I’ve been spending a lot of time downtown, working freelance on content strategy at an ad agency. The agency is having a Halloween party baking contest. So, I thought I would test a few recipes before I decide on an entry. These Devil’s Double Dark Chocolate Cookies just might be the evil winners. 😀
I think the unique, delectable taste of these devil-made-me-do-it indulgences is due to two ingredients; Hershey’s 100% Special Dark Cacoa powder and ground caynenne red pepper.
This is my take on a Dark Chocolate Banana Bread recipe adapted from food blogger Maria of “Two Peas and Their Pod.” My ingredients and measurements are a bit different from her original recipe.
I used unbleached flour, Hershey’s Special Dark, 100% cacao powder, 4 small brown, over ripe, previously frozen, then thawed, bananas, crushed walnuts, olive oil, agave nectar, and Ghirardelli bittersweet, 60% cacao, chocolate chips.
A printable version of my recipe is at the bottom of this post.
To start: Read the recipe, all the way through. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F. Then gather and measure all your ingredients.
Grease a 9-by-4 1/2 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Mix in the crushed walnuts so they are powdery and covered. Set that bowl aside.
In a large bowl, mash the over ripe, brown bananas with a fork. Add the melted butter, sea salt, oil and stir until combined. Whisk in the agave, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth. Adding the sea salt to the wet mixture will help it dissolve.
Fold the dry ingredients with a spatula, into the wet ingredients. Be careful to not over mix. Fold in 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips, and pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips over the top of the bread mixture. On the middle oven rack, bake for 50-65 minutes, or until a toothpick or thin skewer, inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. You might see some melted chocolate chips on the skewer, but make sure the batter is not sticking. This dark chocolate banana bread loaf was done at 50 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and set on a wire cooling rack.
Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the bread and carefully remove it from the loaf pan. Let the bread cool on the wire rack another 5 to 10 minutes.
It should be baked all the way through, but still very moist. My version of this recipe is mostly dark chocolate in flavor, with the bananas keeping it very moist and the walnuts adding a nice crunch.
Here’s an article I first posted earlier this week on LinkedIn: Quick and Easy Family Dinners. I cover some basic ideas for dinner. Especially for those who get home from work and are greeted by a hungry family.
In a hurry? Feeling lazy or just uninspired? Let me help you create a repertoire of quick and easy family dinners. Meals that you can make without too much planning, with ingredients you have on hand in the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry. Or those you can easily find at your local market.
These should be meals you know your family likes, that you can create without looking at a recipe. Quick and easy dinners that you can make without a lot of preparation. No need to get out the food processor or blender. Here are my suggestions for dinners that include meat, chicken, fish, or just a big salad.
Beef steak is an easy choice for dinner. Typical cuts of beef for steak include tenderloin, strip, T-bone, and rib-eye. If you have a large family, or are on a budget, chuck or flat iron steaks may work better for you. Your choice of steak can be sauteed in a pan or broiled. To make the meal complete add peas or corn. I prefer the frozen varieties. I usually like to include another side dish too. Try boiling small potatoes. They cook quickly and shouldn’t take more that 10 to 15 minutes to boil. Frozen veggies and a starch, like instant rice, can be added as side dishes to any of these meals.
Chicken is a staple in my repertoire. I usually choose chicken that has already been cut into pieces, like breasts, legs, or thighs. Chicken can be broiled or sauteed, and if the weather is good, cooked on a grill. For quick added flavor, I keep a dry rub from the grocery market in my cupboard that I can sprinkle on chicken or fish. An easy side dish is green beans. Most grocery markets now carry them pre-washed and packaged in the produce department, ready to steam or microwave.
My favorite fish as a main dish is grilled salmon. It can be prepared quickly in a grill pan on your stove top or on a gas grill. I choose salmon fillet and ask my grocery’s butcher to slice it for me. For quick side dishes, I like corn and couscous. But if that’s too much starch for you, try a pre-washed salad or Cole slaw kit. Doles’ Sesame Asian salad kit is one of my favorites.
The great thing about having a big salad for dinner is you can use any leftovers from the previous meals above to top them. Just toss your salad greens with your favorite dressing, plate, and top with sliced steak, chicken, or fish. If you are a vegetarian, try grilling tofuand adding it to top your big dinner salad.
I shop for food about once a week to make sure I have the ingredients I need to make several quick dinners for my family. Once you have confidence in 4 or 5 quick and easy meals for your family dinner repertoire, start adding a few more. Pork or lamb chops? Why not? Pasta? Sure! I make pasta at least once a week. I promise that as you practice your repertoire, it will become easier and easier to quickly whip up a delicious dinner.
I love this moment from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, where Yiayia, sitting under a table at her great granddaughter’s high school’s college fair event, emerges from the tablecloth to cry, “Spanakopita!” 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Greek spinach pie, spanakopita with feta cheese, is also called “Spanakotiropita.” I made this version for Easter dinner yesterday. It was a big hit with my family.
Here’s the recipe for my spanakopita with feta cheese, adapted from my Mothers’ Hellenic Cuisine 1956 cookbook by Saints Constantine and Helen Ladies Society.