Chocolate Banana Bread with Cocoa Nibs and Hemp Hearts

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Why so many banana recipes? In the interest of full disclosure, whenever we go to (insert name of big box wholesale retailer here), we will get at least 5 to 6 bunches, yes, bunches, of bananas, because this happens to be my kids' definition of fast food. Joy and Michael puts them in their smoothies. Monique can have up to 5, Joy's record is 6, and I'm talking per day here. Even my S.O. takes a few to work. It really is nature's ultimate fast food. It comes with great packaging, it's insulated to a certain temperature, and it's really satisfying. What's not to love about the humble banana?

And me? I feel guilty for taking food away from kids, so I rarely have them, and when I spot them getting spotty, my eyes start gleaming, because that invariably means I can use them for banana bread. Yay! And I won't have to hide bananas in my room waiting for them to ripen. LOL! I first thought it was sad, now it's just hilarious! But that's what it came down to sometimes. 

So yes, I now have bananas for banana bread, the spotty, soft, almost black, or sometimes even black bananas that no child can bring for fear of soiling the textbooks in their backpack. This time, though, I felt a chocolate banana bread was in order. Just because. And look how it turned out. Moist and rich, with that amazing banana aroma, and the subtle crunch of cocoa nibs on top. It was almost a guilty pleasure.

This loaf is dark as night thanks to the super dark Camino cocoa I used. Fair trade and organic, ahem! I really love how it makes all my baked goods look super decadent. Yes, there are chocolate chunks in this loaf, dark on dark, so you can't really see them, that's why I cut down on the sugar, preferring the chocolate to shine and sweeten.

And of course, feel free to use chopped walnuts here, half a cup will do wonders. Also, in the absence of texture to top the loaf with, use chopped walnuts. It perks up the dark loaf instantly, making for increased visual appeal. After all, you were going to post a picture somewhere, weren't you?

150 g (1-1/4 cup) all purpose flour
60 g (1/2 cup) Dutch processed cocoa
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
100 g (1/2 cup) light brown sugar
115 g (1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
60 ml (1/4 cup) buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
180 to 240 ml (3/4 cup to 1 cup) mashed bananas, from about 3 large over-ripe bananas
90 g (1/2 cup) chocolate chunks
2 tbsp cocoa nibs (optional), to top
2 tbsp hemp hearts (optional), to top

1. Preheat the oven to 175C or 350F.
2. Butter and flour a 22x12 cm or 9x5 inch loaf pan.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set this aside.

4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and the sugars until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
5. To the wet ingredient bowl, add the melted butter, then the buttermilk, beating until just combined.
6. Follow with the vanilla, then mashed bananas, mixing until just combined as well.

7. Fold the flour into the wet ingredients in two additions, taking care not to overmix.
8. Add the chocolate chunks, and mix lightly until just evenly distributed.

9. Transfer the batter into the loaf pan, tapping on a towel-lined countertop to remove any air bubbles.
10. Sprinkle with cocoa nibs and hemp hearts on top.
11. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
12. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Wait for the loaf to cool before slicing. It's hard, I know. Only because it will crumble so bad when you slice into a hot, or even warm loaf. Speaking from experience, of course ;)

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