1500-400 B.C. The Olmecs of Central America are the first to domesticate the cacao plant. They initially notice that squirrels keep eating the oval seeds, so they cook and eat the squirrels. But soon they realize their mistake and develop a technique for turning the plant into a drink. Humanity’s obsession with chocolate begins.
Chocolate Banana Bread Serves: 12-16 Preparation time: 10-15 minutes Baking time: 60-70 minutes Rating: Easy
Once when I was young, I tried to get my grandmother to buy Chocolate Chip Cookie Cereal. When she asked if my mother would approve, I said, “Of course,” pointing out that it had two essential vitamins and one pretty important mineral. I finished the whole box before my mom came back. Now that I’m older and I can buy whatever cereal I want, I usually choose to skip breakfast. But Chocolate Banana Bread is a great way to lure me to the table. Besides, bananas are good for you, right?
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature, + more for greasing 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour + 1 teaspoon for dusting pan 1 cup sugar 2 ripe bananas 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 cup milk 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup chopped walnuts 1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips (see Mom Tip)
Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly rub the bottom and sides of a 9-x-5-inch bread pan with butter. Add the 1 teaspoon flour and swirl it around, coating the buttered surfaces. To make it easier to remove the bread, cut a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Place it in the pan and wipe it with butter. Set aside.
Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon until creamy. Mash the bananas, add to the bowl and mix until well combined. Add the eggs, vanilla and milk, and mix again. Add the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and mix until well blended. Add the nuts and chocolate chips and mix thoroughly. The mixture will be thick and lumpy.
Pour the batter into the pan, and spread evenly. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the bread pulls away from the sides and a cake tester or knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and cool for 10 minutes. Loosen the bread by sliding a knife around the sides of the pan. Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice thinly and serve. Store in the refrigerator, wrapped in foil or plastic wrap.
Mom Tip Regular chocolate chips can also be used.
Triple Chocolate Brownies
1789 The English company J. S. Fry and Sons brings chocolate into the Industrial Revolution. Using the newly invented steam engine to grind cacao beans greatly increases production and reduces costs. As a result, English six-year-olds are now able to afford an occasional cup of hot chocolate on their way home from their eighteen-hour shifts at the sweatshop.
Triple Chocolate Brownies Makes: 25 (15-inch) squares Preparation time: 15 minutes Baking time: 20-25 minutes Rating: Very Easy
When I order a dessert, I look for the one that has the most chocolate in the title. I feel cheated when I have to settle for just “Chocolate.” Triple Chocolate Brownies are right up my alley. With them, you definitely feel that you’re getting your money’s worth.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter + more for greasing 4 squares (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 cup sugar 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup (6-ounce package) milk chocolate chips (see Mom Tip 1) 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, making sure two ends of the foil overhang the pan by about 2 inches so you can easily lift the brownies out of the pan later. Lightly rub the bottom and sides of the foil with butter. Set aside.
Combine the chocolate, water and butter in a medium, heavy pot over low heat, stirring occasionally. When the chocolate is just melted, turn off the heat and add the cocoa. Stir until combined and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla, and stir until well blended. Add the flour, baking soda and salt, and stir until no flour shows. Stir in the chocolate chips and the walnuts, if using.
Scrape the batter into the pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top feels firm and the brownies pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove frrom the oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Carefully lift the ends of the foil and remove the brownies from the pan (see Mom Tip 2). Cut into 25 squares and serve. Store in an airtight containnnnner or wrapped in foil or plastic wrap.
Mom Tip 1 White or semisweet chocolate chips also work well in these brownies.
Mom Tip 2 If you want a fourth level of chocolate, ice these brownies with Chocolate Buttercream Icing (page 68), Couldn’t-Be-Simpler Chocolate Icing (page 65) or Quick Fudge Icing (page 71).
Copyright © 2000 by Kevin Mills and Nancy Mills