Brownie-swirl Banana Bread
I can’t leave well-enough alone. This banana bread recipe is perfect by itself, but could I permit it to stand alone? No. I had to go and swirl it with brownie batter. I would say that I’m sorry….but, I’m not. Sorry I’m not sorry.
This time of year, bananas ripen like crazy. In just a few days, they can go from a pale chartreuse, to a brown-speckled yellow, to a full-on chocolate brown. Luckily, there are many ways to use up these rapidly-ripening, intensely sweet, flavor bombs, the best of which, in my opinion, is banana bread.
Now, let’s talk banana bread. Plain-old, pure banana bread. The internet is full of great banana bread recipes, and I’m not going to claim that this banana bread recipe is the best or anything like that — no human could possibly bake all of those recipes to declare a clear winner. I will, however, strongly assert that this banana bread is a moist, delicious, variety, that does not disappoint in the banana-flavor department. The coconut oil adds a subtly-nutty flavor that compliments the fruity-sweetness perfectly.
There are a few banana bread tips/tricks that you should know. Mashed bananas and granulated sugar need time to rest together. Mash them together really well, and let them sit on the counter to amalgamate for at least 10 minutes — the sugar will dissolve into the mashed banana, and the result is the creamy mixture that will combine homogeneously with the remaining ingredients. Next, banana bread is a “quick bread.” Quick breads contain no yeast and depend on baking soda and/or baking powder for their in-oven rise, and banana bread batter is far too wet to bake free-form. Thus, select a loaf pan (the LARGEST one you can find), and grease it really well. You must also allow the bread to cool COMPLETELY in the pan, otherwise the warm loaf will collapse. Finally, do not over-mix.
NOTE: I did commit the cardinal sin of quick-bread-baking: I cut into the loaf before it was totally cool. I just couldn’t wait! But really, it’s best to wait to prevent the dreaded collapse. A flat loaf just looks sad.
Now, one could simply stir in some chopped walnuts, or chocolate chips, or raisins, and call it a day (a very good day, for sure), but, why limit oneself to such common variations?! Chocolate and bananas are a killer flavor combo, and marrying a rich banana bread with a decadent brownie swirl is so delicious that it should be illegal. Come visit me in prison.
Before the arrest-warrant is issued, though, here’s a generic swirling how-to (works for cheesecakes, pudding bars, and anything else you might like to make pretty!):
Put your base batter in the pan
Use a rubber spatula to drop large dollops of your “accent batter” — to ensure that your swirl isn’t just superficial, use your spatula to dig into the base batter as you deposit your dollops
Drag a clean butter knife in horizontal lines through the batters, keeping the knife about halfway-submerged in the pan (again, to prevent a shallow swirl)
Remove the knife, wipe any excess batter, then, drag the knife perpendicularly to your previous knife sweeps
Brownie-swirl Banana Bread
3 medium, VERY RIPE, bananas
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted and cooled, if solid form)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (I would say, “optional,” but they’re not)
1/2 pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix, dry
1 egg, room temp
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
splash vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit, and THOROUGHLY spray a large glass loaf pan with non-stick spray – alternatively, you can line the sprayed loaf pan with parchment paper for easy removal.
Prepare banana batter: In a mixing bowl, mash together bananas and granulated sugar (I like leaving some small lumps), and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Once the mandatory 10-minute marinade time has expired, beat in eggs, vanilla, yogurt, and coconut oil. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the sifted dry ingredients, stopping when only a few flour-streaks still remain. Fold in chocolate chips in 2-3 quick spatula swirls — OVERmixing will lead to a tough, dense loaf, instead of a moist, pillowy, banana cloud. Transfer all of batter to the prepared loaf pan.
Prepare brownie batter: In the same bowl you just used for the banana bread batter, make your brownie batter (they’re both going to the same place anyway, so why not save a bowl, ride a cowboy?!). Beat together pudding mix, egg, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Fold in flour, baking powder, and salt.
Prepare the swirl [see above post]: Drop large dollops of brownie batter deeply into the banana batter, ensuring that you do not totally obscure the banana base. Use a clean butter knife to make horizontal drag lines through the two batters, then wipe the knife, and make vertical drag marks.
Bake 50-60 minutes, until a crack develops on the top and loaf no longer appears jiggly in the middle. Let cool IN PAN, on a wire rack for 3-4 hours before even thinking of cutting into your glorious loaf. Trust me, the wait is worth it, otherwise, your loaf will sag like a post-menopausal woman’s…well…never mind.
Store loaf at room temperature, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days.
And yes, as with most baked goods, consider consuming à la mode, with ice cream and sprinkles 🙂
Or…serve with brunch as a sweet side to some savory green eggs and ham!