Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread

I heart bananas. But this love is very conditional. My naners have to be firm, blemish-free and quite green. So what to do with very yellow bananas, sitting on the counter getting mushy and starting to brown? Throw them out without a second thought? 

Normally, yes, without even a hint of remorse. But then I'd miss out on something amazing. Moist banana bread heavily laced with semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts. Unbelievably delicious and perfect for a November day. 

{Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread}
adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook


1 1/4 cup sugar 
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened 
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 teaspoon 
vinegar added to 1/2 cup milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and move oven rack into low position. Grease bottom only of a loaf pan, 9 by 5 by 3. Mix sugar and butter, stir in eggs, bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt until just moistened. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. I covered my loaf with tin foil to avoid excessive browning. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Then remove from pan and let cool at least 2 hours before slicing.

This quick bread is moist, hefty, nutty and oozing with chocolate. Suggestions: slice it, butter it, cover it in jam. Dip it in hot chocolate, spread it with peanut butter, turn in into French toast. Or eat in in hunks, straight out of the oven. The possibilities are endless.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pumpkin Dip

What to do with leftover pumpkin? Well, in my kitchen, there is no such thing. Being completely obsessed with everything pumpkin, from beers to butters to bagels and beyond, every little speck of pumpkin usually gets used up.

Which means it's time to go out and get another can. 

What I love about pumpkin is that is melds so well with my favorite spices. All those ones that make you feel warm and fuzzy and festive and cuddley: nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, etc. So here's one way to coat anything and everything in all that spicy pumpkin goodness. 

{Pumpkin Dip}
6-8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

Beat together and transfer to a pretty bowl. Chill before serving with gingersnaps, animal crackers, pretzels or whatever suits your fancy. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Friday, November 18, 2011


Chocolate and peanut butter. Does it get any better? Yes, it does, when it is bite sized and served on a stick. 

My friends and I are having a little party this weekend to watch the OSU game, complete with these beautiful Buckeyes (appropriate, go Buckeyes!), snacks, plenty of cheese, spiked cider, cucumber vodka and craft beers.

 Makes about 40

For the peanut butter base:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 stick butter, softened
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
 1 pound powdered sugar 

For the chocolate coating: 
5-6 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 tsp shaved paraffin

Cover a baking sheet with wax paper. Mix peanut butter, butter, cream and vanilla together. Stir in powdered sugar until smooth.  Roll peanut butter mixture into small balls (about 3/4 inch) and place on prepared baking sheet. Stick with toothpicks and chill for at least an hour.

After chilling, melt the chocolate with the paraffin using either a double boiler or a microwave, stirring occasionally. Dip each buckeye into the chocolate, leaving some peanut butter uncovered at the top. Let cool and return to refrigerator.

I'm sure everyone has had these out of the wrapper, but that's the store bought kind. The fake-tasting-what's-that-weird-aftertaste kind. The too-perfect, too-sweet, no-stick, no-fun kind. Make these. Try these. Love these. These classic holiday treats are always a hit! And just a tip, these buckeyes only up the ante on the Buckeye State Ice Cream. Do it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Molasses Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches

What do you know, more pumpkin. But hey, it's in season, so why not?

Especially when one of my favorite flavors, pumpkin, meets up with my true love, ice cream. Together, they're unstoppable. Add in molasses cookies and the combination is to die for.

{Molasses Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches}

Follow this recipe for the molasses cookies.
{Pumpkin Ice Cream }
 Roughly adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream's Roasted Pumpkin 5-Spice Ice Cream

1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon corn starch
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the cream cheese, salt, honey and pumpkin until smooth. In a large 4-quart saucepan, combine the milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and spices over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the corn starch mixture. Return to a boil and cook for another 1 minute. Then, whisk the hot mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Chill. Then freeze according to ice cream maker's instructions. 

Eat like this, or make into sandwiches following these steps...

After the ice cream begins to pull away from the sides, pour it into a shallow baking dish in a 1/2 inch layer. Freeze for a few hours. Later, use a cookie cutter (the size of your molasses cookies) and cut the desired number of ice cream sandwiches. Sandwich these between two cookies and voila, beautiful ice cream sandwiches!

Store the rest of the pumpkin ice cream in an airtight container. Cover ice cream with parchment or wax paper to avoid freezer burn. Enjoy later with pecans and caramel, or my personal favorite, drizzled with hot fudge.