Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Banana Bread

Growing up, after-school snacks were a big deal in my house. Seriously. They were a big. deal.

Banana bread 1

My brothers and I would get home and be greeted with fruit, tea and either cookies, zucchini bread or banana bread to tide us over until dinner. It wasn’t unusual for us to bring friends home either because everyone knew we had the best homemade treats. No wonder I still love tea time!

Banana Bread 2

I’ve been pretty sick all week so I knew that whatever I made I wouldn’t be able to share. After my friends and coworkers listened to me sniffle and cough all week, there was no way anyone was going to accept something I admitted to making myself. Since I had a few browning bananas that I forgot when I went out of town this weekend, banana bread was the perfect choice. And yes, I love banana bread enough to eat an entire loaf over the next few days. Doesn’t everyone?

Banana Bread 3

A few years ago, I posted a recipe for banana bread on the blog. Much like I’m not the same person as I was back in September 2015, this recipe has evolved over the years as well. That’s what I love about baking, nothing is ever quite final. If I were trying to draw parallels between baking and life, I might say that I’m never quite done growing as a person or nothing in my life is ever final. I might also say that constant change is good and makes the recipe, or me, stronger in the long run.

Banana Bread 4

Did you follow along on my Instagram story this past week to see where Colin and I are moving? I’ll give you a hint, they have delicious ice cream shops but most of the year it’s too cold for normal people (i.e. not me) to eat frozen treats. Also, people in the town wear more school gear than any other place I’ve ever been to. Still guessing? You’ll just have to wait until I get up there this summer to see where I’m going.

Banana Bread 6

I love this banana bread because the outside gets nice and crunchy but the inside stays super moist. The hazelnuts are optional but the chocolate definitely isn’t. Just kidding, the chocolate is optional too (but highly recommended). I also like to enjoy it with a scoop of hazelnut ice cream (recipe coming soon) on top to tie all the flavors together.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup (215g) flour
  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts

Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bread pan and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, mix together the bananas and the egg, followed by the vanilla, the sour cream and the butter. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Once done, stir in the chocolate chips and hazelnuts.
  • Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan before running a knife around the edges to loosen it and flipping the pan to get the bread out.

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If The 7 People You Follow on Instagram Were Desserts

If you're like me, you tend to follow a lot of different types of people on Instagram. Between my friends, family and bloggers, my feed keeps me entertained for hours (when I let it).

Someone recently asked me what my absolute favorite dessert was. I didn't have an answer for them but I immediately starting wondering: if I was a dessert, which one would I be? I'm not sure how I got there but once the idea was in my head, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Rather than boring all of you with an essay on why I'm creme brûlée, I thought I'd examine some of the characters many of us see on Instagram every day and figure out which dessert they would be.

I pulled some photos to help illustrate these different characters. This doesn't mean that I think these accounts are exactly the stereotype I’m using their photo to illustrate, nor that that would be a bad thing. They just happen to be pretty photos from accounts I love to follow.

Okay, now that all of that is out of the way, let's jump right into the 7 types of people in your Instagram feed and their respective dessert!

The Basic Babe

Dessert: Macaron

Lauren is an donut expert but occasionally she branches out and eats other things, like macarons! 

Lauren is an donut expert but occasionally she branches out and eats other things, like macarons! 

We all have a little bit of this in each of us but there are some people who are 100% basic. Their Instagram feed is entirely sunsets, latte art and puppies. Their content is eye-catching (if maybe a little generic) so their dessert pairing is macarons! Beautiful and trendy, the macarons thrive on Instagram. I’m guilty of not being able to scroll past a picture of a macaron without liking it. Also pictures of puppies.

Permanently on Vacation

Dessert: key lime pie

My amazing friend Milja from high school is living that beach life with her beautiful family over at @minimauritus

My amazing friend Milja from high school is living that beach life with her beautiful family over at @minimauritus

We all have at least one friend like this. Whether they live near the beach or just jet off to some exotic locale every other week, they seem to be permanently on vacation. Stalking their feed inspires you to think about booking your next trip but your mojito won't get half as many likes as theirs. Much like this friend, key lime pie immediately makes you think of vacation, sunshine or at the very least Florida. It's light, airy, and the citrus treat is best enjoyed in warm weather near the water.

Coupled Up

Dessert: Ice cream sandwich

Remember Whitney from Chris' season of The Bachelor? She and I have the same wedding photog (👋 Carly!) 

Remember Whitney from Chris' season of The Bachelor? She and I have the same wedding photog (👋 Carly!) 

At this point I never know which half of the couple posted the picture because both of their feeds are primarily photos of them together. They go on so many fun dates, it makes me want to up my game, or at the very least convince Colin to take more pictures when we go out. Like the ice cream sandwich, both elements of the pair work on their own, but they work so well together we might as well just accept their unison and always enjoy them together.

Young and Popular

Dessert: Over the top milkshake

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Instagram wasn't around when I was in college so nothing makes me feel quite as old as seeing one of my younger acquaintances getting hundreds and hundreds of likes on a photo. They are so effortlessly popular, which is largely a product of their generation engaging far more on Instagram than previous ones. Much like these young trendsetters, over-the-top milkshakes are ‘like’ machines on Instagram. I dare you to post a photo of one and see it take off.

Workout Junky

Dessert: Protein smoothie

Margret of Style The Girl is mom goals x 10000. 

Margret of Style The Girl is mom goals x 10000. 

We get it, you work out. Whether you follow Cross Fit junkies or lulu-wearing yogis, you know the type. As someone who never looks photo-ready before or after working out, I’ve never fully understood the mirror selfie in workout clothes. If you can pull it off though, more power to you. Since this group is all about the healthy options, their dessert pairing is a protein smoothie! Perfect for loading up post workout. Or instead of working out. Either way.

Style Savant

Dessert: Puff pastry

Most of the friends I've made through blogging in DC have been fashion and lifestyle bloggers so my Instagram feed is filled with style savants. They are poised, intentional with their feed cohesiveness and aspirational for those of us who still consider oversized flannel over leggings appropriate work apparel. Puff Pastry is stylish, impressive and many consider it to be fancy, even if most puff pastry recipes are fairly easy to recreate.

Foodie Photogs

Dessert: Cream puffs

Before I visit a new city, I always check to see if Brooke and the other Female Foodies have done a roundup to best spots to eat at. 

Before I visit a new city, I always check to see if Brooke and the other Female Foodies have done a roundup to best spots to eat at. 

As someone who posts primarily food on my Instagram, I've discovered there is a divide between people who post food from restaurants and people who post food they make. I admire people who lug their cameras to restaurants and have the patience to photograph their food before digging in. Cream puffs are beautiful but they take attention and patience to make. The result is beautiful and delicious and so worth it though.

If you made it to the end of this post and are hungry, I’m sorry. But in a more real sense I’m not. What dessert would you be?

 

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

One of my favorite mid-afternoon snacks near my office is the gooey, dense and decadent brownie from Rare Sweets. On the weekends though, I’m too far away so I’ve realized that I needed to find something to cure my chocolate cravings.

In addition to impulse buying two big packs of Ferrero Rocher at CVS (Friday night got a little wild), I celebrated my fiance’s birthday this weekend. He’s perhaps even bigger of a chocoholic than I am, so if there ever was a time to recipe test a new gooey chocolate cake, it was Saturday!

Birthdays are a big deal in my family. Like, really big. In fact, it’s really more of a birthweek than a birthday. Growing up I thought everyone celebrated as much as we did. Then I got to college and started hand making giant birthday cards for everyone in my dorm. That lasted about two months before I realized that most people really didn’t care either way and the time being put into each card was just not being appreciated. Much like my dorm mates, Colin’s never wants breakfast in bed, big parties or extravagant gifts. Luckily cake is on always on his radar so I can at least feel like we’ve celebrated him in some way.

This cake is definitely a celebration. Each bite is so dense and chocolaty that I feel kind of guilty for eating it. Not enough to stop, just enough to remember to sign up for another Soul Cycle class between bites.

When making this cake, I left the parchment paper with lots of crinkles and folds to create the uneven edge look seen here. If you want a more clean cut and traditionally round cake, skip the parchment paper.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 16 ounces semi-chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • ¼ cup icing sugar
  • 1 cup chopped Ferrero Rocher
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnut half and half
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 6 full Ferrero Rocher

Recipe

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.  
  • Combine the butter and the chocolate chips in a double boiler until melted. Set aside to let cool. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the icing sugar in and return the mixer to medium high until stiff peaks form.
  • Mix the egg yolks into the melted chocolate and butter. Fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter in three batches until fully combined. Pour into prepared pan. Top with the chopped Ferrero Rocher.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the edges are pulling away from edges and the center is just set. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours to set.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine heavy cream, half and half and granulated sugar. Whisk until stiff peaks form. Pipe onto cake and top with full Ferrero Rocher. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Adapted from an Epicurious recipe for Dark Chocolate Pretzel Cake

 

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Caramel Pretzel Bark

Salty pretzels combined with sweet chocolate and crunchy caramel? Pretty perfect.

Caramel Pretzel Bark-3.jpg

I had a moment this weekend where I couldn't find a recipe on my site. I was telling my mom about an amazing caramel bark she should try and then no joke I couldn't find it. If I can't find something on my site, I can't even imagine how the rest of the world is supposed to. I've been talking about fixing my recipe taxonomy for months and I'm realizing I need to stop putting it off.

It turns out I had saved the recipe under ‘toffee’ but was searching for ‘bark’. Wondering what the heck the difference between the two is? I gotchu. Toffee is a caramel that has been heated up to at least 300 degrees so that it becomes nice and crunchy. Bark is a sheet of chocolate, often covered with extras like nuts. So basically this is both? I feel like there should be a third name that encompasses both. Don’t worry, I’ll let y’all know when I find one.

I’ve been on a pretzel kick lately so the giant bag of mini pretzels that I bought last week didn’t last very long. I’m not sure why but I’m pretty horrible at anticipating how long things will last me. I have no self control so it’s probably time that I be honest about that with myself and be realistic when buying junk food.

I’ve got a short work week ahead of me but luckily this bark is airplane-friendly so if any of it makes it to Thursday, I’m packing it with me. With my self control though, the chances of that are slim so I may need to whip up a second batch. As if I really needed an excuse.

Unlike some other bark recipes I’ve made, this one is much more ‘rustic’ in nature. The pretzels aren’t easy to lay flat once in the caramel but that’s okay! It adds a little character so don’t worry about making it perfect. As long as you get a layer of chocolate on top, it will be delicious.

Where do you stand - team bark or team toffee?

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups mini pretzels
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Recipe

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick mat and set aside.
  • In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, butter and maple syrup and cook over medium heat. Once the butter has completely melted, continue to heat until mixture comes to a boil. Let boil for about two minutes before removing from heat and mixing in salt.
  • Add pretzels to saucepan to completely coat them with the caramel before transferring everything to the baking sheet. Lay the pretzels as flat as possible in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Cover pretzels evenly with the white chocolate chips and let sit undisturbed for about 2 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to spread the now melted chocolate chips over the pretzels. Repeat with the semi sweet chocolate to fill in the gaps.
  • Transfer baking sheet to the fridge for at least an hour or until completely solid. Use a knife (or your hands for a more rustic look) to break apart the bark. Refrigerate in a sealed container until ready to enjoy.

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