I hardly ever buy bananas here in Uruguay. When you’re used to Brazilian bananas, you don’t really care for the Ecuadorian ones, which have to be harvested much earlier than ideal to arrive here fresh.
“Hardly ever” doesn’t mean “never,” so I had bought some the other day and dumbly forgot about them! I’m still not sure how that happened, but that’s ok, because overripe banana means banana bread, one of the tastiest things you can bake!
Looking for a new take on it, I found this recipe by Deb, which seemed pretty much infallible: it’s banana and chocolate! Marbled! It was so tasty that, less than a month after the first try, I bought bananas again and let them get overripe ON PURPOSE, so I could bake this again! 🙂
3 large and veeeeeeery ripe bananas – you know, the ones you considered tossing? Those.
115 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted – well, I only buy unsalted butter, but if all you have is salted butter, don’t worry: just don’t add salt to the batter.
145 g (3/4 cup) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
130 g (1 cup) + 35 g (1/4 cup) flour – leave those separate, they’re used at different steps!
½ tsp ground cinnamon – you know me: I used about 1 tsp allspice instead 😀
20 g (1/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
130 g (3/4 cup) chocolate chips – I used the mini chips, with 50% cocoa, but next time I’ll use a darker chocolate, chopped.
As in most cake recipes, I started by pre-heating the oven to 180 C (350 F) and greasing the pan – in this case, a 9×5 loaf pan.
In a medium-sized pan, melt the butter. In that same pan, mash the bananas very well. Add the brown sugar, egg, vanilla, baking soda, and salt, and mix thoroughly using a rubber spatula. Add 1 cup of flour, mixing until you can’t see any specks of flour.
Pour half of the batter into a bowl – I totally eyeballed it, but you can be a proper baker and weight it. To one half of the batter, add the remaining ¼ cup of flour and ground cinnamon, mixing well. To the other half, add the cocoa powder and chocolate chips.
Now it’s time to create the marble effect: place dollops of dark and white batter in the pan, as in a checkerboard. You’ll probably need to add a second layer of batter, so the top layer should be opposite the bottom: place a dollop of white batter over the dark batter, and vice-versa. Then, push a butter knife (or an offset spatula) until the bottom of the pan and drag it in a wave motion from one side of the pan to the other, just once – this way, you’ll get a marbled batter and not make it all one flavor!
Bake for approximately one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean – be careful not to confuse melted chocolate chips for raw batter! Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then run a spatula around the pan, remove the bread from it, and let it cool over a wire rack. I like to serve it warm, but it is great at room temperature too!
FREEZER: This freezes perfectly. I usually let it cool completely before slicing it and placing in a Ziploc bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Some years ago, I visited Paris, ate a delicious version of the soup, and vowed to reproduce it when I arrived back home. Unfortunately, procrastination won. I didn’t have the right bowls. I couldn’t find the right cheese. The camera was out of battery. You know how it goes.
When I finally created the courage to make it (and let go of some details), I realized it was quite easy – all it really takes is patience. I basically followed Julia Child‘s recipe (and in this wonderful video, she also teaches how to sharpen knives! <3), but then I procrastinated again, and it took me over a month to write this recipe! 😀
For six “civilized-people” portions (a.k.a., Sky and I ate well over half for dinner), you will need:
5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 Tbsp butter – I totally eyeballed that.
1 Tbsp olive oil – yep, I eyeballed that one too.
1 tsp salt – this I measured! 😀
3 Tbsp flour
2 L beef stock – Deb suggests mushroom stock for a vegetarian version
1 cup white wine – in the video, she uses red wine, but most recipes I have read call for white wine, so that’s what I did.
3 Tbsp cognac – I skipped it.
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper
To serve (technically, this is optional, but it really isn’t):
6 ovenproof bowls
6 slices of bread – I used large slices of Italian bread, but next time I’ll use baguette slices, as it will be easier to eat… 😀
1-2 cups of coarsely shredded gruyère – as I don’t really like gruyère, I used an Uruguayan cheese that melts easily (colonia) and parmesan. And yes, I used plenty!
Start by slicing the onions as thinly as you can. Here, I needed about six medium-sized onions to get five cups. In a big, thick-bottomed pan, melt the butter and the olive oil. Place the onions, and toss to coat them in oil. On the lowest heat, cover the pan and let the onions cook for about 15 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn up the heat a little bit, and add the salt. The original recipe also called for a pinch of sugar, but I totally forgot about it. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often, until all the onions are brown − don’t be lazy about it: that caramelization is what is going to make your soup tasty! Sprinkle the flour over the caramelized onions and stir for about three minutes. Add the wine and the stock slowly, stirring continuously (and don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the pan!)
Season with pepper and salt (unless you’re using salted stock). I resisted the urge to add paprika! Simmer over medium heat, cover the pan and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. If you’re using cognac, now is time to add it.
You can serve as it is and it will be great, but really, the best thing to do is broil it! Toast the bread slices and then butter them – once in hell, hug the devil! Divide the soup into six ovenproof bowls. In each of them, add one piece of toast (again, next time I’ll use a baguette; the smaller slices will be easier to handle!) and cover the bowl with a generous layer of cheese.
Bake the soups on a tray for about 20 minutes − I used the toaster oven, with heat coming from top and bottom, but you can be normal and just use your broiler to make it nice and golden. Dig in!
For Easter, I decided to unleash my inner hipster and make a chocolate-FREE dessert! The strawberries at the supermarket looked inviting, so I decided to bake this cake that I had seen made by Paula from The Cookie Shop and Deb from Smitten Kitchen, all based on Martha Stewart’s recipe! 😀
This cake is everything you want from a strawberry cake. I hadn’t had such a good cake – and such a pretty one – in a long time! The best thing is that it’s not very hard; actually, it comes together reasonably quickly.
When the cake came out of the oven, Sky asked me: do we have cream? I opened the fridge and saw a small package of cream. I whipped it to serve with the cake, making our dessert even richer!
For a 10-inch cake, you’ll need:
85g (6 Tbsp) butter, softened
200g (1 and 1/2 cup) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
200g (1 cup) sugar, plus 2 Tbsp to sprinkle over the cake – I used regular sugar in the batter, and turbinado sugar to sprinkle over the cake
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
400 g strawberries, hulled and halved
Butter a 10-inch round pie plate and pre-heat the oven to 180 C (350 F). It is such a quick process that I actually started pre-heating the oven before making the batter 😀
Start by sifting together the flour, salt, and baking powder. I must confess I never sift – I follow Chef John’s trick of whisking them thoroughly for 2 minutes. This gets rid of any lumps and saves me from having to wash the sieve! 😀
Using your stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar. The recipes usually say something about “mix until the cream is pale,” but Uruguayan butter is pretty yellow, so that never really happens – it has never stopped me from baking anyway, though!
Add the egg and mix well. Then, add the milk and vanilla, mixing well. At this point, the mixture looked a bit curdled, which is normal for this kind of cake.
As usual, to avoid over-mixing the batter, at this stage I change to a hand whisk. Add the flour mixture little by little, mixing just until you can’t see any flour specks.
Transfer the batter to the buttered pie plate. Place the strawberry halves over the dough, cut side down. Try to place them as close together as you can!
Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of sugar (I used turbinado) over the strawberries and bake at 180 C (350 F) for 10 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 170 C (325 F) and bake until it’s golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes clean – the recipes said this would take about an hour, but in my oven it took only 45 minutes.
Let the cake cool over a wire rack and serve with whipped cream!
Of the recipes I made for this holiday series, this was the biggest hit BY FAR! As it yields 24 mini-muffins, I thought I’d have some leftovers to freeze, but they disappeared! I had to make it again, so I could take the pictures – and once again, there were no leftovers! 😀
This is a pretty easy recipe: only five ingredients, and you don’t even need a stand mixer! The hardest steps are chopping the nuts and buttering the mini muffin tins. This last step is mandatory, though – I tried making it with paper cups, and it all got stuck! 😦 #truestory
1 cup brown sugar – press well into the measuring cup!
½ cup all-purpose flour – yes, that’s all it takes!
1 cup pecans, chopped – chop first, then measure
2/3 cup (150 g) melted butter
2 large eggs
This is easy! Start by thoroughly buttering the mini-muffin tins.
In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, the flour, and the chopped pecans. In another bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and add the melted butter. Now all you have to do is combine both bowls!
Fill the well-buttered mini-muffin tins 2/3 of the way. Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into them comes out clean. With the help of a butter knife, remove the mini-muffins from the tin right away. Let them cool on a wire rack.
When they are completely cooled, place them in a nice gift box and brighten someone’s day! 🙂