Ch. 18: Cocoa Banana Bread AKA The Black Sheep


I really wanted to like this recipe– trust me, I did. But I’ll start off by saying that of all things I’ve made this lockdown (which is up to about 50 new recipes as I write this), this one in particular makes the top 5 worst. I was browsing through Bon Appetit recipes when I came across a Blackout Chocolate Banana Bread by Molly Baz. Upon reading the comments, many people agree that it’s BA’s take on Alison Roman’s Cocoa Banana Bread. Alison is a food writer and cookbook author who formerly worked at BA. I’m going to skip over that little internet spat she was in  a few months ago because frankly I’m just here to talk about recipes– not the personal lives of their creators. In seeing the similarities of the two, I opted to try out Alison’s as it appeared to come first. The beauty shot of the two slit bananas on top as well as the addition of chocolate, got me really interested in making this- however, I should have kept my hopes down

The recipe starts by coating the pan with a nonstick cooking spray + demerara sugar coating which is honestly a great option for any loaf style cakes as they do come out quite easily. The batter is then made by creaming softened butter, brown sugar and vanilla together before adding in the egg. The light, fluffy mix is then weighed down by the addition of the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. The result is a thick paste- far more dense than you’d expect a batter to be at this point. Still, I went on, trusting the recipe. The mashed bananas are then added, followed by some sour cream- both of which get folded into the mix. I should note that this step was quite difficult as the slick and wet bananas cannot easily be “folded” into the thick chocolate paste. The best you can do is stir it up to prevent lumps. Same goes for the sour cream- again the difference in how loose the cake batter and sour cream are make it almost impossible to fold. Once the chocolate banana batter is cohesive, it’s emptied into the loaf pan and topped with the remaining banana cut lengthwise. They’re then placed on the batter cut-side up for that instagram worthy aesthetic and topped with more demerara sugar before being baked for 90-100 minutes. 

Now, I don’t want to completely trash this recipe because it does have really good reviews from many people. However, I just wasn’t a fan and neither were my family. The finished cake came out pretty dense- likely a result from the thick chocolate paste it starts off with, as well as being in the oven for over 90 minutes. It’s not as light and soft as you’d expect from a banana bread. In terms of flavor- it’s pretty well centered in the middle. It’s sort of not chocolaty enough to be a chocolate cake, but yet doesn’t have enough banana flavor to be a banana bread. It’s almost as if it should lean towards one flavor profile with the secondary flavor acting as an accent. The sliced banana on top, while cool to look at, doesn’t offer much either. It gets dry after being in the oven, making it worse than when eaten fresh. After a slice or two from each of us, we wrapped it up and eventually fed it to the chickens. We don’t like wasting food, so if we don’t eat something, it means we really didn’t like it. Hopefully I messed up somewhere along the way while making this, because really the recipe sounded so good on screen. But for now, it’s definitely one black sheep that doesn’t have a place at the dinner table.

Full Recipe | Method by Alison Roman, reprinted by The Splendid Table

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