Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cocoa-Nana Bread

A night or so ago, I noticed a few bananas in my fruit basket had changed to the over ripe and bake-with category, and made a mental note to bake something with them the next day. As it turned out, later that evening, a post came up in my RSS reader: this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was for a chocolatey banana bread - my over ripe banana problem solved.

This loaf is as dense as they come, thick with chocolate and banana flavors - and perfect with a cold glass of milk. My Cocoa-Nana Bread took an extra 15 minutes to bake through, so be sure to test the center of the loaf with a thin knife rather than judging doneness by the clock alone.

Cocoa-Nana Bread
Dorie Greenspan
Makes 1 loaf

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.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

It feels as though I'm always on the prowl for a new chocolate chip cookie recipe. This one is good - but we felt as though two teaspoons of coarse salt was a bit much. My husband thought the cookies were too big, I disagree.

The mix of chips and chunks make these cookies decadent.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Martha Stewart
Makes 24

3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated, fold in the chocolate chips and chunks.

Using a 1/4 cup scoop, drop dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet (you will have 24). Refrigerate 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange 6 unbaked cookies, 3 inches apart, on each of two parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are light golden brown, 16-18 minutes, rotating halfway. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Homemade White Sandwich Bread

My standard breadmaker bread recipe makes a usable loaf of bread, but it dries out quickly and my husband doesn't like how chewy the texture is. I tried this recipe and we're absolutely loving it.

It's just barely firmer than storebought sandwich bread, but is still quite soft and tender. It slices beautifully and tastes even better.

White Sandwich Bread

Recipezaar & Martha Stewart
Makes 2 loaves

2 envelopes active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons coarse salt
6-7 cups flour plus more for dusting

Pour warm water into breadmachine pan and sprinkle yeast over. Add 3 tablespoons honey, butter and salt. Add 6 cups flour and start machine on dough cycle. You may have to use the end of a wooden spoon to 'rearrange' the dough once it's starts kneading.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter 2 loaf pans.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. Knead gently till smooth and shape into a loaf. Place into buttered pans, cover with towel and let rise 15-20 minutes. Brush each loaf with a teaspoon of melted butter and bake till golden brown and hollow to the tap; 30-40 minutes. Let cool slightly in pans on wire racks, then unmold to cool completely.