As I typed the title for this post I was imagining the barrage of YouTube links that are going to be sent my way as a result; videos of monkeys, actually baking (please, don’t, I beg of you). Because I hear they’re smart like that. Regardless, you won’t find me at the monkey enclosure of the Woodland Park zoo having a conversation on the finer points of pastries, or anything else for that matter. For no particular reason monkeys occupy the same territory in my brain reserved for things like lox, clowns and *shudder* hairless cats. As an animal lover (see exhibits a and b, my furry editors/publicists/snoring companions) I’ve attempted to remedy this, but whenever I watch Gorillas in the Mist all I can think is I’d rather be watching Congo. I attribute some of my monkey-phobia to their reputation as banana lovers; bananas are pretty low on my list of foods I’d readily eat if faced with starvation. Give me an apple, peach, pomegranate, pear, orange…even a slimy passion fruit over a banana any day. Don’t even get me started on things that are banana “flavored”.
So this sudden affection for banana bread is rather strange. Cooking Light is to blame… the carb laced cover of their October edition inspired me to pick up a copy and within was a recipe for banana bread employing an interesting technique, sauteing the bananas in butter. I could practically smell all that buttery-caramel goodness as I was reading it. You can find their recipe here. Because Cooking Light recipes are often the “light” equivalent of full fat vs low fat fat sour cream (as in: good, but not great), I took their caramelization technique and then went ape, incorporating ricotta cheese, almond flour (I’m working towards a gluten free version), date sugar and a touch of spice to create a bread that’s exceptionally moist and full of flavor. And depending on your nutritional perspective, the modifications made this bread just as, if not more, healthy by increasing the amount of protein, fiber and utilizing sugar alternatives and healthier oils. Did I mention the rum?
Boozy Banana Bread
No nuts in this banana bread, if you’re a die-hard walnut fanatic then feel free to add 1/2 a cup. Pecans would also be a good option. This recipe makes 2 loaves.
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup date sugar
- 6 bananas, ripened but not black (gross), peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 4 tbs coconut oil
- 5 tbs spiced rum (I prefer Oronoco)
- 4 eggs (3 duck eggs)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375. Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium high, allow the butter to brown before adding in the bananas. Cook the bananas until then just begin to brown, 5 – 10 minutes. Stir in the sugars, cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from heat. Whisk together the eggs, oil, rum (don’t forget to taste!) and half & half. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add the banana mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium speed until (mostly) smooth. Beat in ricotta on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes and then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slowly add the cream/egg mixture and dry ingredients, alternating between each, a cup at a time and mix until just combined, scraping sides of bowl halfway through. Butter 2 loaf pans (or 1 loaf pan plus 10 mini loaf pans) and if you prefer line them with parchment. Pour the batter evenly into pans and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes reduce heat to 350 and bake an additional 30-40 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Place the pans to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then remove loafs from pans to cool an additional 15-20 minutes. Or just get out the butter and start eating.
If you wanted to glaze these, I would use a mixture of rum and powdered sugar, whisked to your desired consistency. Boozy banana bread…