Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (with a Secret Ingredient), and a Carrot Souffle

Isn't it amazing how over-ripened fruit can make something as wonderful as banana bread?  It makes me wonder who the first person was to think of using some brown, mushy bananas that no one wanted to eat on their own, and turn it into such a well-known and loved treat.

Another great thing about banana bread ...  it's really just cake in disguise.  But if you call it bread, then you can eat it for breakfast, too, and not feel as guilty as if you ate a piece of leftover chocolate pie before it's even 10am and you haven't even had your second cup of coffee.

I have a few banana bread recipes that I've used over the years, but I wanted to try something new, and while doing some perusing of other recipes, found this one by What Katie's Baking, which in turn led me to this one by Smitten Kitchen.

What Katie's Baking adapted hers from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted hers from Simply Recipes ...  So whose recipe is it really?  I'm not exactly sure anymore.  I made some of my own adjustments, too, so this is an adaptation of an adaptation of an adaptation...

I love this recipe, though.  It was so moist and flavorful, full of sweet banana-y goodness, rich with chocolate chunks (I highly recommend chunks and not chips, so that you get bigger pockets of chocolate throughout), and of course, the addition of Kahlua and caramel are yet another reason to love this bread.  Originally, I was going to use Bourbon, like Smitten Kitchen did, but to my dismay, we had no bourbon in the cupboard, and when I'm on a mission to make something, the last thing I want to do is to get in my car and go to the store for one more ingredient.  We always have Kahlua since I love White Russians, and thought the flavor of the Kahlua, with some swirls of caramel throughout and brown sugar on top would complement the banana bread really well.

This makes a big loaf of bread, so be patient during the baking time - mine took a full hour and ten minutes to bake through so that a skewer came out cleanly.  During the last 20 minutes of baking, you can cover the top of the bread loosely with foil if you're worried about it over-browning.  This bread smelled so delicious and it was hard to wait until it cooled to slice into it.

Last Friday night, I made a pot roast in our crock pot, but instead of the typical potatoes and carrots to go along with the roast, I made a potato dish I came up with that I'm calling "Loaded Baked Potato Pie" which was my version of scalloped potatoes baked in a pie dish, but with all the toppings you'd load onto a baked potato such as sour cream, cheese, green onions and turkey bacon.  I need to tweak this recipe a little before I share it, though, since the potatoes didn't fully cook through.

That left the carrots, which I asked Jamie to do something with, and guess what he made?  A carrot souffle!  Have you ever had a carrot souffle?  Neither had I, and I think I fell in love!  With the souffle, and with him, too, of course.  :)

The souffle had a wonderful, sweet flavor similar to pumpkin or sweet potato pie, and the texture was moist but firm, sort of a cross between cornbread and polenta.  He baked the souffle in a square baking dish, which worked perfectly for cutting it into squares.  The next time we make this recipe, I might try baking it in individual ramekins.

With the scents of banana bread and carrot souffle in our house, it really is fall around here.

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup (2/3 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, plus 2 extra tablespoons
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons, all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks
  • 2 tablespoons caramel topping
Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Spray a standard-size loaf pan (or two mini loaf pans) with non-stick baking spray.
In a large bowl, smash the bananas.  Add the butter, 1 cup brown sugar, egg, buttermilk and Kahlua and mix well with a wooden spoon.

In a separate bowl, combine the baking soda, salt and flour.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips and caramel (do not over-mix).  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Sprinkle the top of the batter with the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a skewer or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  If the top starts to over-brown, loosely cover with foil during the last 20 minutes of baking.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.

Carrot Souffle
(adapted from All Recipes)
  • 1 pound carrots (3-4 carrots), coarsely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Spray a square baking dish with non-stick baking spray.
Place the carrots in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 15-20 minutes.  Drain.

Using your food processor, puree the cooked carrots until smooth.  Add the butter, vanilla and eggs and pulse until smooth and creamy.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and combine well.  Pour mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.