Going bananas: New spin on banana bread becomes family favorite

I don’t know what you do when the world turns upside down, but apparently I make stuff -- tons of stuff, stuff I’ve never made before, as if all the frenetic, creative energy coming out of me will somehow restore everything to normal.

It didn’t work, if you hadn’t noticed -- the world is yet a bit off. But what did work was a new way to eat old, brown bananas.

Like many of you, over the first couple weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic I discovered a previously invisible superpower: the ability to use up every bit of edible food in the house. Something about seeing empty grocery store shelves does this, I guess.

The bananas took the longest, to be honest. They sat on the counter getting browner and browner. I imagine there’s a point at which bananas are no longer edible, but they didn’t stink yet, and I hoped that if I just threw them in the oven in some form, all their problems might go away. 

The obvious thing is to make banana bread. In fact, banana bread has become the unofficial snack of the pandemic -- banana bread recipe searches in Google surged in March and have held steady through April. 

The thing is, my family doesn’t like banana bread. I do, but there are still a thousand things I’d rather eat than banana bread, if we’re looking for unnecessary calorie options.  

But then my frenetic creative energy, the brown bananas on the counter and the illumination of the universe converged, and it occurred to me to try putting them into a recipe for chocolate quick bread -- think Costco chocolate muffins, but in loaf form. 

The recipe had previously called for a ½ cup of applesauce -- which, who has that laying around when everyone in your house has a full working set of adult teeth? I’ve learned that bananas, applesauce, pumpkin and shredded zucchini work somewhat interchangeably in recipes -- from a structural perspective -- so I threw in what I had to see what would happen. 

And it worked. Somehow, the addition of cocoa powder and chocolate chips magically covers up the fact that this is banana bread. I’ve been making this bread every couple weeks, and it usually is in existence for only about 2 hours. 

The recipe calls for 2-3 mashed bananas, though you can use what you’ve got. I’ve used up to four bananas with great results (and a bit more banana flavor), and as few as one banana, though I added a bit more sugar to add sweetness.  

Chocolate Quarantine Bread

Start to finish: 85 minutes (15 minutes active)

Servings: 10

2-3 bananas, mashed

? cup oil

2 eggs

? cup water

½ cup sugar

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

? cup baking cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, beat the mashed bananas, oil, eggs, water and sugar thoroughly. In a separate bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture, stirring until well mixed. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

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