This Espresso Chocolate Banana Bread proves that adding a bit of coffee into the mix is a delicious way to give classic banana bread a twist! Top with a nice crunchy streusel and you’re all set.
I have been filming cooking and baking videos like a maniac every Sunday the past few months, so much so that my body is always aching from all the one-woman work. It’s ironic because I currently have over 40 recipe videos waiting to be edited but I am ALWAYS too exhausted to do it.
Actually I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining. I cannot deny the high and the feeling of fulfillment every time I successfully execute and film a recipe. Recipes which, I should mention, I have taken a lot of painstaking effort and time in selecting and tweaking. So when they come out well and my first line of taste-testers (aka the family) gives me the thumbs up, I’m both relieved and pleased.
But I also can’t help but feel disdain for my infrequent publishing schedule, and for my general slowness in producing finished content. Though it can be frustrating at times, I realize it’s also only natural that my body and mind does not stop in reminding me of my limits. Sometimes I spend literally the entire Sunday on my feet filming recipes then cleaning up, and by the end I can feel the exhaustion in my bones.
Between my day-job and this passion project, I am always too tired in the evenings to write anything or to focus on editing videos. (Sometimes I fall asleep in front of the computer.) At the same time I can’t find it in me to really relax because at the back of my mind I know how behind I am with the blog. It’s crazy, right?
But you know, if there’s anything the borderline perfectionist in me has actually helped with, it’s that these days I try not to force myself to do too much when I’m in a state where I can’t put my best work forward. So this week, rather than push for a recipe video and drive myself insane trying to stay up all night editing, I am going to share a simpler post instead. And let me tell you, this recipe is a KEEPER.
This fantastic Espresso Chocolate Banana Bread, topped with Brown Sugar Pecan Streusel, is one of my favorite non-traditional banana bread recipes. I think you can see sense my enthusiasm in the amount of photos I ended up snapping.
My desire to make this type of banana bread came after eating Carmela’s Coffee Banana Cake with Cream Cheese. Surprisingly, I am not a very big fan of having a huge blob of cream cheese in my banana bread, but because I wanted to make it a little more special, I decided a streusel was the answer. Incidentally, I had leftovers from a batch of these Blueberry Muffins, so I went ahead and modified Bobby Flay’s original Espresso Chocolate Banana Bread recipe. The bread itself was already highly rated, but I think the streusel adds a little extra sparkle and texture!
The thing I love about this recipe is that it takes extra steps with certain things to make sure the result is a very flavorful banana bread.
Starting with the butter, you have to brown it first to get it to develop a nuttier and richer flavor profile than normal. To do this, you literally just need to heat up the butter until it sizzles and transforms into a deep golden brown color. Either mix the butter around with a spatula or swirl often (which I prefer) to make sure the heat is evenly distributed as you brown your butter.
There will probably be brown sediments at the bottom when you’re done. Those are toasted milk solids, which you want to use along with the butter because it’s where the most flavor is.
Now take the browned butter off the heat and whisk in your instant espresso powder until it’s as combined as it can get. Set aside this mixture to cool for a bit.
In a large bowl, mash your overripe bananas. I recommend using very very ripe large bananas for a more intense banana flavor because I feel that the chocolate and coffee can be too dominant if the bananas aren’t big enough and ripe enough to hold their own.
To the bananas, add in both brown and white sugars, the beaten egg, and the cooled espresso-brown butter. Beat together until well-combined.
Then mix together your dry ingredients in another bowl and add them right into this wet mixture. Just like with any other quick bread, you want to avoid overbeating the batter one you add the dry into the wet mixture. Overbeating will ALWAYS result in a tough quick bread, so just fold the flour mixture into the wet and stop while you still have some streaks or pockets of flour in the batter.
Now it’s time to add the chocolate chunks. Two things about this part: If you want the chocolate to be just a little add-on to your banana bread, chop them into smaller bits. If you like prominent pockets of chocolate in your banana bread then keep the chunks as big as mine. Fold in the chocolate with a spatula just until distributed. Again, do not overmix!
Finally, pour your batter into your prepared pan. Mix together streusel ingredients then proceed to sprinkle as much or as little as you want on top of the batter. I think you should be generous with the streusel but do remember to maintain an even layer.
Bake your Espresso Chocolate Banana Bread on the lowest oven rack about 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. I like taking the banana bread before the toothpick tester comes out completely clean, because I like to make an allowance for the fact that the cake will continue to cook due to residual heat as it cools down.
Let the banana bread cool on a baking rack inside the pan for 15 minutes before unmolding. Continue to let the banana bread cool for another 30 minutes. If you slice into it while it’s too hot, it’s very difficult to get a nice clean slice as the bread is still quite soft. Give it a little time to set and you won’t regret it.
And that’s literally all you need to do for this positively delish Espresso Chocolate Banana Bread!
This Espresso Chocolate Banana Bread firms up quite a bit when chilled. Let it return to room temperature before eating (or heat up and eat warm if you want) and it will go right back to its delicious, tender self! The texture is simply perfect at room temperature.
Espresso Chocolate Banana Bread with Brown Sugar Pecan Streusel
Makes one 9-inch loaf
For the streusel
- ¼ cup 50 grams packed light or dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup 33 grams chopped walnuts or pecans
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the bread
- 5 tablespoons 71 grams unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
- 1 tablespoon 7 grams instant espresso powder
- 1½ cups 180 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon 6 grams baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 very ripe medium to large bananas, mashed until smooth
- ½ cup 100 grams granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lightly-packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 50 grams semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
Make the streusel
- In a small bowl, mix all of the streusel ingredients together. Set aside while you prepare the batter.
Make the bread
- Adjust oven rack to the lowest layer and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9-inch loaf pan with the softened butter and line with parchment paper. Make sure to leave a bit of parchment overhang to make unmolding the bread easier later on.
- In a small saucepan, melt the 5 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Allow to cook until the butter turns a deep golden brown color, swirling the pan occasionally, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the espresso powder. (Mine didn’t dissolve completely into the butter.) Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, both sugars, beaten egg, and the cooled espresso-brown butter. Beat together until well-combined.
- Add the flour mixture and use a spatula to fold in until just combined. Do not overmix! Stop even when you still have some streaks of flour in the batter. Fold in the chopped chocolate just until distributed. Again, do not overmix!
- Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the streusel in an even layer on top.
- Bake banana bread on the lowest oven rack about 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the banana bread comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.
- Let the banana bread cool on a baking rack inside the pan for 15 minutes. Using the parchment overhang, lift the banana bread out of the pan and let cool on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
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