Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips & Walnuts

Banana Bread muffins to be exact. It’s not the kind of thing you can plan to make. It has to happen because you got carried away and bought more bananas than you could eat, and then you went out of town for a couple of days, and then came back to bananas that looked like this:

And that’s when you know that special time has come. It’s pretty exciting. In my own humble opinion, banana bread is a bummer without chocolate chips. We had a neighbor when I was growing up who made us a loaf one time and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Over the years I’ve tried various recipes, and finally, it’s happened – I’ve found the best banana bread recipe ever. So, check it out – it starts with 1/2 cup (100g) of unsalted butter at room temperature and a cup of sugar. Cream them together ’til they’re that nice light yellow color. Then add 2 large eggs, one at a time, mixing each one.

One. And Two.

Then mash up those over-ripe bananas (minimum 2, but I used 4 for extra moisture, sweetness, and all around banana goodness) using a fork, or a potato masher. Add it into the butter, sugar, egg mix. Also, add 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Now it’s time for the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/2 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the dry to the wet and mix until fully incorporated.

Now add semi-sweet chocolate chips (about a cup).

And chopped walnuts (or not – up to you – about half a cup).

Now you can put this into a loaf pan – you’ll probably need two, but I’m not sure because I always make them in cupcake molds. I have these super cool silicone cupcake molds shaped like hearts. They are good because they are reusable and don’t stick, so you don’t have to put any cooking spray in them.

These go into a 350ºF (176ºC) oven for 12-15 minutes until they are golden brown on top. Like this!

This mix made 16 muffins. That’s a lot of yummy muffins to have around tempting me…

Anyway, now you know what to do when your bananas get too ripe. Try it, you won’t regret it.

Now, here’s the ingredient list:

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup ripe bananas, mashed (more makes it more moist!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Props to epicurious.com for this one (link)

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Strawberry and Chocolate Chip Scones

Last summer I ate the best scone ever. At Arzimendi Bakery in Emeryville. They have the best pizza and some of the best baked goods. Anyway, this scone attracted me because it was a strawberry and chocolate chip scone. Sounds amazing, right? It was. So for Sunday brunch-day, I decided to pay homage and attempt to replicate.

Using a basic blueberry scone recipe from foodnetwork.com, I substituted blueberries for chopped fresh strawberries (which oddly, I found even though it’s 20 degrees out and definitely not strawberry season) and chocolate chips. The only small problem I ran into is that strawberries release a lot of liquid, so my dough was quite wet and hard to handle, but the outcome was still incredible and moist. They just don’t look as perfect and pretty as scones usually do.

So, since I can’t leave any recipe alone, I made another substitution other than the choice of filling – I also substituted cream for 1/2 plain yogurt and 1/2 milk. This makes something similar to buttermilk, and while not necessary, a little healthier while still guaranteeing moist baked goods.

This recipe is pretty straight forward, the only trick is to cut cold butter into the dry ingredients so that the flour is full of little butter pieces (just like you’d do when making a pie crust). This is important so that when it bakes, the butter melts and forms air pockets which add moisture. That could be the difference between a light flaky scone and a dense pasty one.

Here it is uncooked. As I said, it’s a bit sticky because of the strawberries, but as long as you don’t over work the dough, it’s not a problem – they stay whole and don’t dye all the dough pink.

I had a bit of coconut milk left over from that delicious soup in the last post, so I brushed the tops of the unbaked scones with that, rather than cream, and then sprinkled a little sugar on top.

Just look at that deliciousness. They are still warm and the chocolate is melted…

Here’s how to make it:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk

Mix dry ingredients and cut in butter using a fork until it looks like coarse crumbs. Fold in strawberries and chocolate chips carefully so as not to mash the fruit (the color will bleed and make the dough pink). Mix yogurt and milk in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add in yogurt and milk mixture. Gently combine to incorporate, don’t overwork the dough.

On a lightly floured surface, press the dough into a rectangle about 12 in x 3 in x 1.5 in. Cut the rectangle in half and then each half in half again. Cut each quarter diagonally making 2 triangles. Makes 8 scones.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet and brush the tops with coconut milk (or plain milk/cream) and sprinkle white sugar over top. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.

Enjoy!

*Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence on foodnetwork.com (link)