Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Banana Bread Stuffed with Chocolate, Toasted Walnuts and Dried Fruit

It's a good thing it's so delicious because, let's face it, banana bread is the ultimate desperation dessert. I don't know anyone who sets out to make it, buys bananas, waits until they they are this close to spoiled, and then declares, "Okay, let's do it!" No, it's the opposite. We buy the bananas in total optimism that they'll be eaten when just ripe--and we forget about them. Then, when they reach that sad blackened state, we panic and think, "Yikes! Okay, looks like I need to make banana bread."

Or maybe I'm just revealing something about myself. Recently I ended up in the ER after having an allergic reaction to...something. It's still a mystery. Because of that and the abundance of drugs pumped into me that took their own toll I temporarily put myself on a BRAT diet. That's bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast for those of you who have been lucky enough to escape various stomach issues. After almost a week with no allergic eruptions, I started moving on and forgot about the bananas as I ventured back to tangerines and apples and newly ripened oranges on my tree. The bananas languished until, yes, I realized, "Yikes! Okay, looks like I need to make banana bread."

Not banana-bread ready. I vow to eat these when ripe!
I have a recipe going back to college that's very straightforward. I love it. I don't recall where it came from but it's simple and easy. But over the years, I've come to want more flavors and textures in my banana bread. So, I usually scrounge around my pantry to add some lushness to it. This time I found both milk chocolate and very dark chocolate chips. And a bag of Trader Joe's "Triple Fruit Treat"--dried mango, cranberries, and blueberries.

Then I toasted up some walnut pieces. That combination seemed just right.

With this bread, you do the usual: Sift together the dry ingredients. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the rest of the wet ingredients. Finally, combine the dry and wet and add the goodies. Pour into a greased bread pan. Bake. Eat.

Now this is rich enough without enhancements. The bananas make the bread nice and moist and the batter readily accepts the nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit. Each bite has some wonderful mouth surprise. But try toasting your slice and then slathering some homemade cultured butter on it. Oh, you'll be so happy you let those bananas go bad. Maybe next time you'll even do it on purpose.

Banana Bread Stuffed with Chocolate, Toasted Walnuts, and Dried Fruit
Yield: 1 loaf
(printable recipe)

2 cups sifted AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 medium-size ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour milk or buttermilk
1 cup chocolate chips (try mixing milk with dark)
1 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1/2 cup dried fruit pieces

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Cream together butter and sugar.
4. Add eggs, mashed bananas, and milk to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well.
5. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix well.
6. Gradually add the chocolate chips, walnuts, and dried fruit. Mix well.
7. Pour into a greased bread pan and bake for an hour. It's ready when a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean. Let cool and then turn out of the bread pan.

Note: The bread is freezable.

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