Espresso Fudge Swirled Banana Bread / by Chelsea Zwieg

I am back, back, back from vacation and while I do kind of wish I was currently sitting on a boat, sipping coffee and reading, waiting until the sun was up just enough to put on my swimsuit and lay on the boat some more, I guess being here and telling you about this banana bread is pretty alright too. Especially since I made it before we left for vacation and I have been waiting and waiting to share it! 

I have a very special place in my heart for banana bread/muffins. Not actually because of any childhood memories of my great uncle's grandmother's banana bread recipe passed down for generations (although, I'm sure she did have one because really, who doesn't??), but just because they are darn good. Working in a bakery, I can pretty much eat any baked good I could ever want at any hour of the day and yet I pretty much stick to banana muffins on the daily. 

But in any banana bread or muffin situation, chocolate chips are a must. Otherwise, what is the point? (of the bread, of life, just everything). But sometimes I can't just leave it at little chunks of chocolate. I prefer a huge fudgey river of chocolate flowing through my banana bread. A lot of swirly, chocolate banana breads are made with a chocolate batter that bakes to the same consistency of the bread. It's normally half of the original batter mixed with cocoa powder. This makes an A+ marble look, but the chocolate taste is nothing to write home about. Instead, the swirl needs to have a different proportion of ingredients (way more chocolate, just a hint of flour) so that there is no doubt in anyone's mind that there is a full bar of chocolate running around in there. Plus some coffee mixed in, because every breakfast needs coffee. And if you aren't eating this for breakfast soon, then what are you doing?? 

Espresso Fudge Swirled Banana Bread

Note: Be extra careful not to over bake this bread. The more it is baked, the less fudgey the chocolate will be. Also, this bread is living it's best life the day you bake it. The longer it sits, the more the chocolate will firm up. Definitely still worth eating, just not quite as wonderful. 

Makes 1 9x5 loaf

| Ingredients

For the Bread: 

  • 4 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 large verrrryyy ripe bananas 
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts or any other nut, chopped (optional) 

For the swirl: 

  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tsp. instant coffee or 1 tsp. instant espresso
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

| Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9x5 loaf pan. 

First, make the swirl. Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals until smooth, stirring between each interval. Whisk in the instant espresso. Add the flour, 1 tbsp. at a time, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the egg. Add the powdered sugar (if it is clumpy, sift it in) and whisk until smooth. Set chocolate mixture aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until combined. Add the yogurt and beat until the mixture is smooth and light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and add the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until the batter just comes together. 

Mash the bananas in a small bowl until only small bits remain. Add the bananas to the batter and beat until combined. If you are adding nuts, stir them in. 

Pour half of the batter into the loaf pan. Dollop half of the fudge mixture across the batter and swirl gently with a knife. Add the remaining batter and top with dollops of the rest of the fudge. Swirl one more time. If you swirl too much, the ribbons of fudge will be very thin. I like to have thick, chocolatey sections so I don't swirl, so much as stab at the batter with a knife to let clump of fudge sink down. 

Bake 55-60 minutes until a tester inserted in the banana section of the bread comes out clean. If you hit chocolate, it will not come out clean and that's ok.