Cocoa Butter Banana Bread

Banana Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup cocoa butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup flax, ground
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate, broken into small chunks
  • 1 cup pecans, crushed

Directions

Mash the bananas with a fork until mostly smooth. Mix the melted cocoa butter, bananas, eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder, then stir in the flax and salt. Stir together the dry and wet ingredients until the dry ingredients have just been moistened. Stir in the chocolate and pecans, then pour into a prepared 5″x9″ loaf pan. Bake for 75 minutes at 325ºF until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

And now for the details…

Before getting into the full story, I should probably mention that this banana loaf was much more in the crumby cake side of texture as opposed to the more typical ultra moist banana bread. This is a texture I prefer, but if you like the super smooshy type of banana bread, this is not the loaf for you.

As far as where my inspiration came from, it was from, as usual, meandering around my grocery store. I randomly found some raw cocoa butter on sale. I stood in front of the shelf for quite awhile with the bag in my hand. What was I going to use it for? No idea. It’s supposed to be really good for you. But what are these purported health benefits of this fat compared to most others? And how would I use it? I think I melt it down as a fat replacement in meals? Surely I can figure something out. Hadn’t I heard of people putting it into smoothies at the very least? If I used it for cooking, would it make everything taste like chocolate? But most importantly it’s on sale… how could I say no?

Well, I took it home… and it sat sad and lonely in my pantry closet for months. So yeah, it was on sale, and I bought it, and then I almost forgot about the gorram thing.

So months went by and one day I had some uber ripe bananas that clearly needed a home in a baked good. Which I suppose is not saying a lot for me… once a banana has one brown spot on it, it’s too ripe for fresh eating, and is officially a baking banana. I do thoroughly enjoy me some banana baked goods, however, and a good banana bread is a pretty delicious snacking option. And then, I remembered *ba-ba-da-baaaaaa* cocoa butter! Now could be its big break!

Looking into the cocoa butter since I bought it, the health benefits that I’d thought I’d heard or read about seemed… weak. Does it provide a good fat source for folks functioning off a keto diet? It sure does… like pretty much any fat source out there. Is it quite high in phytosterols, which have claim to lowering LDL cholesterol? Yes it is… like many vegetable oils. But… I don’t follow a keto diet, and while I try to maintain an overall healthy and balanced diet, phytosterol intake is not something I am monitoring. Sure hope this stuff is delicious, cause that’s the main thing I am now focused on. Worse case, I suppose, I could slather it on my body instead and have an expensive, but delicious smelling moisturizer!

Let’s get to cooking.

My mistake when making this was to start with mashing the bananas. What I really should have started with was getting the melting process of the cocoa butter going. Cocoa butter is clearly a winner from a shelf stability perspective. It’s melting point is higher than coconut oil or butter, and it takes quite bit longer to melt down to a useable liquid than most other fat options I have used. One of my favourite parts, though: when a little bit of the melted butter smashed onto my hands while stirring, and I rubbed it into my skin instead of wiping it off. Seriously, great moisturizer if nothing else.

Before we get to the next step, preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Once you have the butter melted and the bananas mashed, mix the two together, than add in the eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. I used vanilla sugar in the recipe, which I have in my pantry by throwing a used vanilla pod into some sugar in a hermetic glass jar in the pantry. Regular sugar would do just just fine, just increase your vanilla addition to about 1.5 teaspoons.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, flax, and salt. You can buy flax pre-ground, but I buy the flax whole and grind it just before you use it. I have a separate coffee grinder that I keep specifically for grinding seeds and spices, which I used to grind the flax.

Next, mix the dry and wet ingredients until they are just combined. Next is to add the chocolate and pecans, and stir into the batter until fairly evenly mixed in.

Grease the loaf pan, and line it with parchment paper. Turn the batter out into the prepared pan, and place into the preheated oven. Bake for around 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the loaf comes out clean.

Remove the pan from the oven, let it cool, then cut and enjoy!

Happy eating.

My Favourite Carrot Cake, with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

    Cake
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cut shredded or flaked coconut, unsweetened
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 can, 398ml (13 oz) crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 1 cup sultana raisins
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole fat buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Icing
  • 340g (12 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 290g (oz) bar white chocolate, broken
  • 4-6 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Whisk or sift together the top six ingredients (dry ingredients) in a large bowl. Mix together the next five ingredients (carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple, raisins) in a medium bowl. Mix together the final five ingredients (wet ingredients) in a small to medium bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix lightly until the dry ingredients have just moistened. Fold the carrot mixture into the batter and until consistently mixed. Pour the batter into greased and papered cake tin(s). Bake at 350ºF/177ºC until toothpick comes out clean (~25min for 6″ cake tins. Cool fully. Whip cream cheese and butter together add 1/2 cup icing sugar, whip. Melt white chocolate, pour slowly into icing while whipping. Add vanilla. Add remaining icing sugar cup by cup until desired consistency.

And now for the details…

Okaaaaay, so it seems super biased and a bit self-absorbed to call this my favourite carrot cake when… I’m… writing about it. Okay, so I swear I’m not that much of a narcissist. I did not create the recipe for this carrot cake. In fact, I found it online over a decade ago when I was looking for a carrot cake recipe that had ALL THE STUFF. Not just some light cake with a tad bit of cinnamon and carrots, but a toothy, rich, almost-worthy-of-a-meal concoction. And there it was. “Sam’s Famous Carrot Cake“. *heavenly sounds, rays of light, rainbows, and unicorns* And it is, in fact, still there to this day, as you can see by the hyperlink. Before even attempting to make it for the first time, I was already in love. Carrots. And pineapple. And coconut. And walnuts. And raisins. Seriously, I am drooling just listing this off. How can one even begin to enjoy a carrot cake that is simply carrots and cake??? Not when you can have this divine panoply that is… *royal trumpets sound* Sam’s Famous Carrot Cake.

Is there any way to boost this recipe even more? How about amping up the spices, and adding white chocolate cream cheese frosting to the mix? That sounds about right to me. So let’s do it.

We are going to start by mixing all our dry ingredients together. I use a wire strainer to do my sifting, and sift together the flour and baking soda into a large bowl, then whisk in the salt and spices until evenly mixed.

Next, shred your carrots and add them to a separate bowl. To that bowl, add in the coconut, walnuts, pineapple (do not drain!), and raisins. Stir these ingredients together until it is evenly blended.

Next, mix together all the wet ingredients (eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar and vanilla) in a third, smaller bowl. Now is also a good time to preheat the oven to 350ºF so it is ready to go when the cake tins are filled.

Mix the dry and wet ingredients together until the dry ingredients are just moistened. This will ensure we do not “overwork” the batter.

Next, stir in the carrot mixture, just until all the ingredients are fairly evenly blended.

Before we pour the batter into the cake tins, we need to prepare the tins for baking. Some people will just butter the tins. Others will butter, then flour the base. For me, my mom passed on how she baked cakes, which is to bake them with the tins buttered and a piece of waxed or parchment paper cut to just the right size to fit the bottom of the pan. I have tried the other methods, but this one has been the only tried and true to avoid chunks of cake falling out when I am removing the baked cake from its tin. The tins I used for this cake were three 6″ tins, but two 9″ tins would work fine, or if you are interested in a pan, a 9″x13″ pan should work as well. Baking time, of course, will need to be adjusted for the different kinds of tins.

Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Run a knife around the edges of the tines, then turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack and remove the waxed or parchment paper. Let them cool completely before frosting.

Next, we make the frosting. The cream cheese and butter need to be room temperature and soft in order to blend well. When they are soft, whip the two together until smooth. I add a bit of the icing sugar (about 1/2 cup) to them, as it seems to help cut through the cream cheese and the two blend more easily together.

Before adding the rest of the icing sugar, we will add the white chocolate. The white chocolate I used for this recipe is from Choklat, a chocolatier… sorry: chocolate maker (there is a difference! Did you know that most of the chocolatiers you know do not actually make their own chocolate?) in my city, whose chocolate I have become a bit obsessed with since they opened around the same time I first moved here. The smell of the store as you walk in to make your purchase is understated if its called mouth-watering. And the chocolate… oh, the chocolate. When they moved their store to a new location, it was a bit out of the way for me. But luckily, I recently discovered that my local grocery store is stocking a few choice offerings, score! For this recipe, I am using their white chocolate, which is actually a bit of a beige colour. They actually explain this on their label: white chocolate should not be purely white. Good quality cocoa butter is not white. Good quality vanilla is not white. Therefore, the resulting mix the creates white chocolate should be a luscious, melting, delicious off-white.

So maybe the entire bar did not make it into the recipe… I had to taste for quality, right?

We will use a bain-marie, to melt the chocolate more consistently and avoid scorching or burning it while melting. I used a metal bowl on a small pot of simmering water (the bowl should sit over the water, not touching it), stirring constantly as the chocolate melted all the way through. I added this to my cream cheese and butter, and mixed it in completely.

Finally, whip in the vanilla, then the remaining icing sugar, adding a bit of sugar (about 1 cup) at a time until you get your desired consistency (slowing the mixer speed in between each additions, of course; I prefer to not have my entire kitchen dusted in powdered sugar.)

Finally, it is time to frost the cake. Because I put the cake into 6″ tins, they cakes ended up quite thick. So I cut each of them in half, ending up with two cakes: one a two-layer and the other a four-layer. A local bakery has provided the amazing idea of garnishing the frosted carrot cakes with pumpkin seeds, dried apricots, and raisins, resulting in an added crunch and bite to the cake that is beyond… just… beyond.

Finally, cut and enjoy.

Happy eating.