CHEW THIS! Chocolate Banana Bread

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Saturday, January 4th 2020 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Banana Bread with a Chocolate Twist 
Blaise Doubman

I love banana bread and I love coming up with new and different recipes that not really improve upon the original and familiar recipe but make it better and more flavorful. Did you know that if you use ripe bananas in banana bread, your bread will come out moister and more flavorful? Did you know that if you add extra banana, more than your recipe calls for, your bread will be raw in the middle, while the outside is overdone. Yes, like most everything else in baking, banana bread is a science. Over the years I’ve discovered that cinnamon and nutmeg are good additions to banana bread but so are cardamom, clove and even pumpkin pie spice! Banana bread is versatile, with some people adding a variety of nuts or fruits in the bread, while others may top the bread with a cream cheese frosting. All ways sound delicious, don’t you think? I have even taken leftover pieces of banana bread and transformed them into a delicious breakfast by turning the leftovers into banana bread french toast! Simply use your favorite french toast recipe and substitute the bread for your leftover banana bread! Serve alongside butter, maple syrup and maybe some sliced bananas and you have a delicious and simple breakfast that people will absolutely go crazy over.

When developing this recipe, I wanted something chocolate. I love chocolate and most things that are not chocolate, I wonder in the back of my mind, if they can be transformed into something chocolate. Who wouldn’t love chocolate banana bread? And I’m not talking about adding in some chocolate chips to your traditional banana bread batter. I am talking about turning the whole loaf into a deliciously chocolate banana bread loaf. I added cocoa powder to the batter, chocolate chips and sprinkled some chocolate chips on top just for good measure. Feel free to explore and have fun with this recipe by adding in your favorite flavors. Add a touch of instant coffee granules to exchange the chocolate flavor or add white chocolate chips and pecans to the batter and the top. You can even take this recipe and divide it into muffin cups and bake off little mini chocolate banana bread muffins! Have fun and enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Bread

To achieve oven ripe bananas, place your yellow firm bananas onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place into preheated 300 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

3 large bananas, oven ripe and mashed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup white all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a regular size loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl combine the mashed oven ripe bananas with the melted unsalted butter. Beat in the vegetable oil, packed light brown sugar, large egg and pure vanilla extract.

Add in the white all-purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda and salt all at once. Gently stir until everything is combined.

Fold in the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Place the batter into the prepared pan and gently smooth out the top.

Sprinkle a generous handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips along the top.

Bake, in preheated oven, 60 minutes.

Once baked, remove and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Gently remove from the pan and place onto a piece of parchment paper to cool completely before cutting.

Leftover bread should be kept wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. Wrap in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil if you want to freeze the bread which will last frozen for 1 month.

Ask and Answer: I have gotten a few questions about frying bacon in the past and would like to address them now. So many of you have wondered my favorite method to cooking bacon. Well, until recently, I didn’t care for bacon. Now that I do, I have a simple and delicious way of preparing it that I would like to share. Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the bacon, in a single row, not overlapping, onto the prepared baking sheet. Place into preheated oven and bake 20 minutes. Remove and brush each slice with pure maple syrup. Sprinkle on black pepper. Return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until desired crispness. Replace and carefully drain on paper towels.

Banana Bread Cookies

I love banana bread and these “bites”, or cookies, satisfy that craving without having to bake – and eat – and entire loaf of banana bread! Feel free to replace the chocolate chips with walnuts or simply add both – or leave both out. Totally up to your tastes!

Banana Bread Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed bananas or 3 bananas
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl beat together the soft unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar and packed light brown sugar until the mixture is light in color and fluffy in texture. This will take about 4 minutes.

Beat in the large eggs and mashed bananas. Beat in the pure vanilla extract, baking soda, ground cinnamon and salt.

Fold in the white all-purpose flour and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Place in tablespoon size dollops onto the prepared baking sheets and leave about 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake, one sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 13 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

CHEW THIS! Comforting Banana Bread

Comforting Banana Bread

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, September 2nd 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Facebook Questions and Comforting Banana Bread
Blaise Doubman

I have been getting several emails about my Blaise the Baker Facebook page. Let me clear the air on that subject first before we continue with my column and recipe for banana bread. My Facebook accounts, both private and public, were compromised about a month ago. I thought I had solved the various problems but the problems and issues reoccurred not long after the initial hacking. The safest thing for me to do, for my friends and followers, was to delete both accounts and start over. Facebook will not allow me to start over with my pages until a certain amount of time has passed. As soon as my pages are up and started again I will be sure to let you know the appropriate links so that you can follow along with me again.

There has been a bit of a silver lining in all of this though because it has given me a chance to really sit back and think about how I want to “relaunch” Blaise the Baker and it has also given me this wonderfully delicious recipe for banana bread! How? I needed some comfort after all the hacking news, etc. so I decided that I would develop a new recipe for one of my favorite comforting things – banana bread! This one is simple, delicious and very flavorful. I have several recipes for banana bread, one using a yellow cake mix, one calling for bits of toffee and another that uses sour cream and is studded with cranberries and walnuts. This one though is simple in process and fabulous in flavor. I take the finished bread and cut it into huge slices but feel free to cut the slices according to your tastes, or your level of comfort needed.

Comforting Banana Bread

This banana bread will last for several days when wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature. Lightly toast the bread and smear with unsalted butter or cream cheese for an even more delicious comforting treat.

1 ¾ cups white all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a regular size loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl whisk together the white all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another large bowl beat together the softened unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar until light in color and fluffy in texture. Beat in the large eggs.

Stir in the mashed bananas and pure vanilla extract. Gently fold in the whisked dry ingredients.

Add in the toasted walnuts, if using, and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake in preheated oven for 44 minutes. The top will be split and golden brown in color.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before turning it out onto a piece of parchment paper to cool completely. Cut into large comforting slices and serve.

Ask and Answer: Several people have messaged me to ask more about my position as a “Glen Oaks Health Campus Family Ambassador” and what it means. Lots of you have had loved ones admitted into Glen Oaks in the last several months and remember reading about my position there. What an Ambassador does is basically help represent Glen Oaks Health Campus as a whole. I am here to answer any questions you may have about the facility or address any concerns you may have. I also have written a “business review” of Glen Oaks Health Campus, which can be found on my website, blaisethebaker.com

CHEW THIS! Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, February 4th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

A New Take on Banana Bread…
Blaise Doubman

I love banana bread and I have experimented with countless recipes over the years. There has been banana bread with nuts, without nuts, with sour cream, with extra butter, melted butter, softened butter, a combination of butter and vegetable shortening, brown butter banana bread, banana bread with raisins and even a banana bread made with a yellow cake mix. If you think that is a lot, consider the fifty other versions I have tried but did not want to mention in fear of readership boredom and lack of room. Seriously though banana bread, to me, always needed something extra. No, not cinnamon and no, not extra bananas, that only makes the finished loaf tough in the end, I have tried it! I have always thought it was missing… chocolate!

Chocolate! Yes, chocolate. I am a registered chocoholic and proud of it. Anything and everything, to me, is better with chocolate and this recipe is no exception! It took a few rounds in the kitchen with this recipe before it was perfect but the finished result was well worth the extra time and extra work. My taste testers, shout out to Tiffany at Glen Oaks, loved this so much that they encouraged me to bring it again – that next day! Ha! The bread is baked in an untraditional way, in a 9×13-inch baking pan, but does so because you cut this bread into bars! The combination of the moist flavorful banana bread with the chocolate version is pure and utter heaven for banana and chocolate lovers! I highly recommend you stir up a batch of these!

Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

These really stretch when it comes to cutting serving sizes, so cut the bars small and serve for a large gathering! If you want to freeze the leftover bars, do so by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil before placing into a freezer safe zipper bag. Once frozen, bring to room temperature over night to gently thaw before eating.

1 stick unsalted butter, soft
1 cup white granulated sugar
4 large bananas, peeled and mashed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with a non-stick spray containing flour.

Beat together the soft unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar until light in color and fluffy in texture. Add in the prepared bananas, large egg and pure vanilla extract. Beat well.

Finally, fold in the white all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Measure out a little less than 2 cups of this mixture and drop by large spoonful’s erratically around the inside of the prepared pan.

Add the unsweetened cocoa powder to the remainder of the batter in the bowl and beat well.

Place the now chocolate banana batter in spoonful’s around the batter that has already been placed in the pan. Do not worry about being neat with this. You will see why in a minute.

Now, with the back of a spoon, carefully spread out all of the dollops so that they gently form together and come together into one large even batter service. Next, take a knife and gently swirl the batter together making a marble effect on the top.

Place in preheated oven for exactly 25 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool slightly before cutting, serving and enjoying.

Ask and Answer: I heard from so many of you with my previous column of my chocolate mayonnaise cake and I love and appreciate your feedback! To answer a few of your questions, yes you can use water instead of the coffee, yes you can make the cake in 2 9-inch circle cake pans, the baking time will not change and you may frost the cake with whatever frosting you desire, or simply sprinkle over some powdered sugar and serve alongside a bowl of fruit. I loved hearing your memories of growing up with a cake very similar to mine in your household.

CHEW THIS! Banana Brownies with Caramel Frosting

Banana Brownies with Caramel Frosting

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, July 2nd 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Banana Brownies Perfect for Summer
Blaise Doubman

In my latest recipe development processes I have been taking the typical chocolate brownie and transforming them into something new and different. How new and different? How does strawberry brownies sound? What about lemon brownies? Both of those can be found inside my cookbook – but what about pineapple brownies or even cherry brownies? Brownies can be fruity and light just as easy as they can be dense and fudgy. People are always a little skeptical but once they take a bite they quickly become fruity brownie believers!

I love banana bread and my love for it is what inspired this recipe. Only several days after I developed it, did I dream up the frosting. Why not pair caramel and bananas? I took my foolproof caramel frosting, made a few tweaks and added it to everyone’s delight, including my own! They were fabulous! These are perfect for making ahead too because the longer they sit the more moist they become. If you choose to, make ahead, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few days. Frost the same day you plan to serve.

Banana Brownies with Caramel Frosting

You can frost these, or leave them plain. I think the caramel frosting pairs nicely with the banana flavor. Experiment and have fun with these! Sometimes I will sprinkle a little ground cinnamon in the caramel frosting or even add a can of crushed pineapple for a caramel and tropical flavor. So delicious!

For the brownies…
2 large ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup white all-purpose flour

For the frosting…
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8×8-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl combine the mashed bananas, softened unsalted butter and light brown sugar. Beat until ingredients are combined and light in color and fluffy in texture.

Beat in the large egg, pure vanilla extract, ground cinnamon and salt.

Finally, gently fold in the white all-purpose flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Place in preheated oven for 32 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting combine the unsalted butter, light brown sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Allow this mixture to melt and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add in the whole milk and pure vanilla extract. Cook another 40 seconds and remove from heat. Gently whisk in the confectioner’s sugar.

Evenly pour and spread over cooled brownies.

Cut and serve.

Ask and Answer: I have gotten several messages about how to transform chocolate chip cookies into something a little more special. Here is what I do – I use semi-sweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips in the cookies. Before placing them into the oven to bake, sprinkle the tops of each with a little sea salt. People will go crazy over the combination of the two different types of chocolate as well as the salty on top to pair with the sweet.