Monday, March 9, 2020

Chocolate and Bananas - a Baking Post

When I’m staying with either of my parents a childhood love of bananas comes back in full force, at home they seem to be a real effort to eat, which is why I had 2 very ripe specimens left in the fruit bowl this morning (when they start to go a bit mushy I just can’t).

At least it was an opportunity to make Sue Quinn’s Brown Butter, Banana and Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies which have been on my to do list for as long as I’ve had Sue Quinn’s brilliant book Cocoa.

The cookie recipe only needs one banana, and doesn’t need doubling. Years ago when I worked in the kitchen of a nursery I used to make a really good banana loaf, unfortunately I’ve lost that recipe in the mists of time and couldn’t find anything that sounded much like it when I started looking (in my memories there might have been sultanas in it?) but a Mary Berry recipe looked hopeful.

To be fair I chose the Mary Berry recipe partly for its small quantities (it’s on the BBC website) and because it would finish off an open packet of chocolate chips as well as use that miserable looking banana, but it was not a success. This is partly because I’m a little bit ambivalent about the flavour of baked bananas - it’s quite a strong one, and in this loaf cake seems oddly synthetic. The texture is also a bit odd - sticky, very moist, and a touch rubbery (for want of a better word). It’s not a cake I’ll make again.

The cookies on the other hand turned out really well*. Tahini, salt, and the brown butter all do their bit to balance the banana and make something which tastes just grown up enough. I didn’t have the spelt flour the recipe called for, but will make sure to have it if I make these again. I’m wondering what Rye flour would be like too, and peanut butter instead of tahini (depending on what’s in the cupboard). There’s a link to the recipe Here, but honestly - buy the book.

I’ve enthused about ‘Cocoa’ a few times in the past year, but it really is an excellent book. Everything I’ve made from it has been excellent, it’s much more than just sweet things, has made me a committed fan of cocoa nibs, and is the first place I look if I want something a bit special to cook for an occasion. The flavour combinations are great, and all the information about cocoa and chocolate is brilliant too - especially the bits about buying, tasting, and storing.

*If I’m ambivalent about baked banana, D is not. He ate a couple of the cookies, and took more away with him. He wasn’t impressed by the loaf cake either though.


  1. I'm with you about mushy bananas, if they're too spotty I just put them in the freezer and save them for cake. There's an excellent recipe for banana bundt cake by Dorie Greenspan in her Baking book, I usually add chocolate chips to it. And I think the best cake I ever made was banana with a whipped ganache filling and ganache glaze. My roommate ate the last piece and I was furious!

    1. that does sound good, and there's few things more frustrating in a house share than someone eating the treat you were saving yourself. That's friendship ending behaviour.