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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Going Bananas

We all buy bananas and I suspect that we have all thrown away our fair share of bananas.  Let's face it.  Bananas don't last forever but it always seems a little wasteful to me when I have to toss them.  That's why I have quite a little library of banana cakes and quick breads.  Somehow, if I can recycle the bananas into something delicious, I feel as though all is not lost.  In fact, what's better than banana bread anyway?

I just bought a new Williams Sonoma breakfast cookbook and maybe it was the picture of the banana chocolate chip bread that got me going.  It just looked so good.  I know there are food stylists involved and that the banana bread in the photo probably isn't even edible, what with all the artful touchup that the stylists do, but it looked really good all the same.  So I decided to put those blackened bananas to good use and try out the recipe.

I want you to know that my finished product looked every bit as good as the one pictured in the cookbook. Puffed up, browned, and with a little peek of the chocolate chips and toasted walnuts, it was ready for its close-up.   (I would have taken its close-up but the batteries in my camera needed to be recharged so you'll just have to believe me.)  I used the Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips for this recipe.  I like the softer, creamier flavor of the milk chocolate instead of semisweet chips.  I also really like the shape of the Ghirardelli chips better.  Buy a bag and compare with the other chips, and you'll see what I mean.

This recipe took about two seconds to mix up.  I think it took longer to toast the walnuts (10 minutes) than it did to combine all the ingredients.  And the end result was quite nice.  It certainly gave new life to my old bananas.

Recipe:  Walnut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
(Williams Sonoma, Breakfast Comforts)


3 very ripe bananas, peeled
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.  Line the bottom and long sides with parchment paper.  Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

Using a fork, mash the bananas in a bowl; you should have about 1 cup.  In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a third bowl, using a handheld mixer on high speed, beat together the butter and the sugar until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes.  Gradually beat in the eggs and then the mashed bananas.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternately with the sour cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed, beating until smooth.  Fold in the chocolate chips and half of the nuts.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Sprinkle the remaining walnuts on top.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Turn out onto the rack and remove the paper.  Invert again, and let cool completely.

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