My Chocolate Almond Banana Bread is really delicious. Moist, chocolatey banana bread, dotted with swirls of almond frangipane, topped with creamy almond frosting and sprinkled with handfuls of crunchy candied almonds and pecans. Have i mentioned i love banana bread befor….. 🙂
I don’t think I need to say any more. Post complete. 🙂
Ok, I can’t just stop there, but it was so good that I lost all words as I looked at the picture and thought about how good this Chocolate Almond Banana Bread tasted before every last crumb was consumed.
I had spotty bananas to use up, and I’d already made several batches of banana oat cookies in the last couple of weeks. I was considering making my chocolate oat banana bread, but then I remembered I had some frangipane in the fridge leftover from almond pastries I’d been making the day before. From that, banana almond heaven was created.
My plan was to take this cake with us on our visit to Chatsworth house and gardens in Bakewell the next day. Surely a whole cake loaf can last for a day, so we can enjoy it overlooking the gardens with a nice flask of coffee?
Erm, the answer would be no. Not unless the four of us could share the one single slice that was left for our day out.
Fortunately it meant we got to enjoy the tearoom, and we also walked a fair distance around the grounds to (hopefully) work off the previous day’s excesses. If you’re ever in the Derbyshire area of the UK, I thoroughly recommended a visit. It’s gorgeous! Lewis particularly enjoyed pretending to be a bat whilst climbing up every rock he could find, and flapping through the spooky tunnels (it was Halloween – he doesn’t always dress like that!!)
I used my go-to chocolate oat banana bread as the basis for this Chocolate Almond Banana Bread recipe. A couple of tweaks to make it more chocolatey, plus the removal of the oats were all that were needed.
If you don’t want the extra step of making frangipane, then you can just leave the frangipane out. It’ll still taste amazing – you just won’t get the little white almondy swirls inside the bread.
Alternatively, go ahead an make a bigger batch of frangipane. You can freeze whatever you don’t use – and keep it for filling croissants or adding to apple tart later on.
The frosting is really simple. I like to go heavy on the almond extract because I love that sweet almond flavour, but you can reduce the amount if you find it a little overpowering.
The only slightly tricky bit is making the caramel for the candied nuts. I use golden caster sugar to make the caramel – nothing else. This needs to go in a pan, and be heated on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved the mixture has a couple of bubbles rising to the surface. A really important tip here: DON’T STIR the sugar whilst it’s melting. If you do, you’re likely to end up with a crystalized mess due to the hot melting sugar touching the cooler side of the pan or spoon.
Melted sugar will continue to cook even when the heat is turned off, so you have to be careful not to overcook it. I found the best method was is to use a small, heavy bottomed pan. Pour the sugar in and ensure it’s in an even layer, then heat slowly. The sugar will slowly start to melt at the edges first.
I find that the towards the end (about 4 or 5 minutes of heating), the caramel on the outside is molten and golden brown with a couple of bubbles starting to appear. There may still be a tiny bit of unmelted sugar in the middle, but I turn off the heat anyway, and leave the pan for about 30 seconds to allow the remaining bit of sugar to melt.
At that point you can add your nuts and stir. You need to work very quickly here, as the caramel will go hard very quickly once it’s mixed with the nuts. Have a piece of baking parchment on a tray ready. Mix the nuts into the molten sugar with a wooden spoon, tip it out onto the baking parchement and then flatten the mixture out very quickly using the wooden spoon. Don’t use your hands, as the sugar (although cooling fast) may still be boiling hot.
The nutty caramel mixture will cool and harden quickly – about 5 – 10 minutes. Then you can break it up. It’s better to break it with your hands if you can. If you bash it with something hard you may lose the golden shiny colour in favour of a white crumbly coating.
Then soak your pan in cold water for a little while before washing. The sugar will dissolve and should be easily cleaned.
The Chocolate Almond Banana Bread Recipe:
Chocolate Almond Banana Bread
- 60 g 2oz unsalted butter softened
- 50 g 1.75oz golden caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 35 g 4tbsp plain flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 60 g 2oz ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
Chocolate Banana Loaf:
- 1 large egg
- 75 ml 2.5fl oz vegetable oil
- 125 g 4.5oz golden caster sugar
- 3 very ripe bananas peeled and roughly chopped
- 150 g 5.3oz plain flour
- 25 g 0.9oz cocoa powder sieved
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 50 g 1.75oz chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 180c. Line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
- First make your frangipane. Beat the butter and sugar together for a few minutes until light and creamy (you can do this in a mixer or by hand). Add the egg and beat again for a minute. Add the flour, baking powder, ground almonds and almond extract and mix for 2 more minutes. Cover and place in the fridge whilst you make the chocolate banana cake.
- In a mixer, whisk the egg, oil and sugar until combined, then add in the bananas. Whisk again until the banana breaks down and you’ve got a slightly lumpy liquid.
- Add in the flour, sieved cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Gently stir into the banana mixture using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until combined. Then add in the chocolate chips and gently and stir again.
- Pour a third of the chocolate mixture into into the loaf tin, then dot half of the frangipane in little lumps on top. Pour another third of chocolate mix on top, then add in the remaining frangine in little dots. Use a cocktail stick to give the frangipane a couple of little swirls into the chocolate mixture. Pour the remaining chocolate mixture on top. Place in the oven to cook for 40-50 minutes (check it’s done after 40 minutes by inserting a metal skewer in the cake, if it comes out clean, it’s cooked). You may need to cover the cake with a bit of foil if it needs to cook for more than 40 minutes.
- Take the cake out of the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before removing from the tin and allowing to cool completely on a cooling rack.
- Whilst the cake is cooling make the frosting and candied nuts.
- For the frosting, whisk together the confectioners sugar, 2tbsp cream, the vanilla extract and half the almond extract. You're looking for a spreadable consistency, so you need to ensure it's quite thick. Add a little more cream if required. Taste and then add the remaining almond extract if you want a stronger almond taste. Put to one side.
- Next make your candied nuts. Place a piece of baking parchment on a tray and put to one side. Add the sugar to a small, heavy bottomed pan, ensuring it's in an even layer and heat slowly. The sugar will slowly start to melt at the edges first. Continue to heat until the caramel on the outside is molten and golden brown with a couple of bubbles starting to appear. Do not stir! This should take about 4 - 5 minutes. Turn off the heat before the sugar goes too brown, as it will burn very quickly. There may still be a tiny bit of unmelted sugar in the middle. This is ok, just leave the pan for about 30 seconds to allow the remaining bit of sugar to melt.
- Working quickly, add your nuts and stir with a wooden spoon, tip it out onto the baking parchment and then flatten the mixture out very quickly using the wooden spoon. Don't touch the mixture as it will still be very hot. Allow the nutty caramel to cool and harden ( about 5 - 10 minutes), then break it up using your hands.
- Now you're ready to assemble. Use a palette knife to spread the frosting all over the top of the cake. Sprinkle the candied nuts on top and serve.
With the toppings, the cake will last for around a day and a half before the candied nuts will start to soften. Keep covered and sealed in a cool room (there is cream in the frosting, so you don't want to leave it to get warm). . Nutritional Information is per serving.
Nutritional info obtained from caloriecount.about.com per serving (serves 12)