Growing up, there were few things more exciting than seeing a bunch of overripe bananas on the counter at Mom’s house—that meant that banana bread was in the near future. Back in those days, we used a box mix for our banana bread, but now I rarely make the same flavor of banana bread twice. I’m always coming up with a unique take on it and experimenting with different flavors…but this chocolate and hazelnut version is a new favorite that broke my habit of experimentation. The bread is laced with homemade chocolate hazelnut butter and lots of ripe bananas to keep it soft and flavorful, then topped with chocolate and hazelnuts for texture—it makes the perfect breakfast or dessert.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an eight-and-a-half × four-and-a-half-inch loaf pan with Gefen Parchment Paper and grease lightly with coconut oil. (You can also use a nine- by five-inch loaf pan; the finished loaf of banana bread will be a little thinner.)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed bananas, coconut sugar, almond milk, chocolate hazelnut butter (recipe follows), coconut oil, and ground flax seed. Whisk well to combine. The batter should be smooth with only a few small chunks of banana.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the hazelnut flour, oat flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until well mixed. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Top with hazelnuts or chocolate chips, or both, if using.
Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, until a toothpick or knife inserted near the middle of the loaf comes out clean. If you’re using a nine by five-inch pan, check on the bread after 40 to 45 minutes.
Let the bread cool completely in the pan before removing and slicing. Store the bread, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or foil or in a sealed container on the counter, for up to three days. Refrigerate for up to one week or freeze for up to six months. I like to freeze slices that I can heat in the microwave whenever I want a slice of this bread!
You can make hazelnut flour yourself by grinding hazelnuts in a blender until finely ground and floury. Bob’s Red Mill also makes it ready to purchase.
Put the roasted hazelnuts in a high-powered blender (I use a Vitamix) or bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process at medium-high speed for five to eight minutes, scraping down the sides of the container as necessary until smooth and fluid. Your processing time might be shorter if you’re using a high-powered blender, and could take a little longer and require more scraping in the food processor.
Once the hazelnuts have broken down completely and formed a smooth, fluid nut butter, add three tablespoons of the coconut sugar, the cacao powder, and salt.
Process again for another 30 seconds to break down the coconut sugar and make sure everything is well incorporated. Taste and add the extra sugar, if desired. You can also add more salt, to taste.
Transfer the nut butter to a 12-ounce glass jar with a tightfitting lid. Store in the pantry for up to one week or in the fridge for about one month. Yield: one and 1/2 cups.
If you only have raw hazelnuts, spread them on a baking sheet and roast at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown around the edges and aromatic, about 10 minutes. Stir the nuts a few times during roasting. Slide the nuts onto a plate to cool completely; make sure they’re cool before using!
Excerpted from BAKERITA ©️ 2020 by Rachel Conners. Photography ©️ 2020 by Rachel Conners. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.