Banana recipes two weeks in a row for Baked Sunday Mornings? I’m actually okay with that. I think I’ve made my peace with bananas thanks to last week’s Chocolate Banana Tart, and I couldn’t love this recipe more! The Crunchy Peanut Butter Banana Bread from the Peanut Butter chapter of Baked Elements is my favorite banana bread to date. I’ve really come to enjoy banana bread (late to the party, I know), and this one is loaded with chunky peanut butter and chocolate. So really, it’s hard to go wrong there. 🙂
There is also a recipe for homemade peanut butter, but I decided to stick with my classic Skippy. Normally, I will err on the side of natural ingredients, but try as I might, I just don’t care for natural peanut butter. Skippy encapsulates the flavor of childhood with its familiar sweet/salty goodness, and the natural versions that I’ve tried just don’t carry that nostalgic taste. Plus, I’m always worried about how natural PB would behave in baking recipes, what with the oil-separating business.
Banana bread falls under the category of quick breads, meaning that it’s a type of bread that relies on chemical leaveners to rise, rather than yeast. The batter is extremely quick and easy to pull together. Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the mashed banana, peanut butter, and the other wet ingredients in another bowl. Toss the chocolate chips with a tablespoon of flour (I used mini chips) and add that to the banana mixture– I presume that the flour helps keep the chips suspended in the batter, rather than sinking to the bottom.
Then you’ll make a well in the flour mixture, into which you will pour the wet stuff. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour into the banana mixture just until the white streaks disappear. The batter will be thick and mighty chunky… as you might have guessed.
I’m guilty of collecting an obscene amount of baking and cake decorating wares, some of which I’ve kept for years because, well, they’re too cute to use. (Yes, I know that this defies the logic of most normal people. Let’s just move along…) I’ve had a set of darling mini paper loaf pans for ages, and something told me that this was the right recipe to use them for. I was thinking of making small loaves for sharing purposes, plus doing so would also hopefully avoid that issue of the huge center split that never seems to bake through in a full-sized loaf.
With the overfilling fiasco that occurred with my mini Vanilla Bean Malt Cakes a few weeks ago, I was extra careful not to overfill the loaf pans. I filled 10 mini pans about ⅔ full, and I had not-quite-enough batter for one more loaflet. (Can I make up that word?) As it turns out, I could have probably filled them each a tiny bit more and used up the extra batter, but better to be safe than sorry! I reduced the oven temperature to 325°F and baked the loaves for 30 minutes. The reduced temperature helps them bake evenly in the centers, given the shorter baking time.
I was so pleased with how these little loaves turned out! Every single one came out so cute, with deliciously chunky cracks on top. (And in fact, no giant center crack.) I felt like they needed a little something visually, so I decided to make a simple peanut butter glaze, which added a touch more sweetness. (I think I was bent on making a glaze with the right consistency after that thin stuff on my mini Bundts…) I added an extra tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar to thicken it to a drizzleable consistency, and there was a *ton* left, so next time I’d make about ¼ of that recipe!
I couldn’t wait to break into a loaf– they are perfectly breakfast-sized, by the way. The mini banana loaves were impossibly moist and soft– absolutely heaven! The texture contrast of the crunchy peanut butter was very pleasing. You can even add extra chopped peanuts for more crunch, if you wish.
I almost altered the recipe, and I’m so glad I didn’t. I had considered using toffee bits instead of chocolate chips, but I was informed by the hubby that the trifecta of banana/peanut butter/chocolate is the best thing in the world, and certainly not something to be messed with, so I let the chocolate be. At first, I actually found the chocolate to be a bit… distracting. I say this knowing that some people will brand me a heretic, but I felt like it was hard to taste each of the flavors because of the chocolate. Although I’ve learned to appreciate the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, it’s never been my favorite; I also prefer bananas with peanut butter or caramel above chocolate. However, the flavors melded beautifully overnight, and while toffee bits would make an awesome variation in its own right, I’m glad to have experienced the original version first. The chocolate really grew on me, and then I couldn’t get enough! (I’m also thinking that a ribbon of caramel laced throughout the bread would be fairly mind-blowing…)
I have to say that I’d be hard-pressed to bake a full-sized loaf again after the success of making this recipe into mini loaves. They are adorable, bake more quickly and evenly, and are easier to give away. If you love banana bread, you definitely need this recipe in your life, STAT. If not, it could very well be your gateway banana bread drug. I can’t say enough good things about it– just wish I had more! The recipe for Crunchy Peanut Butter Banana Bread lives at Baked Sunday Mornings, where you can also take a peek at my fellow bakers’ lovely loaves! 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2014.