Cocoa- Nana Bread

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Do you ever have the bananas that are a little too ripe, and you want something new to do with them?  While you may have several tricks up your sleeve for old bananas, here's one that's a twist on an old classic- cocoa-nana bread.  The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan and her amazing book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.  I found myself in that spot- just not sure what to do with the bananas, despite having several past ideas, from frozen banana slices to banana pudding to banana bread.  This particular recipe also utilized ingredients that I already had on hand.

As far as a review for this bread- it comes together easily, but actually starts out sort of like a cake rather than a quick bread because you cream the butter and sugars together as the first step.  I may have done something wrong, but this bread came out tasting just a little dry.  The combination of banana and chocolate is a nice one, and I was glad to use up old ingredients.  Others who tried this bread liked it OK but no raves.  I suppose it's up to you as to whether or not you want to try this bread.  I can't honestly give it a glowing review, but I'm not saying it's not worth a try in your kitchen.

Cocoa Nana Bread
from Dorie Greenspan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1/2 cup store-bought chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and place it on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of the other. (This extra insulation will keep the bottom of the bread from over baking.)

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute, until softened. Add the sugars and beat for 2 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. At this point, the batter may look a little curdled -- it's okay. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the mashed bananas. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Still on low speed, add the buttermilk, mixing until it is incorporated. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. Cover the bread loosely with a foil tent to keep the top from getting too dark, and continue to bake for another 40 to 45 minutes (total baking time is between 70 to 75 minutes) or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the bread and unmolding. Invert and cool to room temp right side up.

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