Chocolate-Marbled Banana Bread

James and I recently tied the knot in front of friends and family. It was a day that was five years in the making — each day of it a delightful step in a journey that continues. You might say that we are a perfect match — like peanut butter & strawberry preserves; cherries & almonds; peas & carrots; or bananas & chocolate…

It really does always go back to food for me, doesn’t it?! Well, it always goes back to food or music, anyway. In my opinion, nothing brightens a room better than a soothing tune or the comforting smell of banana bread wafting all through the house. And, what would fulfill the destiny of the banana better than to be paired with a sexy co-star like bittersweet chocolate?

IMG_0416Making banana bread is very easy. What’s difficult is the two nearly essential elements involved in making it the best banana bread possible:

    1) Wait until your bananas are black-spotted and sweet enough [greenish or perfectly yellow bananas are not sweet enough and won’t taste like bananas once baked]
    2) Cool the banana bread, wrap it tightly, and allow it to sit for at least 12 hours before slicing into it.

IMG_0415From the moment the smell starts to come from the oven, the sweet music begins — beckoning your senses to give in. But, alas, even though that first taste would be sweet, if you wait and let the flavors reach maturity, they’re even sweeter and richer; well worth the wait. (okay, this is turning into a giant metaphor that I did not exactly intend, but work with me)

I’d suggest that you use a high-quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate for this recipe. Milk chocolate or a cheapola chocolate just won’t go the extra mile, taste-wise, in this instance. After all, the recipe doesn’t call for very much chocolate, so you need to use the kind of chocolate where a little bit goes a long way. Semi-sweet chocolate chips will work if you’ve already got some in the pantry.

IMG_0418In our house, fiber is definitely king, so I’m always looking for ways to add whole grains and other sources of fiber to our diet — especially when it can be sneaked in so stealthily via chocolate! Whole wheat pastry flour is a great way to have the health benefits of whole wheat flour without sacrificing texture or rise in baked goods. The grind is much finer and you can use it cup-for-cup in place of all-purpose flour if you choose. Then again, with bananas already packing a fibrous punch, there’s no need to go overboard!

Finally, this recipe is all about art and letting your bread be its own little creation. Have fun swirling those two colors together. Even if you’re like me and aren’t the best visual artist on the canvas or even in the kitchen, let yourself go for a few minutes and swirl your heart out. Once you slice the bread, you’ll be greeted with slice after slice of a unique masterpiece.

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Chocolate-Marbled Banana Bread
adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
serves 12-14

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 cup butter, softened
    1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 medium bananas)
    1/2 cup egg substitute
    1/3 cup fat free Greek-style yogurt
    Cooking spray

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. (A 9×5-inch loaf pan will also do, but you’ll need to adjust the cooking time appropriately; a larger pan will need a little less baking time and won’t rise quite as high, of course.)

    In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, and salt.

    Place chopped chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stopping to stir each time, until chocolate is melted. (be careful, it’s really easy to scorch chocolate in the microwave) Stir until completely smooth; allow to cool to about room temperature.

    Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add mashed banana, egg substitute, and yogurt; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beating at low speed just until moistened. (definitely don’t overdo it)

    Add 1 cup batter to cooled chocolate; stir until well combined. Spoon chocolate batter alternately with plain batter into the prepared pan. (I usually add 1 spoon of chocolate for every 2 spoons of non-chocolate, but that’s just me being miserly about it.) Swirl batters together using a knife.

    Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Once cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and allow to sit for at least 12 hours. Keeps best in the refrigerator if you intend to keep it for more than 2-3 days.

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~ by Jason on June 17, 2010.

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