Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread

I really needed something sweet the other night and had a couple bananas lying around on the counter looking bored and starting to spot.  Perfect.  Spotted bananas are the always the beginning to something good, aren't they?  In this case it's banana bread, I made mini loves but you could so muffins or an 8 inch loaf.  Up to you.  These are not very sweet, if you like a sweeter quick bread add more agave or when serving, drizzle with more.  (Drizzling with more is better!)

Makes 1 loaf or 8 mini loaves or 12 muffins.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread

2 very ripe bananas, peeled

1/4 cup natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup agave

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease baking pan and set aside.  

In a bowl, mash banana with peanut butter.  Stir in olive oil, agave, egg and vanilla.  Mix well.  In another bowl, whisk baking soda, salt, flour and cocoa powder until evenly combined.  I sifted my cocoa powder in to avoid lumps.  Fold all flour mixture into banana batter.  Stop folding once all combined.  (lumps are ok but no streaks of flour.  If batter is over mixed once flour is added, the bread will be tough.)

Spoon into prepared pan and bake, 15 to 17 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.  Cool on rack.  

Chocolate Covered S'mores

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S'mores!  These are a nice idea for an edible gift.  Who doesn't love receiving home made candy?  

Tempering chocolate is easy and necessary for achieving professional quality chocolate treats at home.  Tempering chocolate is when chocolate is melted to one temperature and then brought down to a specific temperature range.  Tempering chocolate will leave you with chocolate covered candies that are glossy and maintain firmness at room temperature.  Untempered chocolate must be stored in the fridge or it will melt and will be messy when handled.  To temper chocolate you will need a metal bowl you can set over a pot of hot water and a thermometer. 

Makes 24 squares.

Chocolate Covered S'mores

12 graham crackers, halved into squares

24 marshmallows, halved lengthwise

1 lb dark chocolate discs or small pieces

.75 oz tempered dark chocolate, like Hersheys, Mast or Dove

Stretch 2 marshmallow halves over each graham cracker.  Use a chefs torch to toast marshmallows to a toasty brown.  Repeat with all graham crackers.  Set aside on a piece of parchment paper or silpat.  

Any chocolate you purchase will already be tempered when it leaves the factory.  However, once it is melted for coating other items, like graham crackers, it will have lost its tempered properties.  To regain the correct tempered property:  

In a double boiler with barely simmering hot water, stir the 1 lb of chocolate with a wooden spoon.  Heat the chocolate to 120-125 F.  It helps to begin with small uniform pieces of chocolate. 

Remove the bowl from the heat and cool the melted chocolate to 86F.  Adding the .75 oz of tempered chocolate will help lower the temperature.  (This is also called seeding.)

Raise the temperature of the chocolate by setting the bowl back over the hot water for brief intervals of 10 to 15 seconds.  Keep an eye on the temperature.  Heat to a maximum of 90F. (Milk and white chocolate would be to a maximum of 88F.)

The chocolate is now tempered and can be used for dipping and coating but must remain at 86 to 90F.  Continue passing it over the hot water to maintain this range of temperature.  

Dip toasted marshmallow graham one by one into chocolate until all are done.  Let set on parchment paper.  Store in air tight container. 

**Chocolate tempering instructions and notes are from the Components Design NW Inc which I found to be the clearest instructions and wanted to share.  

Chocolate Cherry Pancakes

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I love brunch.  Any meal that allows for food that is clearly dessert to pass as a legitimate meal is ok with me!  This is one of those foods.  

If you find yourself out of buttermilk: add one tablespoon of white vinegar to one cup of milk and let it sit for ten minutes. 

Makes 7 large pancakes.  Enough for 2-4 people, depending on pancake appetite.   

Chocolate Cherry Pancakes 

1 cup cake flour (all purpose is fine, too) 

3 tablespoon cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 cup cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Add egg, buttermilk and coconut oil and mix until just combined.  Fold in cherries.  

Heat a skillet to medium heat and once hot.  Pour small ladlefuls of batter onto the skillet to form pancakes.  Cook about one minute on each side.  The edges will bubble when its ready to be flipped.  Cook in batches if needed.  

Serve hot with maple syrup, agave syrup, chocolate syrup or whipped cream for an indulgent breakfast or brunch.  

 

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread aka Nutella

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I don't know about you but I can't be trusted around Nutella.  I took a trip to Paris a few years ago and I think the 6 or so pounds I gained on that trip is due to the fact that I was helpless to resist the street side windows of creperies and their Nutella and banana crepes.

 Nutella + Banana is possibly my favorite food combination.  

This recipe makes about 4 cups, so plan accordingly.   (Most of this batch is going to friends and co workers.)

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

10 oz hazelnuts, blanched + skinless

1/4 cup sugar

1 lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 stick butter

1 cup cream

pinches of salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast about 30 minutes until medium brown.  Turn pan once during roasting for evenness.  Remove from oven and let cool.  

Combine sugar and roasted hazelnuts in the smaller bowl of a food processor and process with the multi purpose blade for 12 minutes of so.  Mixture will have to consistency of melted, oily, creamy peanut butter.  

Meanwhile, set a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water and melt chocolate.  Add butter, stirring to melt and combine with chocolate.  Stir in cream.  Stir in hazelnut/sugar mixture and salt.  While warm, pour into clean jars.  

Will keep at room temperature of 4 days or in the fridge for a month.  

Chocolate Truffles

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Truffles!  I don't really know what to say about these but they are easy to make and a nice looking gift.  Keep these little things in the fridge.  Roll them either in cocoa powder, crushed nuts, chopped dried cranberries, sprinkles, coconut or anything else.  

Chocolate Truffles

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons grand marnier

6 oz german sweet chocolate  

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature

cocoa powder (or whatever you've chosen to roll the truffles in)

In a pan, boil cream until it is reduced to about 2 tablespoons.  Add grand marnier and chocolate.  Lower the heat and melt chocolate.  Add butter, stir until melted and mixture is smooth.  Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.  

Scoop out with a spoon, shape and roll in toppings.