Monday, March 01, 2010

Dessert staples: Banana bread and brownies

In part for the benefit of my goddaughter Mikel, who God help her never quite learned to cook while she was living with us as a teen, I'm going to begin putting on this blog some of my staple household family recipes. Lets start with sweets, since she would. ;) Here are two recipes I've used a long time and that Mikel grew up on.

The first is a simple banana bread recipe my mother scrawled onto an index card when I first go my own apartment at college.
Shirley Henson’s Banana Bread Recipe

1 stick of butter
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 mashed ripe bananas
1¼ cup flour
¾ tsp soda
½ tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in mashed banana.

In another bowl, mix together flour, soda and salt. Add to banana mixture. Mix well. Pour into greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 45 minutes before serving.
Add a half cup or so of chopped nuts if you like. Her instructions envision using a hand mixer, but in my large stand-up mixer I do it in one bowl.

I usually double this recipe and make two loaves because inevitably at our house the first loaf gets eaten within 24 hours and it keeps well wrapped lightly in plastic or foil for several days.

Another standard recipe in the Henson household is a brownie recipe I got from a cooking magazine, probably Cook's Illustrated, at some point in the mid-'90s. I've long ago lost the original text of the magazine article, but have made the recipe many dozens of times from memory. They're incredibly quick, easy and delicious. Here's the gist:
Chocolate Brownies

One stick of butter
8 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
1-1/4 cups of sugar
3 eggs
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of cocoa

Put butter in small bowl. Break up chocoloate on top. Microwave for 2 minutes on high. In bowl, beat together sugar and eggs. Add in butter/chocolate mixture. Mix in flour and cocoa until texture and color are consistent. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 38-40 minutes.
This was adjusted slightly from the original recipe, as I recall, which substituted a small amount of unsweentened chocolate for a portion of the semi-sweet. In my experience, this made the already-rich brownies just a little too bitter and intense for children's tastes, but if you want to try it, use 7 oz of semisweet and one oz of unsweetened chocolate instead of 8 oz semisweet.


Screwed Up Texan said...

The banana bread recipe looks like a good one and I am particularly pleased with the ingredient "one stick of butter." I think I'll try this one but add a couple more ripe bananas just because I like the flavor so much.

MidCoast Kid said...

And I thought it was the Moosewood recipe all these years.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Could be, MCK. I don't claim to have researched their origins. One I wrote down from memory from a '90s magazine recipe, and the other was copied from a 26 year old index card in my late mother's handwriting.

Certainly I apologize for any misattribution.