Honeyed Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

ChocolateChip Banana Bread

I’m fascinated by the life of honey bees and the hardworking, selfless social community they create. Honey bees sometimes get a bad reputation because they get lumped together with all bees, including the nasty and aggressive wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets. However, honey bees are NOT aggressive and will only sting out of an instinct to protect the hive or themselves (like when you step on one). Sadly, if a honey bee does use its stinger, the honey bee dies. However, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets can sting repeatedly because they don’t have barbs on their stingers! OUCH! We need honeybees. One-third of our food is pollinated by honeybees. Imagine a world without honeybees. It’s not so unbelievable given the trajectory of Monsanto and it’s control of the food supply.

Whole Foods Market photo
Whole Foods Market photo

Bees are an excellent indicator of environmental health. The build up of toxins in the environment affect our entire ecosystem and more importantly, us. There’s plenty of research on what pesticides do to people. Do a google search on pesticide build-up in humans and you’ll find liver failure, infertility, brain disorders, and endocrine disruption to name a few. What affects one organism affects another. Spray pesticides and you kill off another being’s food supply. Bats eat mosquitoes. Dragonflies eat mosquitoes. Spray for mosquitoes in your town and you have other dead or sick beneficial animals: honey bees, bats, fish, crickets, fireflies, dragonflies, and other various small insects. By now you should have heard of Colony Collapse Disorder. CCD occurs in areas where there is heavy pesticide use (think factory farms). Nearly all research points to the bee die off being as a catastrophic consequence of pesticide use.  Bill Moyers article is HERE. No honeybees?  No pollination.  No pollination?  No almonds. Few fruits. Few veggies.

My family is obsessed with honey. We take scoops and eat it right from the spoon. We put it in our tea. I use it as a sweetener in salad dressings, drizzle it on grilled fish, and mix in my barbecue sauce.  My husband uses our honey in his granola recipe, and we both love a large helping of honey swirled on a bowl of Greek yogurt. If you need another reason to love honey: a spoonful of honey DOES help the medicine go down…and may keep the doctor away, too!  Read more about honey’s health properties HERE. If you’ve ever done taste-testing with honey, you know that each honey tastes a little different depending on the honey’s terroir. Terroir is what makes the honey take on the characteristics, and flavor, of the environment the honey bees traveled. Terroir is often used to describe wine, but it works for honey, too.  Our Queen Bee Works honey is truly the best honey we’ve ever had – and we’ve had a lot. Our honey is classified as “wildflower” honey because the bees took nectar and pollen from all around the area, not just one variety of flower.

This honey banana bread recipe has been in my recipe notebook for more years than I care to admit. I probably inherited it from my mum. She used to make banana bread (a lot) when I was growing up. She probably made so much banana bread because I wouldn’t eat a banana that had even the hint of a brown spot on it and she didn’t want to waste them. Even now, I will only eat a barely ripe banana! This recipe has evolved a bit over the years, and my most recent addition has been dark chocolate chunks. Bananas and chocolate go together like peas and carrots. Have you ever had a banana dipped in melted chocolate and then rolled in toasted, chopped walnuts? Divine. This banana bread is better.

Walnuts and Chocolate

Honey Walnut Chocolate-Chip Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 2¼C unbleached cake flour or Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free Flour
  • ¾C walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1C dark chocolate chunks (Valhrona)
  • 3 large, ripe bananas
  • 6oz. container of plain, full fat Greek yogurt
  • ¾C honey
  • 6T unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2t honey liqueur (Barenjager) or 2t vanilla extract
  • ¾t baking soda
  • ½t salt

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with a fork or a potato masher, but be careful not to make them too soupy – keep some lumps in there. Add the yogurt, honey, melted butter, vanilla, and eggs to the bananas and stir gently to combine. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined. If you over-mix you risk creating gluten in the flour, and that makes for a tough (not light and airy) bread.

Pour the batter into a buttered and floured loaf pan. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.  Test for doneness around 35-40 minutes with a toothpick or cake tester. To test a cake or bread for doneness, insert the toothpick into the center of the bread. If it comes out clean, without batter stuck to it, it’s done. If not, check in another 5 minutes.

A little note on using honey: I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen with honey.  What I’m reading (and learning first-hand) about cooking with honey is that the moisture in some baked good recipes needs to be inversely adjusted, simply because you are adding moisture with the honey.  When you substitute honey for sugar, you are essentially adding a little liquid as well as sweetener.  If you want to substitute honey for sugar, start off substituting half of the sugar for honey.

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