Cakey Cocoa Banana Bread

Waking up to homemade banana bread always feels celebratory, don’t you think? So, to conclude our month of chocolate desserts, we’re thrilled to share this recipe for banana bread made with cocoa and mascarpone. Alison Roman, author of Dining In, shows us how to make it…

Cocoa Banana Bread
From Alison Roman’s Dining In

This version of banana bread is more cake than bread, and I wouldn’t be able to get away with saying “There’s banana in it, so it’s basically breakfast!” because no, this is not breakfast. This is a chocolatey, buttery, almost decadent thing and probably not appropriate for anyone to eat first thing in the morning. While mascarpone will give you the richest, moistest cake with the best flavor, sour cream or yogurt will get the job done; just make sure they are full-fat. Also, this bread will sink slightly from the weight of the banana on top — don’t worry, that’s okay. If that gives you anxiety, skip it.

Recipe: Cocoa Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf

You’ll need:

1/2 cup Demerara sugar (regular sugar will work, too)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
5 extremely ripe bananas, 4 coarsely mashed and 1 sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup mascarpone, full-fat sour cream or full-fat yogurt (4 oz)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with a nonstick spray. Sugar the inside of the pan with 1/4 cup of the Demerara sugar (or regular sugar if you don’t have Demerara), tapping out any excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together; set aside.

Using an electric mixer and a separate medium bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar and vanilla on high speed until the mixture is super light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg. Beat until well combined and the mixture returns to that previously light, fluffy state, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients and beat just to blend. Using a spatula, fold in the mashed bananas, followed by the mascarpone, mixing just to blend.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top. Place the banana halves, cut-side up, on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Demerara sugar and bake until the sides start to pull away and the cake is baked through in the center (it’s a very dense, moist cake, but it should still spring back slightly when pressed in the center), about 90 to 100 minutes.

Let cool completely before slicing.

This banana bread can be made five days ahead, wrapped tightly, and kept at room temperature.

Thank you so much, Alison! Your cookbook is wonderful.

P.S. More recipes, including five-ingredient chocolate peanut butter bars and Nutella swirled banana bread.

(Reprinted from Dining In. Copyright © 2017 by Alison Roman. Photographs copyright ©2017 by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC. Thanks to Stella Blackmon for helping with this series.)