I picked up some bananas for a staff snack during a photo shoot the other week. And as I grabbed a bunch at the store, I thought, “Well, if these aren’t eaten, I know where they’ll go.” In fact, I counted on them being ignored so they could ripen over the next few days and I could snag them for a loaf of this Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread from the Cooking Light archives. It’s both pretty to look at and pretty darned good to eat.
It’s a recipe I remembered fondly from my days at the magazine, though my approach to it, like so many other things, has evolved over time. The original version calls for egg substitute; I now just use real eggs. I’ve taken to using ghee in place of regular butter for added richness, the chocolate I use these days is always dark, and I sub a cup of whole-wheat pastry flour for half the all-purpose flour to add a bit of fiber. Oh, yeah, and I can’t resist tossing in a handful of chopped walnuts. (As part of the evolution of the recipe, I’m calling my version “Chocolate-Marbled Banana Bread.”)
So a lot has changed. And a lot hasn’t. The spirit of this banana bread is the same, despite my tweaks. And that’s just the way a solid recipe should work. At the very least, it’s a reliable guideline so most readers can achieve a consistent outcome. Great recipes — I’m thinking of those written by the likes of Julia Child or Nigel Slater — are also works of literary expression that advance a lively, ongoing conversation.
But even great recipes aren’t carved in stone. Any recipe, even those for baked goods, which do call for a certain precision, leaves room for inspiration and adaptation to the user’s preferences. And that’s where cooking really gets fun!
Chocolate-Marbled Banana Bread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
¼ cup ghee OR butter, melted
1½ cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
½ cup chopped toasted walnuts
½ cup dark chocolate chips, melted
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda and salt, stirring with a whisk.
In a medium bowl, whisk sugar and ghee until well blended (about 1 minute). Stir in banana, yogurt and eggs. Add flour mixture; stir just until moist. Stir in walnuts.
In a small bowl, combine 1 cup batter and chocolate. Spoon plain batter alternately with chocolate batter into an 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Swirl batters together using a knife (voila — it’s marbled!). Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.