today’s taste: chocolate chip banana bread
Readers, can you believe that it’s already fall? I know what the calendar says – and, more importantly, what the Starbucks menu says. But it’s 78 degrees today in California, and even though I’m not a student reluctant to give up summer vacation (those were the days), I’m not quite sure I’m ready to acknowledge the change of season. (However, I refuse to comment on my recent drink choices at Starbucks.) So, the pumpkin, apple, and pear recipes are coming, I promise – just not today. Actually, today’s recipe – chocolate chip banana bread – does tee up autumn flavors nicely, without going full throttle. The warm, aromatic additions of cinnamon and allspice will make your kitchen smell heavenly and feel cozy and have you reaching for a thick blanket and PSL in no time.
Before I share this recipe, I want you to know one thing about me: I’m extremely suspicious of “healthy” substitutions in desserts. As a general rule, I do not accept tradeoffs between calories and flavor (or texture, etc.). Now, my boyfriend will read this (I hope…) and point his finger at me and say “almond milk!” Which is fair, because I do love almond milk, and he is a cow’s milk loyalist. (His favorite refrain: “how do you milk an almond?”) Even so, in baking, I stick primarily to cow’s milk. I’m a purist. Which brings me to my main point; very few desserts can be uncompromisingly delicious as well as “healthy.”
This is one of them.
Because you’re not baking banana bread for a diet, let’s start with the taste. As I mentioned, the spices are key. The cinnamon is a given – it cuts and contrasts the sweetness of the banana. The allspice, however, is a standout. Sometimes labeled as “Jamaican allspice,” it’s often used in jerk seasonings, curries, and other savory meat dishes. Don’t be misled by the name: it’s not a mixture of spices, but rather comes directly from the allspice berry. (Fun fact: allspice is the only spice produced exclusively in the Western Hemisphere. Some trees were once transplanted to Europe, but were cut down during WWII. Stay tuned for more anecdotes from a nostalgic History major.) It’s warm, sweet, and fragrant, and marries well with cinnamon, nutmeg, and other flavors of fall – not to mention, bananas! As for the bananas – be sure to use bananas that are very ripe and heavily speckled. Allowing them a couple extra days to ripen ensures the loaf will be sweet, moist, and rich with banana flavor.
From the “healthy” perspective: replacing the oil you typically see in banana bread with yogurt is a great way to reduce fat without sacrificing the classic texture. Including ground flaxseed actually adds health benefits of omega-3s and fiber to your bread. Plus, it’s “banana” bread, after all. If fruit is in the name, it should be good for you, right?
This banana bread is as adaptable as it is tasty, so feel free to mix in walnuts, cinnamon chips, or coconut, and top with peanut butter, chocolate, or Nutella – be sure to share your favorites. Happy baking and happier snacking!
- 1 ½ cups mashed ripe banana (3 bananas)
- ⅓ cup plain fat-free yogurt
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup ground flaxseed
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅔ cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9x5-inch loaf pan.
- Combine bananas, yogurt, butter, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Add sugars; beat until blended.
- Combine flour, flaxseed, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Fold flour mixture gently into banana mixture; stir just until combined.
- Fold chocolate chips into batter; pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool completely on wire rack.
- Add any desired mix-ins, including coconut, cinnamon chips, walnuts, or pecans.