Caramelized Banana Bread with Gingersnap Butter / by Chelsea Zwieg

Oh you GUYS! Christmas is 9 days away! My parents are coming to stay for a whole week in 3 days! I built a gingerbread house last weekend and then christmas shopped the whole next day! I got The Santa Clause on DVD as a secret santa present! I think I'm stuck in an endless cycle of exclamation points! *insert sound of me desperately gasping for air as I clutch a peppermint mocha and Trans-Siberian Orchestra plays in the background* Things are getting festive around here. 

I still have a few things to do in the next 9 days like finish shopping, wrap all my presents and learn all the words to this song. But seriously, is there anything better than Christmas time? In case you couldn't tell, I'm very excited. And when I get very excited, I bake. Which is why my entire day off today was spent baking. And while I could have been, say, cleaning the house in preparation for my parent's arrival, I decided to make banana bread to add to their breakfast options. Priorities, you know. 

I'm really a huge fan of banana anything but banana bread is way up there on the list. (Just under banana malts, just above banana pancakes, if you are looking for specifics). So when Bon Appetit went around parading their "best banana bread recipe", two thoughts crossed my mind. 1) Oh what I would give to be an editor at Bon Appetit and have my job be testing 14 loaves of banana bread to come up with the winner and 2) yes, yes, I need to make this. 

But, never one to be satisfied with following a recipe as is, I decided to caramelize the bananas in a little brown sugar/brown butter combination (the Bananas Foster treatment) before mashing them up and folding them into the batter. And oh, you will not be sorry. There is also greek yogurt in the batter, which is my favorite in banana bread because it gives an extra level of moisture. Finally, there's walnuts and dark chocolate chunks. I'm not joking, it really is the best banana bread.  

To finish it off, I made a gingersnap butter to go along with it that is SO easy and so delicious that there really is no excuse not to be spreading this on your bread. And bagels. And pancakes. And everything else. 

So, happy week before Christmas! I hope your week is full of shopping, wrapping, cheesy Netflix Christmas movie watching and lots and lots of baking. I'll be back again before Christmas with my all time favorite (!!!) Christmas cookie recipe. 

Side note: do I win some kind of award for using the word Christmas so many times in this post? Too many times? Never! 

Caramelized Banana Bread

Adapted from Bon Appetit 

Makes 1 9x5 loaf

| Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 5 tbsp. butter, softened 
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 large bananas, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped 

| Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9x5 loaf pan. Set aside. 
  • In a medium skillet, melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, stirring, until butter begins to brown and smells nutty. Add 1 tbsp. brown sugar and stir until sugar is melted. Add sliced bananas and stir so that the brown sugar/butter mixture coats the bananas. Cook bananas, stirring frequently, until they are soft, brown and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mash with a fork until smooth. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat greek yogurt, remaining butter (1/4 cup) and brown sugar until smooth and light, about 4 minutes.
  • Add eggs on at a time and beat until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine.
  • Add caramelized bananas and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts, if using.
  • Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake 55-60 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 1 hour, then remove a finish cooling on a wire rack. 

Gingersnap Butter

Makes 1/2 cup

| Ingredients | 

  • 3 oz. gingersnaps (this will be about 3/4 cup once they are ground)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. molasses

| Instructions

  • In a food processor, grind gingersnaps into a very fine powder. Measure out 3/4 cup. 
  • In a stand mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add ground gingersnaps and beat well to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. 
  • Add maple syrup and molasses. Beat to combine. Transfer butter to a sealable container and store in the refrigerator.