Saturday, January 22, 2011

Kids Bake Banana Bread with Cocoa Nibs

Banana bread: it's so darn irresistible

By Ed Bruske

aka The Slow cook

Is there anything more fun than smashing bananas with a potato masher?

My wife, who hates bananas but loves banana bread, urged me to try this recipe with the kids in my food appreciation classes because "it's so easy." I suppose you could say that about banana bread in general. This is how we dispose of our over-ripe bananas. If they get too ripe and we don't have a spare second to make banana bread, we put them in the freezer for later.

Kids who wouldn't touch a banana with a brown spot on it are still mad for banana bread. Bananas just keep getting sweeter as they get older. (Not necessarily true of people, eh?)

This is another example of a delicious treat made with a chemical rise--baking soda combined with a bit of tangy yogurt. I also used this as an opportunity to introduce the kids to something called "cocoa nibs." Are you familiar? These are bits of unprocessed, unsweetened cocoa beans. Whole Foods carries them. They're not cheap. But they help produce a banana bread that's not so sweet it sets your teeth on edge like some do, and they give the bread a nice toothsomeness. Otherwise, you could substitute chopped walnuts if you prefer.

Smashing bananas is great fun

As always, we mix the dry and wet ingredients separately. In a large mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, 1/2 cups cocao nibs, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt.

In a second bowl, beat two eggs, then add 3 very ripe bananas (peeled, of course). Crush the bananas with a potato masher until they are almost liquid. Stir in 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 6 tablespoons melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mix and stir just until everything is completely incorporated. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and dust it with flour. Then pour the batter into this and place on a rack set in the lower-middle of a 350-degree oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean, about 55 minutes.

Remove the loaf from the pan and set on a wire rack to cool. Personally, I like my banana bread smeared with cream cheese. The kids had never heard of this, but once they tried it, I couldn't keep them away from the cream cheese.

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