It seems we always have a freezer full of brown-black bananas at our house. Which makes my heart sing because banana bread happens to be my absolute favorite, go-to, comfort food. I used to make banana bread weekly, back in my tree house days (the nickname two of my girlfriends gave to my adorable apartment. I think, largely due to the elaborate back deck within a private green space. My corner of solitude in this crazy bustling city.) Now that I’m married, and running my catering business, my favorite quick bread recipe has become more of a special treat than a weekly occurrence. Fortunately, my husband is as huge as I, so when it does show up on our kitchen counter, he is giddy with delight.
If you live in Chicago, or have been paying even an ounce of attention to the news, you know we’ve had one nasty winter thus far. Cold doesn’t even come close to describing it. Needless to say, we’ve been hibernating and craving comfort food chez moi. So my go-to banana bread has been popping up more regularly again.
This recipe has been with me since 2002 – the same year I moved to Chicago. I always liked banana bread, but I had been searching for THE banana bread recipe. Once I made this Tyler Florence recipe, I knew I had found the one…and while I have adapted the recipe over the years to make it my own (adding this spice or that; subbing whole wheat flour for some of the AP; trying different mix-ins and toppings), I have never strayed from Tyler Florence’s base banana bread recipe. It’s solid. Try it yourself and you’ll be converted too. I guarantee!
During the most recent polar vortex that forced us to take cover inside, I decided to whip up a batch of banana bread. My husband requested chocolate chips (his favorite mix-in), and I agreed, but I had another idea to take it to an even more decadent level.
In December, we were the recipients of a ginormous jar of Nutella. (My husband’s aunt is a Costco enthusiast. Of course, when you buy Nutella at Costco, it comes in a 2-pack…because one ginormous jar just won’t do! Lucky for us…we got jar number 2!) The Nutella had been stowed away on the highest shelf in our cabinet – intentional? You better believe it! And now it was calling my name…shouting, even.
“Sure, I’ll add the milk chocolate chips, but how do you feel about Nutella as well. Nutella Banana Bread?”
His smile said it all. So, I mixed my banana bread up as usual, adding in a half cup of milk chocolate chips for the husband, then spooned half the batter into my prepared pan. Armed with a knife and the jar of Nutella, I added generous knife-fuls of the gooey spread onto the batter (probably easily 1/4-1/3 cup), topped it with the remaining batter, then dipped my knife into the batter and swirled away. Ta-da! Nutella Banana Bread!
But that just wouldn’t do. At the last second, I sprinkled a tablespoon or so of sliced almonds on top, along with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar, then into the oven it went.
My husband and I busied ourselves with cleaning the house – he in the kitchen; me in the bathroom – while the bread filled the house with the most incredible enticing aroma. 65 minutes later, we had two spic-and-span rooms, and one sweet reward for our efforts! But we had to let it cool…oh waiting! It’s always the hardest part, regardless of your age.
Slicing into the bread, the gorgeous swirls of Nutella made us ooh and ahh. The flavor was even better. Nutella Banana Bread…this is an adaptation that will definitely be repeated!