Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chocolate Banana Bread

The wonderful thing about chocolate banana bread is that it seems so much more decadent than regular banana bread, but because it uses cocoa powder, not chocolate bars, it is actually better for you! Or at least I suspect it is, given the amazing properties people attach to chocolate's flavenoids and antioxidants (which help neutralize free radicals!).

I digress.

After a camping weekend where the Man and I made breakfast and many people didn't eat the fruit we served, I came back home with too many bananas, and they were turning brown. My answer to too many bananas is always: Banana bread!

No making-of photos today, but here's the recipe, adapted from here.

1 3/4 cup wheat flour (you can use white, but what makes me feel virtuous)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt

2 beaten eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons melted butter
3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F

In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, oil, butter, bananas, and vanilla. Scrape the mixture into the dry ingredients, and gently stir together. (you could add chocolate chips at this point, but why spoil the illusion that this is healthy food? Actually, it is decently healthy.)

Pour batter into a greased breadpan. Bake for 50-65 minutes, it will be done when you stick a fork or toothpick in the bread, and it comes out clean.

Apologies for the blurry picture.

So how was it? Definitely better the next day, but I really enjoyed this. Having more banana then the typical banana bread recipe (normally they say 2) keeps this really moist. I didn't mind the taste of the wheat flour, though the Man said he could tell there was some in the bread, but in my opinion, that is not a bad thing. The chocolate is noticeable, but not in-your-face.

A great way to use up bananas!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes!

I had the idea for a cake recipe that combined Guinness (or some other stout) with chocolate about six months ago, but only recently got around to tinkering with a recipe. I have heard of beer bread, and even beer ice cream, so why not a cake? It turns out I am not the first person to come up with the idea, but I gave it my own rendition.

I have to say I am very happy with the results. Aside from the fact that I usually have bad luck with baked goods because dangit, I only measure precisely when I'm in the lab, (where I have the assistance of micropipettes), but also because the stout adds a complexity to the chocolate that I'm pretty sure even non-drinkers would like. It also makes a good leavening agent!

No making of pictures today, but here is the recipe!

**Adapted from this recipe

1 cup of stout
2 sticks of butter
3/4 cup of cocoa powder

2 cups flour
1 3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs
Rounded 1/2 cup of cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the cocoa powder, and add stout. Let the mixture cool.

Blend flour, sugar, baking soda, salt together and blend.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and cream cheese together. (an electric mixer would have made this step much easier!) When blended, add the stout/ chocolate mixture to the eggs about a quarter cup at a time, and blend, continuing this step until the eggs are tempered.
Add the flour mixture and stir until well-mixed.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake about 13-18 minutes. ( I suspect my old oven runs hotter than most, as most cupcake recipes recommend 350 for 22-25 minutes. Experiment with timing).

Yields approx. 18 cupcakes.

I mixed up a quick buttercream icing, which was good, but not amazing, use your favorite icing recipe.

I want to remake this recipe as a layer cake with ganache filling and a better-tasting buttercream frosting. It would be fantastic!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lavender Lemonade

It's pretty warm out here lately, and humid, and thus cold beverages have been pretty much a necessity when the apartment is 85 degrees for several hours. I've been drinking lots of iced tea, but I've gotten bored with that, so I decided to make a twist on the classic lemonade today:

Add lavender to it!

So here is what you need to do:

Dissolve 2.5 cups of water and 1.5 cups of sugar together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and add 2 tablespoons of lavender buds. Continue boiling for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, juice 4 big lemons into a pitcher, and add 2.5 cups of water.

Strain the boiling mixture into the pitcher and stir.

Chill the pitcher, and then enjoy! It is delightfully tangy with a hint of floral, and is a good thirst-quencher.