Category Archives: chocolate

Coffee Hour Banana Bread

My neighbor Julie and I have a semi-regular coffee hour, though it’s become increasingly less regular lately. I bring cookies or brownies if I have them on hand, and if there is nothing else there are almost always overripe bananas on one of our counters or in one of our freezers. (I’ve been known to buy extra bananas so that they will get overripe and I’ll have them to bake with. She’s been known to find free ones at the co-op. Either way, overripe bananas are good to have on hand.)

Despite the calendar saying summer, it’s been cool and rainy here for too many days. I find myself drinking more coffee than I should just for warmth and wanting sweet comfort foods. Yesterday I made banana bread with chocolate chips. I have three banana breads that I really like:

  • my friend Kate’s greatgrandmother-in-law’s recipe that toasts up nicely and is great with peanut butter
  • Molly Wizenberg’s banana bread with chocolate and crystallized ginger from her Homemade Life (though in looking on her blog for the recipe to link to I found this, which I think I’ll have to try)
  • Julie’s recipe, which is what I decided to make.

I like banana bread as a bread, but this makes great muffins too, which need only 20 minutes of bake time (a plus in summer heat if you happen to get any of that or when you need coffee hour to start now! not in an hour). If you’re too lazy to spoon out muffins, but don’t want to wait an hour, pour the batter into a cake pan. It’s pretty versatile.

Coffee Hour Banana Bread

  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1+ c. mashed ripe bananas (about 4 small–medium bananas)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. white flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Grease loaf pan (or muffin tins or cake pan).  

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Add bananas and vanilla and mix well. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl (I admit, I’m lazy and often don’t do this.) Add dry ingredients to the banana mixture and mix until just blended. Fold in the chocolate chips. 

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake loaf for about an hour, muffins for about 20 minutes, and cake for about 30 minutes. Top should be golden and a tooth pick inserted in the center should come out clean or with a few crumbs but no goopiness. Cool as long as you can stand it before serving.

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If You Lived Here*, You’d Be Drinking Sangria Right Now

A Birthday Dinner Menu with Chocolate Cake

If you still lived here, you’d come over for birthday dinner. The weather would be perfect (not the cold damp it really is), and we’d have a fire in the chiminea. (Our children would be taken care of and nobody would wake up yelling mommee, mommeeee! And while I’m dreaming, they’d sleep late the next morning too. )

We’d drink sangria and eat tapas (which somehow we are cooking and enjoying while outside by the fire).

We’d have olives and cheese to start. Then we’d eat spanish tortilla and garlicky shrimp (I’ll forget for a moment that you eat neither eggs nor shrimp. It’s my birthday after all). We’d have roasted tomatoes with garlic and olive oil and grilled asparagus. We’d have cheesy stuffed portabellos. And we’d sop up olive oil and juice from all our food with bread.

Then, feeling really full, we’d have flourless chocolate cake with raspberries and barely sweetened whipped cream. (And since the kids are sleeping in we have dark roasted coffee with plenty of cream.)

Given the title, I should be writing about sangria here, but what’s a birthday without cake.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 stick butter (every recipe I’ve looked at calls for unsalted, but I always have salted on hand and use that)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 375° F and grease an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan (a springform pan is great, but not necessary) pan. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper (This is important especially if you use a regular cake pan as the cake is quite likely to stick).

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In the top of a double boiler, melt chocolate with butter over barely boiling water, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk until fully combined. Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder to the chocolate mixture (if you are not lazy, sift the cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture) and whisk until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in middle of the oven for 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

This is dense and rich and excellent as I described above with raspberries and whipped cream. It also makes a truly decadent layer cake described below.

Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Butter Frosting and Ganache Glaze

Make two flourless chocolate cakes as described above.

While they are cooking or even before, make the filling. (It takes a while to chill.)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup butter ,softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa powder and blend well. Gradually stir in the milk, and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (I find it usually takes longer) or until thoroughly cool.

In a large mixer bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until well blended. Gradually add cooled chocolate mixture. Beat until light and fluffy.

Make the glaze.

  • 3/4 c. whipping cream
  • 8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Place the chopped chocolate in a heavy, heat resistant mixing bowl.

Place the cream in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. While stirrring, bring just to a boil, stirring. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Put it all together:

Place one cake on serving plate (you can frost the plate under it lightly to keep the cake from sliding). Spread a thick layer of frosting on top of the first cake. It’s optional to cover with raspberries, but I like the way the raspberries break up the chocolate a little. (I usually use raspberries I’ve frozen myself, though I’m sure fresh would be fine. My experience with commercially frozen raspberries, has been that they leak a lot more juice—and don’t taste as good.) Place second cake on top of the frosting/raspberries. Pour glaze over cake and smooth with a flat spatula. You can use any extra frosting to decorate top and sides of cake.

Cut small slices as this is really rich.

*I try not to start things with “if you still lived here,” but I will today, just for my birthday.