Turning the Busted into the Beautimus is Totally Bananas
I’m no freegan (or as my Dad would say, dumpster diver), but banana bread is my favorite celebration of letting as little as possible go to waste. When you’ve forgotten to hit Chiquita up fast enough and your bananas have gone from yellow to brown (or black, even!), that’s when you need to pull out this recipe. Banana bread is not only exceptional with old bananas, it truly can ONLY be made with old bananas. So next time you’re thinking about tossing those seemingly junky bunches, save them for this delicious treat.
Banana bread is certainly a morning treat, and has a reputation for being a nutritious breakfast. This is not that banana bread. Gooey dark chocolate and crunchy pecans are mixed into the rich, buttery batter. I make this bread when I’m looking for something slightly sweet for dessert – it’s still light like banana bread, but the chocolate just takes it to another level. Don’t skimp on the chocolate, by the way – the finer the cocoa content, the better. I like the Lindt bars with 60% cocoa, broken into pieces. If you’ve only got chips in the house, though, you can certainly use them. Just try to buy good ones, like Ghiradelli.
Banana bread, as you may have guessed it since I’m the one making it, takes no skill whatsoever to bake. Although it takes about an hour to bake, it’s one of those excellent dump and stir operations that you can do without much thought. That’s the kind of baking for me 😉
Dark Chocolate Pecan Banana Bread
3-4 very ripe bananas
1 tsp. of vanilla
1/2 c. of butter, softened
1 c. of sugar
1 1/3 c. of flour
1 tsp. of baking soda
1/2 tsp. of salt
1 c. of pecans, chopped
1/2 c. of dark chocolate chunks
Preheat oven to 350°. Mash the bananas in a bowl. Mix in the eggs, vanilla and softened butter. Sift in the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Fold to incorporate dry ingredients into the wet. Mix in pecans and chocolate. Butter a 9x5x3 pan and turn out the batter into the pan. Place in the oven and cook for 55 minutes. Let cool and slice into squares.
A Blond Walks Into a Bar
As I’ve said before, I can’t be bothered to bake. So a long time ago, when my best friend Kate told me that her mom only made brownies from scratch, I dismissed the recipe as way out of my league. Years later, and a whole lot of convincing later, I was swayed into taking a peek at the recipe. I have to say, kids, I’m eating my words as fast as I’m eating these brownies, because the recipe is so damn simple.
I’ve never been a choc-o-holic – I’ll take an extra piece of bread in lieu of a sugary treat. I have always had a slight weakness for white chocolate, however – the combo of sweet and slightly salty has always been a palette pleaser. Because of the simplicity of Kate’s mom’s recipe, I thought why not try it with white chocolate. Throw out all your preconceived notions of “brownies” – this one is a total winner. The bars are dense and moist like a brownie, but also light and slightly crumbly like cake. Best of all, the crunch from the walnuts and the slight saltiness of the treats make it a total winner. My mom, after trying them for the first time, said that they reminded her of these coconut cakes they make in Brazil. It goes to show you that you can take the girl out of Brazil, but you can’t take Brazil out of…you know the rest. Continue reading White Chocolate Walnut Brownies
Why Settle For Tres When You Can Have Cuatro?
My darling hubby has a thing for tres leches – regardless of fullness, his appetite gets a second wind if he sees this on the menu. For those that have not had tres leches before, it’s a luscious combination of cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk poured over light cake. The result is a silky, moist hybrid of cake, pudding and majesty. Yup, majesty.
I decided to simplify the process with cake mix – god forbid I give you a cake recipe that involves skill because heaven knows I’m no baker – and one up the sweetness with a bit of salty coconut. Replace the water used in the box of cake mix with coconut water, and then swap out the traditional cream in the leche bath for cream of coconut, and voila, a showstopping dessert with little to no fuss.
Coconut Tres Leches
1 pkg of yellow cake mix (plus butter and eggs)
1 lg can of coconut water (without pulp)
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 can of evaporated milk (plain or fat-free)
1 can of coconut milk
1 pt. of whipping cream
1/2 c. of powdered sugar
1 tsp. of vanilla
shredded coconut (garnish)
Prepare cake batter according to the box directions, using coconut water in replace of the plain ol’ water. Make sure to strain the coconut pulp first if you can’t find coconut water without the pulp. Or leave it in for some texture in your cake – I like mine super smooth, so I remove it. Bake in a 13×9 pan according to the box directions.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, coconut milk and evaporated milk. Pour the leche mix over the cake, still in the baking pan. Watch as the cake absorbs the lovely milk mixture, just like magic.
While the cake does its thing, whip up some topping. Put a metal bowl (or the bowl of your KitchenAid mixer) into the fridge to chill. When it’s super cool (a la Miles Davis), take it out and add the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip like crazy with an egg beater (or the whisk attachment for your mixer) until the cream forms stiff peaks.
To serve, cut a slice of cake and gently remove from pan. Slather the creamy goodness over the cake and toss some shredded coconut on top of that for good measure. Stab anyone who tries to steal a bite with your fork.
Some Like it Red Hot
For those that know her, it goes without saying that my sister, Lexi, is an inspired baker. Not only does she wield myriad tricks of the trade with prowess and might (think “Gastronomical She-Ra, Princess of Baking”), her time as a vegetarian and vegan have given her a unique perspective on the science and nutrition of baking. She knows her stuff.
Alas, I didn’t get that gene – I absolutely adore cooking, but baking – not ma’ thang. I’m pretty sure that I’ve set a cake on fire before. And yet, this recipe is the one that has proven to be my solitary ace in the hole. I have a crush on this one. A big time crush. Continue reading Red Velvet Cake