Buttermilk Lemon Chess Pie

Did you spring break?  Break for spring.  I am still waiting on spring…but that is another story…I won’t talk about the snow that greeted me this morning that had me silently weeping and cursing mother nature and wishing I lived in where snow was not in the vernacular after the calendar moved beyond winter.  (side note…that snow was one week ago.  We had another 7 inches on this past Saturday.)  I am done.  That is my rant. It snowed.  boo hoo.  It’s spring.  Kinda.

I am instituting a break for spring next year.  Too early to make 2015 resolutions?  It is about being prepared, people.

I am going to drive south or south west until I reach a consistent day time temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  I have no real destination in mind.  No real plan mapped in my head.  Only warm weather, fresh air, flip flops, refreshing cocktails, good company.  That is all that is needed.  No cruises with added expeditions.  No all inclusive clubs that require a 20 hour flight and drinking water restrictions.  None of that.  Simple and quiet and warm.  In 2015, in March…for one week…that is where you will find me.  Fingers crossed.

Until then…I have pie!  No substitute for spring break vacation…but, it’s a decent consolation prize for like 34th place.
Lemon buttermilk chess pie is all about bringing the south to you.   And with hope in my heart, bringing warm weather as well.  I am sort of caught up on this warm weather bit…I apologize.

And we are rollin…

Pie Crust : Flour, salt, sugar.  Butter.  Buttermilk.  Kaboom.

Cold butter into flour.  Stop when butter is pea sized.  Work fast.  If butter gets to warm and begins to soften, place in freezer for 15 minutes until chilled again.  Continue on…

Buttermilk in.  Stir until combined.  Turn out onto floured surface…knead a few times, gently, until a soft shaggy dough ball forms.  Don’t overwork.  You might need a bit more buttermilk.  It depends.

Pie crust needs to chill out in the fridge…just for a bit.  Not something you want to skip.  That butter needs to get cold again and the gluten needs to some R and R.

My crust never seems to keep it’s nice crimped edges…but, I have it at some point during the process.  That is good enough for me.

Say Hello! to my pie beans.  Blind baking…not as scary as it sounds.

Gather.  Eggs, citrus, sugar, flour, corn meal, butter, buttermilk.  Basic winter pantry stock items.

I like using zest … it is about using the whole fruit.

We are squeezing every last bit out of these lemons….

 And that orange.  Just the juice though.

Rubbing zest into sugar is stress relieving … smashing zest into granules of sugar and then the heavy aroma of citrus making its way to your nose… talk about sugar scrub meets aroma therapy meets sweet lemon flavored sugar.  Hello, Heaven!

Cornmeal assists flour today in the thickening department…it also brings a bit of texture to the table too.

 Eggs.  5.

But first, melted butter.  Cooled.  And then those lovely eggs are whisked in.  Whisk with all your  might until it’s all smooth and silky.   We are pie baking and bicep building…

Lemon and orange juice.

Piled dirty dishes … small bowls piled … makes my innards feel good.

Whisked bubbles.

It’s a pour and bake situation.

Share it.  Totally share it. We are in the business of making people happy.  Pie = fast route to happiness.

Buttermilk Lemon Chess Pie
 
Ingredients
Pie Crust
  • ½ Cup of Butter, cold (very)
  • 1+1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ⅓ Cup Buttermilk – very cold
Filling
  • 1 Tablespoon Grated Lemon Zest (1 lemon)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 + ½ Tablespoon Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 5 Large Eggs
  • 5 Tablespoon Butter, melted and cooled
  • ⅔ Cup Buttermilk
  • 7 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (about 3-4 lemons)
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • ½ Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
Prepare Pie Crust
  1. Cut butter into small chunks or shred using a cheese grater. Place butter in freezer for about 10 minutes. While butter is chilling, combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss butter in flour mixture and begin to break down the butter using a pastry blender or your fingers (this will be faster if you grate the butter). Work until butter is pea-sized. Return mixture to freezer for an additional 10 minutes – keeping the butter cold is key.
  2. Remove from freezer and form a well into the center of the mixture and pour in ice cold buttermilk all at once. With your hand or a fork, stir the flour into buttermilk well. A dough ball will begin to form, but the dough will be rather shaggy – if it remains rather dry, add an additional tablespoon of buttermilk. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap and place in fridge for an hour to chill out. This will give time for the butter to get cold again and the flour to get moist.
  3. After one hour, remove dough from fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll dough out into a 12 inch wide circle. Transfer pie dough to a 9 inch pie dish and without stretching dough, tuck the pie dough into the dish. There will be excess dough hanging over edges. If needed, trim off anything beyond ½ inch or so. Crimp edges with thumb and pointer fingers. Place pie in freezer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F
  5. Remove from freezer and with a large piece of tinfoil (about 2 pie lengths) – line pie crust with tinfoil, tucking it along the bottom and edges. Leave a few inches of foil hanging over the edges for easy removal later. Fill tinfoil lined pie crust wtih dried beans.
  6. Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and carefully remove tinfoil and dried beans. Set aside and reuse for future pies. Reduce oven temperature to 375F. Prick the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork 8 to 10 times. Return to oven and continue to bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes until slightly golden brown. If the crust begins to puff up along the edges or bottom, poke tiny holes into those areas with a sharp paring knife. Remove from oven and let cool competely on a wire rack. Prepare filling.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine lemon zest and both sugars. Rub zest into sugar using your fingers. Add cornmeal, flour, and salt. Stir to combine.
  3. Stir in melted butter. Add eggs, mixing well between each addition. When all the eggs are added, stir filling briskly until thickened and light in color.
  4. Stir in buttermilk, lemon juice, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
  5. Strain mixture into partially pre baked pie crust and place in preheated oven. Bake until edges are puffed up and set and the center jiggles just a tad when it is nudged. The top will be golden brown. About 40 to 50 minutes. Don’t over bake.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool completely on wire rack for 3-4 hours before slicing and serving. Stores in refrigerator up to 2 to 3 days.

Blood Orange Bars with Browned Butter Crust

The West Side Market…which for the first few years of residing in Cleveland, I referred to it as the West End Market, but with Cleveland not having a West and East end, but West and East sides…it confused most folks,  in that midwestern way, where those with whom you are chatting know exactly what/where you are talking about/of but fein ignorance when you (the newbie) slightly get the name wrong of a prized lankmark.  When I spoke of the West End Market, you would have thought I was talking about a place in Egypt.  It drove the boyfriend at that time…mad.  Down right crazy.  And Egypt, well … people really do reference that country when I talk of my home town of Cairo – –Ohio that is and pronounced like the syrup and not the Egyptian city, which would (and does) get me awkward glances because, unbeknownst to me, not everyone is familiar with such brand of corn syrup.  To which, I would (will) just throw up my hands, ask if they live under a rock, and explain that Cairo has an elevator, a place where grain is stored – not a human mover.

Cleveland’s West Side Market is a total gem.  I have spoke of it here before.  How could I not?  Food lover or not – it is hard not to fall in love with the place for one small reason or another.  I find charm in the whole kitten caboodle.  There is a method when you go.  First, you check out the veggies/fruit section…but you will return and retrace your steps later because the deals only improve as the day progresses.  And who wants to carry around a melon all afternoon?  But as you walk and scan and dodge oncoming traffic, you will be called to/hustled by those manning the produce sections.  ’Blueberries, 2 for $3.  A slice of orange for the pretty lady.  Pineapple? ‘  It will be crowded, loud, and one too many strollers ( if it be a weekend), but I believe that is what makes it great.  The energy that is contained in those stalls makes grocery shopping at a supermarket seem unbearable… minus the strollers – those I could live the rest of my days without (sorry moms, while I see their practicality, they are not meant for crowded markets where merely walking can be difficult, one does not like to encounter a stroller in the shin when going for some kielbasa…I think you can understand).

Once you have adequately surveyed the produce and made a mental note of the stand with the ripest tomatoes or the cheapest lemons – you head on over to the market house, which houses over 100 vendors – ranging from those selling homemade pasta to pigs feet and everything in-between.  But before you notice any of this…anything at all, you will be confronted with an array of smells that work only to entice and seduce you to venture further into the mass of fellow market goers.

Your eyes catch up with your olfactory senses and what lies before you is an interior concourse, laid out in a maze of squares…vendors lining each square side, optimizing surface area.  The floor is worn red brick, smooth, slick, and full of character.  The ceiling, however, is my favorite aspect of the market itself.  It is arched, which isn’t quite as noticeable from the outside as it is on the inside, and is a Gustivano ‘tile arch system‘ creation.  The building itself is more rectangular(think football field) than square (however all squares are rectangles, just not all rectangles are squares) and at the bookends of the building, there are large blue tinted opaque windows, letting diffused natural light in…and on the far end of the main hall, overlooking the lovely chaos, is a large ornate clock, teal in color,  and an American flag.

My first stop is and will forever be a stop for coffee… bit of caffeinated fuel and then I am off.  I do best when I venture to the market alone because if there is one thing I do well, it is navigate a crowd.  I am like a running back – find the holes and never stop moving your legs.  This being said, The Market is one of my must-go favorite places to take family and friends who are visiting for a weekend or  a great place to meet friends and gather ingredients for a dinner to be fixed at home, together over a bottle of wine.  Young toddlers to aging grandparents to grumpy teenagers, it is a fast favorite for all.

This past excursion was made on a rainy cold Saturday afternoon – coffee was drank, the best peppered beef jerky was snacked upon, fresh kielbasa and homemade peiroges were bought with dinner in mind, brandy filled cordials were hidden away, a lemon curd and strawberry preserve crepe was swooned over and devoured while walking in the rain (the crepe man needs his own post – he was making lives better one crepe at a time), and blood oranges were coveted.

I have a problem finding  blood oranges.  I don’t live near a Whole Foods and the grocery near me does not find blood oranges to be a necessity when they have an ample amount of perfectly decent naval oranges piled high down aisle 3.  So, when I came across blood oranges at the West Side Market, I may have squealed in delight and bought six from the very first stand.

 

 

Blood Orange Bars
 
Ingredients
  • ½ Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • 1 + ½ Cups All Purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Cup of Blood Orange Juice
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 12 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Grated Orange Zest
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • Powdered Sugar – for dusting
Instructions
  1. Begin by browning the butter for the crust. Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. The butter will begin to pop and sizzle and then foam and then eventually turn clear and golden, with a wooden spoon or spatula or by swirling the pan, stir the butter until the milk solids on the bottom of the pan start to turn brown. Once they have reached a deep amber color, remove from heat and transfer to a glass bowl. DO NOT LEAVE THE STOVE – it will burn in a moments notice. From start to finish, this should take about 10 minutes. Place in freezer for about 15 minutes to harden.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 8x11inch baking dish (or an 8×8 – the crust will just be a tad thicker, or you can make the edges higher) with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Once the butter has become a solid again, use a pastry blender, fork, two knives, or fingers, blend butter and egg yolk into dry ingredients until butter is smaller than pea sized and mixture resembles coarse sand. The dough will be extremely crumbly.
  4. Dump dough into parchment lined baking dish and press into the bottom of the pan and about half way up the sides if using an 8×11 inch pan or further up the sides if using an 8x8inch pan.
  5. Place in preheated oven for about 20 to 22 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool while you make filling. Keep oven on.
  6. Whisk together eggs and egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Have a metal strainer at the ready.
  7. In a medium pan (about 3 qts), combine blood orange juice, sugar, butter, and zest. Place over medium – low heat and stir until butter melts.
  8. Slowly whisk in ½ cup of warm orange mixture into the whisked eggs, stirring constantly, tempering them. Whisk the warm orange and egg mixture back into sauce pan containing the rest of the orange mixture.
  9. Cook over medium – low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. It should coat the back of a wooden spoon with very little dripping off.
  10. Remove from heat and pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer, pushing it through using a spatula (catching any small pieces of cooked egg and zest) into pre-baked crust. Place in oven for about 10 to 15 minutes until filling is set and the edges are golden in color.
  11. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. Prior to serving, dust with powdered sugar. Store in refrigerator in air tight container upto 3 days or so.

Brown Butter Peach Raspberry Bars

It is September  (oy!) and I have already pumped out a few pumpkin desserts.  It doesn’t seem right.  A pumpkin freakazoid, I am not.  I am not one of those chicks just waiting for Starbucks to roll out their limited edition Pumpkin Spice latte (it is like Disney releasing Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King out of ‘the Disney vault’ every year around Christmas, real limited there Walt) – it is pumpkin flavored syrup, and I am a bit leery of flavored syrups, plus I prefer my coffee black.  But I am one of those chicks waiting for pumpkin doughnuts (or donuts, I am never quite sure how to spell something so delicious) at Dunkin’.  Because, seriously, they may not have an ounce of real pumpkin in them, however they are freaking amazeballs.  Especially if you are eating them along with a hot cup of joe.

That past paragraph just proves I prefer to eat my calories versus drinking them…

But does flipping the calendar from August to September truly mean it is pumpkin season?  Perhaps, in some corners of this world it does, or corners of our brains.  Brains that are a tad bit fried from summer.  Brains that have been deprived of cinnamon and sugar and bodies craving sweatshirts and chunky sweaters.  However, I never crave pumpkin until about November.

Which means…It is still summer fruit season in this house – and I just got peaches in my CSA this week and it isn’t officially fall (and therefore time to break out all things pumpkin) until next week sometime.  So, peaches it is.  But don’t count these out as a summer only dessert…the browned butter adds a hint of fall, but doesn’t shout it from the roof tops.  It is like the smell of the crisp morning air this week that made it feel almost like fall, but then you have the warm (seriously, downright hot) sunshine of the afternoon that makes you dream of sweet juicy peaches.

Oh, September, how you mess with my brain …

Who cares if you have fully swung into fall or grasping to the last rays of warm summer sunshine…find peaches, brown butter, and bake these bars…They are all sorts of loveliness.

 

Brown Butter Peach Raspberry Bars

Makes a 9x13in pan (12-16 bars)

  • 1 cup White sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Raspberry Jam

Brown your butter: Over medium heat, place butter into a small/medium saucepan.  Melt.  Once melted, the butter will foam and then it will turn clear/golden, and finally begin to brown and smell nutty.  Stir frequently, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan.   Keep a close eye on the pan, it will go from browned to burnt in a blink of an eye.  Once brown, remove from heat and place in a small bowl.  Set it in the freezer until solid (about 30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375F.  Butter a 9×13 inch pan (or line it with parchment paper).  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together  sugar, baking powder, flour, cinnamon, and salt.  Using a pastry blender or a mixer with paddle attachment, cut chilled browned butter and egg into mixture.  It will be crumbly, but will come together when pressed between thumb and pointer finger.

Press 3/4 of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared 9x13inch pan.  Evenly spread raspberry jam over crust, leaving about a 1/2 inch border without jam. In a single layer, tile peach slices over raspberry jam.

Scatter remaining crumbs over top of the peaches.  Place bars in preheated oven and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the jam is bubbly around the edges and the crumb becomes golden brown.   Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting into squares.

 

Yogurt Cake w/ Peach Blueberry Compote

Yo!  I have a cake for you today.

And if you bake this cake…you will have cake tomorrow.

It goes along the lines of the proverb … give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish…

 

 

Proverbs don’t just pop into everyone’s brains randomly?
It happens to me all day long…well, not proverbs, but thoughts that have no purpose for being there.

Such as, when you walk down a wide hallway (i.e a hospital hallway) and you pass someone going the opposite way, you both keep to the right, same is said for bike paths, and sidewalks.  We go to the right.  So, in England and other parts of Great Britain (all of Great Britain drives on the wrong side…err the left side of the road, no? I need to wikipedia this…), do they then keep to the left?  I don’t remember encountering this situation when I was there years ago…but I was in a large group and we just took up the whole damn sidewalk.  Suppose I go back … I need to figure this out…don’t want to look like a silly American or get run-over on a bike path.

And I wonder this in all seriousness.

Also, we are getting purple scrubs for the pharmacy department.  They are considered lilac in color.  Or Barney-esque.  I am super pumped to wear scrubs when I roll out of bed 20 minutes late (or later…let’s be honest) and every pair of dress pants I own are scattered about the floor and wrinkled and the rest of my clothes are in the laundry room half in/half out of the dryer…and did I mention that I still need to jump in the shower?  And they call me a grown adult!  Ha!  These mornings I will gladly darn my purple scrubs.  However, this week I thought it great if the whole department could wear the purple scrubs, take a group photo, and title it ‘What a Grape Bunch’.   Even right now, this makes me giggle uncontrollably.  Do you get the pun??  Hilarious.  Picture the fruit of the loom grape dude (minus the horse).

Seriously.  Puns.  Funny.
No one found it as funny as I.

And if they did laugh, they were probably just laughing at the mere sight of me doubled over in laughter.

The picture has to happen.  

 

Randomness just pops in.  And has a habit of staying awhile.

But this cake…not so random.  This was 100% premeditated cake baking.  My CSA two weeks ago provided me with fresh yogurt, peaches, and blueberries.  The yogurt, while I am sure would have been excellent eaten alone, in a parfait, blended into a smoothie, etc…but when I get fresh yogurt I prefer to bake with it.  Nothing adds moisture like yogurt.  If a cake calls for sour-cream or buttermilk (anything with a bit of an acidic bite) – I substitute with yogurt, if available.

And the peaches and blueberries…well I refrained from just eating them, straight up.  It was tough.  I LOVE BLUEBERRIES.  And there is nothing better than eating a peach while perched over the kitchen sink while juice runs down your chin and forearm, eventually finding its way to the tip of your elbow.  That my friends, is summer.

The yogurt cake I have for you today is amazingly simple…and quick.  I almost guarantee that you have all the ingredients.  And the pan…well, I recommend using a springform pan because it does rise, but I think a regular round cake pan (with high sides) would do the trick.  I think.  But don’t shout if things go a-rye…I confessed that I truly had no clue.  So if you are worried and are cursing me that you don’t have a springform pan, I am sure your neighbor does…or perhaps your sister or that weird aunt across town.  Just ask.  It is totally worth it.

And the compote.  Seriously easy.  Seriously delicious.  And the leftovers (if you are lucky enough to have them) can totally be eaten by the spoonful or swirled into your morning oatmeal, morning parfait, or atop your waffles and pancakes.  Oh! and don’t forget about ice cream or perhaps lemon sorbet…holy smokes.  DO THIS. NOW!  It is a total summer must.

Also another summer must…blowing a bicycle tire and walking the remaining 3-ish miles home…Total summer must.  I think I am about to learn how to fix a bicycle tire…

Yogurt Cake w/ Peach Blueberry Compote
 
Ingredients
  • 1+1/2 Cups Full Fat Yogurt
  • ⅔ Cup Olive Oil – use best quality you can get your hands on
  • 1 +1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2+1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2+1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • Peach and Blueberry Compote
  • 2 Peaches, peeled and diced (large)
  • 1 Cups Blueberries
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon cornstarch (so there is no clumping)
  • ¼ Cup Water
  • Juice of ½ Lemon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper ( or grease with butter).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt – set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together yogurt, olive oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk in dry ingredients and mix until batter is smooth and no bumps remain.
  4. Pour cake batter into prepared springform pan and place in preheated oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Place tinfoil over cake towards the end of the baking time if the top begins to brown.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes before releasing the sides of the pan.
  6. While cake is cooling, prepare compote.
  7. In a medium sized saucepan, combine all ingredients for compote and set over medium heat. Bring contents to a boil and then reduce heat and let cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, until mixture thickens. Stir occasionally.
  8. Remove from heat and let cool before spooning over cake.
  9. Store in refrigerator in a sealed container and use as you like. Can be reheated in microwave (about 30 seconds, stir).

Cake recipe is slightly adapted from The Kitchn

Note:  This cake would be great with any kind of citrus zest.  Lemon, lime, or orange zest, grated and rubbed into the sugar and then go on with baking as you would have otherwise.  Oh!  and no peaches?  Try some plums.  Or straight up berries.  I’m not sure you could screw this up.

 

 

Cherry Chocolate Banana Bread

I don’t like banana things.  I like bananas…I take that back, I love actual, real life, peel and eat, yellow … and let’s be clear on the yellow…darkish yellow, not the new yellow that leads one to believe it was green just moments ago… they must be, ya know, perfectly ripe bananas.  I just detest banana things.  What does banana things include?  I am so very glad you asked…you didn’t?  Oh! Well…too bad.

Banana chips or dried bananas – ya know, those thin slices of hardened fruit (errr dried) that are found primarily in trail mixes that inevitably result in the almonds, walnuts, cranberries, raisins, M&M’s (or chocolate buttons if you aren’t careful), and heaven knows what else they have thought to cram into trail mixes these days, taste like bananas.  Gross.  Gawdawful.

 

Banana flavored Runts (or any banana ‘flavored’ candy).  Who eats this stuff?  It doesn’t even remotely taste like a banana.  Have the creators of the infamous banana ‘flavor’ actually consumed a banana in their life?  I think not.  Banana flavored Laffy Taffy – NO!  1)  It doesn’t taste like bananas and 2) Laffy Taffy never fails to numb my lips, resulting in me drooling on myself.  Fact.

Banana Splits.  Bananas DO NOT belong in my ice cream.  Brownies, cookies, nuts, cherries, strawberries…yes, go right ahead – join the ice cream party…but bananas, please stay at home, you are not welcome.  And speaking of ice cream, banana flavored popsicles…who enjoys these so-called treats?  Probably you…and I have now offended you, but I can’t be sorry because it is disgusting.

 

 

And have you seen on Pinterest these two ingredient banana cookies and banana frozen ‘yogurt’ or would it be ice cream?  First, these are labeled as ‘healthy’…well, yes, bananas are healthy, or healthier than say a bag of potato chips or Oreos, however – they are chock full of sugar and eating a tray of banana cookies – which is inevitably what will happen when something is labeled healthy and is also a cookie…you will undoubtedly eat a dozen of them and still crave the damn chocolate chip cookie that you were trying to avoid in the first place, which would have been a wiser choice (because you would have only eaten 1, ha!) plus, it wouldn’t have tasted like a banana.  Which leads me to the second point…why would you want a banana flavored cookie…just eat a banana or a cookie.  No need to mash the two together.   ACK!

Banana bread/muffins/cakes/pancakes/waffles….No where near my cup of tea (or coffee – we are talking about me here…).  Banana nut muffins are my morning nemesis.  Mark this down…it is THE ONE sweet good that I will turn down given the chance ( not counting the banana cookies mentioned above)….  How come when heat is applied to a banana, all of its heavenly goodness is removed?  Banana foster – no, just give me the pound cake and butter/sugar/caramel goodness and perhaps swap the bananas for peaches or apples.  Or plums.  Why bananas?  Peach foster, please.

There are slight exceptions to the rule…a plain old banana can be fancied up with a dollop of peanut butter or sliced and covered in chocolate hard shell sauce and frozen.  And I think the chocolate bit needs emphasized…the bananas must be sliced and never placed whole on a stick, frozen, and dipped in chocolate, and then eaten in public.  No one, and I mean NO ONE can pull off eating a chocolate covered banana on a stick in public.  NO ONE!  Maybe my head is in the gutter…it normally is…but come on!

Get the point?  I greatly dislike bananas unless it is just a banana…so why do I continue to bake banana bread?  Because I am bonkers and think that if I stuff more things into banana bread that I will actually enjoy it (next up, peanut butter banana bread?!?)…and honestly, this chocolate banana bread came pretty damn close and so did this chocolate banana zucchini bread…I think the common link here is the chocolate.

This go around, I stuffed cherries, chocolate (that was sea salted), and walnuts along side the bananas…Think Cherry Garcia Ice Cream, but with the addition of banana and well, bread.  I don’t know.  But I do know my older brother would have eaten the whole loaf given the chance, since cherry cordial ice cream is his favorite and he actually likes bananas in his ice cream or he likes bananas in his bread.  What?!?  All I know, he eats what I bake and well he didn’t get any….but he would have liked it.  Those that were lucky enough to have this stuffed into their bags as they were leaving my house ( you don’t leave without a doggy bag made from my freezer) texted me as they arrived home, that the this bread was delicious and the chocolate made it nice and rich.

I’ll have to take their word for it.

Cherry Chocolate Banana Bread
 
makes 1 loaf (9×5)
Ingredients
  • 1+1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ Cup Quick Cooking Oats
  • ¾ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¾ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¾ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¾ Cup Light Brown Sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 Eggs
  • ⅓ Cup 2% Greek Yogurt
  • ½ Cup Unsalted Butter, Melted and cooled
  • 1 Cup Mashed Bananas (about 3 overly ripe bananas)
  • ½ Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 Cup Pitted Cherries
  • ½ Cup Toasted Walnuts (or pecans), roughly chopped
  • 4 ounce dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped (or about ½ cup chocolate chips)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside. (i also use parchment paper and let a little bit hang over the edges for easy removal)
  2. In a small bowl, toss together cherries and almond extract. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl using a wooden spoon, mix together melted butter and bananas. Blend in eggs and yogurt. Mix until everything is well combined.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  6. Fold in cherries (with any juice in bowl), toasted walnuts, and chocolate to batter.
  7. Pour batter (it’ll be thick, so I use the term ‘pour’, lightly) into prepared loaf pan and place in preheated oven and bake until toothpick, when inserted near the middle comes out nearly clean with a few crumbs attached – about 50-60 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool on rack for about 20 minutes before inverting on wire rack and letting cool completely.