Chocolate Banana Bread That Tastes Better Than Cake

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.)

  1. Emily says...

    Oh my goodness, this was so good! I made it yesterday when my kids had a snow day, and we were all snuggled up inside. It is definitely the most delicious recipe I’ve ever made with overripe bananas. And yes, I am having a slice today at work with coffee. Not exactly breakfast, but a very good mid-morning snack! For those who thought there was too much sugar, the half cup of Demerara was for coating the (buttered/sprayed) dish and sprinkling on top. I cut it to just a couple spoonfuls on top, and it was still amazing. I also used all purpose gluten free flour, with great results. Yum!

  2. Tanya says...

    Made this for a play date today and it was delicious! Used sour cream and 4 bananas, with just a thin slice cut lengthwise for the top. Will definitely make again!

  3. Rita says...

    Looks delicious! What are 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) of butter in grams? Thank you!

  4. I have a soft spot for banana bread and this looks amazing! Thanks for sharing <3

  5. I really love banana bread, but sometimes the cake grows beautifully and then it goes down! I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong, but it never looks like the recipes that I do! Still, it’s delicious! :)

  6. Julia says...

    I‘m a reader from Germany and I always wish the recepies would include European measurements (gramm, tablespoon, spoon etc). As probably most of your readers are American maybe that doesen‘t make sense for you, but perhaps it‘s something that could easily be done. Just a thought!
    Thank you for this blog!

    • Rita says...

      Same here :)

  7. Katherine says...

    I literally just used 5 bananas for two loafs of plain banana bread… although this one is probably best for a special occasion! Being saved, stat. ?

  8. Julie says...

    the sliced bananas on top look like….yep you guessed it! penises! :) would make a lovely honeymoon snack.

    • Joanna Goddard says...


  9. jeannie says...

    This sounds amazing. I always make the banana bread recipe from “Joy of Cooking,” which I love, but can’t wait to try this! Thanks for sharing!

  10. This sounds wonderful… and it doesn’t seem like it would too sweet, with just cocoa powder for the chocolate component. YUMOLA.

  11. Greta says...

    I had 4 brown bananas and sour cream so I made this with the alterations. It’s fantastic! It’s much lower in sugar than my normal recipe, with half a cup of sugar actually in a loaf cut in eight generous slices that’s 14 grams/slice. And worth every one:) Thanks so much for the recipe!

    • Greta says...

      Sorry should have clarified I left out the Demerara!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i have to admit, i LOVE sour cream. i sneak a little on everything :) so i’d love to try the recipe with that addition!

  12. I really appreciate that you posted this blogpost around this time. I make banana bread every holiday season and I like to differentiate. This is going to be perfect recipe for 2017 :)

    Simple ‘N’ Chic

  13. Kristen says...

    There are so many amazing recipes featured on this site. I need to dust off my pots and pans….

  14. Jane says...

    This sounds yummy … but I’m afraid of all the sugar. Bananas by themselves have a ton already. I make Joy the Baker’s Banana Bread with Mango Chunks recipe and leave out the sugar entirely. It still tastes great.

    • Amy says...

      Thanks Jane! I’m googling that now!

  15. Amy says...

    This looks divine. But…there are over 34 grams of sugar in each slice, assuming 8 slices in a loaf ???
    I wonder what it would taste like with half the sugar? There are five bananas so seems like the extra sugar may be unnecessary….I might get have to try that!

    • K says...

      Try it and tell me! Agree it’s way too much sugar! But sounds delish

  16. Sarah says...

    I am 100% on board with this. Banana bread is one of my favorite things to make, but I’ve never tried mascarpone in it. Excited to give it a whirl!

  17. Arielle says...

    I just happened to have 5 ripe bananas and my husband made marscapone from scratch the other night. It baking in the oven right now. What perfect timing!

  18. Kaitlin says...

    Four bananas is totally enough to call this breakfast! Especially when you consider that the only chocolate is the cocoa powder.