Repeatedly.  And I would just like to say that it is not mine, I didn’t make it up, I just love making it!  This comes from a place called the Cabernet Inn in New Hampshire.  I’ve never been there, but it looks awesome.  Click http://www.cabernetinn.com/ to see!

Here’s the ingredients:

2 1/3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup chocolate chips
3 large eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups unpeeled, grated zucchini (about 3 medium)

And here’s what you do:

Preheat oven 350 degrees. In a Large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa and chocolate chips. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs slightly. Whisk in oil and vanilla. Stir in zucchini and add mixture to dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Pour into 2 lightly greased loaf pans. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and remove bread from pans. Yield: 2 breads.

My notes:

I don’t change a thing.  Not a single stinkin thing.  It’s good toasted.  It’s good sliced and plain. It’s good with butter.  It’s good with ice cream.  It’s good crumbled up in vanilla yogurt.  It’s been stolen out of Scott’s lunch box by his boss. The batter is good eaten with a spoon.  Not that I would know, of course….one should never consume raw eggs…especially when eating cookie dough….

Expect the batter to be slightly runnier than banana bread.  But it’s oh-so-fudgy when it’s done.

I’ve made this bread with both peeled and unpeeled zucchini.  There are more green bits in it when you leave the zucchini unpeeled, but it doesn’t affect the flavor.  It’s interesting how you can see the shreds of zucchini in the batter before it’s baked, but I’ve never really seen it once the loaf is done.  Maybe it breaks down??  Lord only knows.  I’m no chemist…

Alright, there you have it!  Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend!

Peace, love, and cupcakes!

Chocolate Walnut Coconut Bars – Dessert for a Lazy Day

Chocolate Walnut Coconut Bars

Bars are not cookies, nor are they brownies.  They are delightfully in the middle of the road.  Brownies could be classified as bars, as they are baked in a tray or a large dish, rather than portioned out on a cookie sheet.  Bars normally consist of layering ingredients in a pan and baking.  Hence the reason I call this dessert for a lazy day.  I made it even lazier than the recipe initially calls for.

Ok, enough with the boring dessert classifications.

I made this recipe because as I was thumbing through the stack, this was the only one that made my fiance (Scott) raise his eyebrows and go, “Hmmm” (except for the Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter cookies, but we had peanut butter cookies last week.  Jeebus, he has a one-track mind).  Of course, he does eat most of the things that I bake, so therefor, I cater to his tastes.  For the most part!  He’s a rock-awesome baker too, so there may be a post or two containing things that he’s made in the future.

One more thing – I will always post the recipes as I find them, including all brand names and optional ingredients.  Sometimes I will follow them exactly.  Usually I won’t go with the brands that they state in the recipe unless that brand is the only one that makes that particular ingredient.

 

Onward to the recipe!

Here’s the ingredients:

11 Honey Maid Honey Grahams, crushed (about 1 ½ cups crumbs)

¼ cup (½ stick) butter or margarine, melted

1 pkg. (8 oz.) Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, chopped

1 ½ cups Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut

½ cups Planter’s Walnut Pieces

½ cup raisins

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

 

And here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 X 9 pan with foil, leaving some foil over the edges to easily lift the bars out of the pan once they are baked. Grease the foil lining.  Mix graham cracker crumbs and butter until combined, then press evenly onto the bottom of the pan.

Spread chocolate, coconut, walnuts, and raisins over the crust (in that order).  Pour sweetened condensed milk over mixture in pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool in pan.  Lift out of pan onto cutting board, using foil handles.  Cut into bars to serve.

It says it makes 32.  I didn’t count to see how many I cut.  Sorry.

 

What I did instead:

So, I did a bit of changing to this recipe.  I did not put raisins in it.  It just seemed weird with all the other ingredients.  I substituted a ½ cup of peanut butter chips instead.  They don’t get all melty and disappear into the bar. They keep their shape completely.  And I had them in the cupboard.  You really didn’t think I would get away from peanut butter this week, did you?

I also used graham cracker crumbs instead of crushing the graham crackers.  I’ll use the crumbs quicker, and the work is already done for you.  See? Lazy.

I admit that I did use the Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate because sometimes I am a stickler for exactly following the recipes.  (No lazy?  What the heck?  You created MORE work?).  But chopping was really easy with a big sharp knife that we normally use for cutting up the sides of beef bought at Sam’s Club.  However, after tasting the end product, I think you would be completely fine using semi-sweet baking chips like the ones you buy for cookies. (Ha! Redemption!)  And you will avoid having your hands covered in chocolate.  Unless you’re into that kind of thing.

I did not use the Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut.  You can use any brand of sweetened coconut.  I didn’t use Planter’s Walnut Pieces either.  We use a lot of walnuts, and we’d just been to Sam’s…so generic five pound bag of walnuts it is!  And they freeze well.  Yes, I did have to break them up a little because they were walnut halves, but still…

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After a few minutes out of the oven, these were still a little on the hot side and still pretty gooey.  But the flavor was good.  After they had cooled (cause you have to test them again!), they were much firmer, and all the layers of flavors really started to come out.  Scott said that he would like to have more graham cracker crust on the bottom.  I had enough of a crust, so it would be your call if you decide to add more.

A few notes on ingredients: 

I think I have an addiction to sweetened condensed milk.  I LOVE using it in recipes.  I love that most bar recipes call for it as the last layer.  It’s the glue that holds everything together.  If you’ve never made bars like this before, and are weird-ed out by the fact that you pour it directly out of the can and it pools on top of all the other layers before it is baked like some strange science experiment gone wrong, fear not!  It melts down into the bottom layers and makes everything super moist while baking.  Think of it as body lotion for the rest of the ingredients, cause that’s kinda what it looks like.

I never use margarine in baking.  That stuff is one molecule away from plastic.  Butter comes from cows.  Margarine comes from a laboratory.  No brainer.

Oh, and I use generic store brands wherever I can find it.  It’s cheaper, and normally the same quality.  I know, lazy AND cheap.  But, to my defense, I normally make fudge with Ghirardelli chocolate, so you can’t call me cheap in all cases.

Final decision – definitely a make again!  And the ingredients are very customizable!

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes!

 

Sweet Tooth…

I like to bake.  It makes me happy.  I love to see the reactions on other people’s faces when they eat something that I’ve baked.  It’s a sort of opposite Schadenfreude…get pleasure from other people’s pleasure.

I should really call this Everything But The Cake.  I’m not a cake person.  Cake is ok.  But sometimes, you just get too much of it.  And I haven’t really tasted a frosting that I couldn’t live without.  I know, blasphemy to some of you!  I don’t expect that I will go into the world of cakes here (although I have been known to make a delightful rum cake, and all of its variants thereof), but there definitely might be a cupcake recipe or two along the way.

I have a tremendous sweet tooth.  Luckily, my fiance also suffers from the same affliction!  We found ourselves buying a package of cookies from the grocery store often enough for me to start going through all the recipes that I have collected over the years (and I have a lot), and start experimenting.

So, I will try to post a new recipe every week along with pictures and commentary on how it goes.  Please leave comments, suggestions for new recipes, etc…

 

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m normally not a fan of using premixed ingredients like cookie mixes and cake mixes, but I thought that I would give this a whirl.  I thought it a little strange to use yellow cake mix to make cookies, but hey!  I’ll try anything.

Here are the ingredients:

1 box yellow cake mix

1 ¼ cups crunchy peanut butter

¼ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 bag (11.5 oz) milk chocolate chips (2 cups)

And here’s what you do:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees (or 325 degrees for dark cookie sheets).  In a large bowl, beat cake mix, peanut butter, brown sugar, butter, and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.
  2. On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart.
  3. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are set (centers will be soft).  Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

My comments:

Make sure your butter is soft!  I didn’t put it out long enough, and had to break it up so my poor hand mixer could handle it.  I have a stand mixer that would have made short work of that butter, but I didn’t feel like getting a lot of dishes dirty.  Yeah, I’m lazy like that sometimes.

The batter is drier than I am used to in cookie dough.  I think it’s the peanut butter…So I’m going to call it…This is basically a peanut butter cookie with chocolate chips in it.

I made them smaller than I normally make cookies, just to see if I could actually make the amount of cookies as stated on the recipe.  It stated that one recipe makes 4 dozen.  I made it to 40.  Pretty good, right?  Jesus, they’re some small cookies.  My normal cookies are about 2½” across.  These are about 1”.  Wee little munchkin cookies for leprechauns…

However, they came out really good!  The centers are just chewy enough, and somehow the chocolate chips are still melty, even two days later.

I made chocolate zucchini bread this week too by special request.  That batter I could eat with a spoon.  No lie.  Just me, the batter, and a big spoon.  This recipe I got from a bed and breakfast up in Vermont.  I’ve never been there, but my friends rave about this place, and it’s owners.  And the taste? Think of a fudgey banana bread.  But with zucchini.

Not sure I’ll post that recipe, though….just to be evil!!

Peace, love, and cupcakes!