Yes, you do need another banana bread recipe. And this isn’t just any other banana bread recipe. This Vanilla Almond Chocolate Chip Banana Bread is lightly, fluffy, tender, moist, and just sweet enough. It’s studded with rich dark chocolate, too. Absolutely scrumptious!
When the baker at work put in her two week’s notice, my first reaction and immediate response to our head chef was “I’LL DO IT!” He gave me a “yeah, riiiiight” sort of look, which at first I took as an insult. Oh, you don’t think I can do it?? That’s not what he meant. I’m the manager, and I have several roles in our cafe, but being the head baker for the cafe, the hotel, and the bistro simply would not fit into my job description. So I quickly rewrote my response to something along the lines of, “I wish I could fill those shoes, but I can’t work both positions. I’ll do everything I can help, though!” And for that, he was grateful. And for the record, I totally could do it.
Within a week or so, our new baker arrived for her first day on the job, but it wasn’t until about a week after that when I had a free minute to chat with her and hear that she specializes in vegan and gluten-free baking. In other words, she should fit the shoes of this position just fine. On my way out of work that day, I grabbed one of our gluten-free blueberry hemp muffins for a snack and took a bite. I chewed two or three times and began questioning every single baked good in the cafe. And hemp. I’m always questioning hemp.
I approached our baker the next week with hesitation, as I’m still learning that leadership art of correcting mistakes, making suggestions, and implementing much-needed change. I’m not that great at telling bakers that their recipes need improvement because I remember how difficult accepting feedback and criticism was for me during my first few years of baking. Before I even finished my sentence, the baker knew I was telling her the blueberry hemp muffins… well, sucked. Thank goodness.
We set up a meeting to discuss other changes that needed to be made to the baked goods and tossed around a handful of new ideas, too. For example, it dawned on me that we serve coffee, breakfast, lunch, and snacks in between, but we don’t have a banana bread. What?! Are we imposters?! Almost. My goodness. I tested this recipe one night in my own kitchen and, much to my pleasant surprise, it worked perfectly - undeniably sweet banana flavor + tender and moist texture + well-distributed chunks of dark chocolate. So, I wrote it out and brought it in for our baker, who immediately set aside two bananas in a brown paper bag so that they would ripen as soon as possible. She’s a keeper!
I tasted the bread first, just for quality control and to make sure the recipe was written and followed properly. Check. So I brought a slice to my boss, our General Manager and the middle man between me and upper management, and sat directly across from him as he took a bite, awaiting the childlike expression of pure bliss to appear on his face. “All I can taste is the chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but it’s not healthy,” he claimed.
Oh. Cool. Well, that probably wasn’t the best way to convince you that you MUST make this loaf if you consider yourself a lover of the classic banana bread and want a healthier, grain-free twist, but considering you know me better than you know my boss, my assumption is that you’ll trust me first. So, here ya’ go. Enjoy! Bake up some banaynay bread and have yourself a good time.
Makes 1 8x4 loaf, about 6-8 slices
2 extra ripe bananas
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons RX Bar Vanilla Almond Butter
2 large pasture-raised eggs
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, plus more for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8x4 loaf pan with oil. If you don’t have or can’t find an 8x4 pan, an 8x5 pan will work, but the bread won’t rise as tall.
Combine the wet ingredients. Use a stand-mixer if you have one, or a hand-mixer, to mash the bananas. At the same time, you can add in the eggs, nut butter, coconut sugar, and almond extract (if using). Use a sharp knife to cut a slit through the vanilla bean lengthwise, then open it up, and carefully scrape out the center. Add this to the wet ingredients and continue mixing for 4-5 minutes to ensure the eggs are aerated, as this will contribute significantly to the fluffiness of the loaf.
In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients - the flour, salt, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon. Once you’ve mixed enough so that no clumps of flour or baking powder remain, add the dry ingredients to the wet about 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing after each addition. This will ensure that the batter is smooth and well-combined. Finally, add the chocolate chips and stir one last time.
Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and top with a few extra chocolate chips, just for good measure. Bake for 35-38 minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven when the top is a deep golden brown color and when a toothpick poked through the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool completely before removing it from the pan. When it has cooled, run a knife along the edge of the loaf and gently press the knife up against the loaf to help release it from the pan. Place one hand on top of the loaf itself and the other under the pan, flip the pan over, and catch the loaf as it falls out.
Slice and enjoy! Store leftovers in the fridge for up to two weeks, or in the freezer for up to two months.