This festive banana bread where the ginger is blended with semisweet chocolate chips, brown sugar, bananas and eggnog, with a vanilla eggnog glaze, is an explosion of cheerfulness in your mouth.
Every time I talk on the phone to my mother in Rome, she updates me with all the things that they're doing before Christmas. She decorated the house, hung the wreath on the door of their apartment, decorated the real Christmas tree (the one Loreto and I bought last year during our Roman Holidays), they went out shopping, visiting some relatives and my grandfather (this will be our second Christmas without Nonna). My father, on his part, was busy making his usual Presepe, a Nativity scene, that every year counts more characters, villages, animal, bridges, lakes, rivers and hills. It is pretty amazing, it takes a huge part of their terrace, it lights up and it is also animated: water drips from fountains, rivers flow, characters move. Every Church and Cathedral in Rome, during the holidays has a Nativity scene. It is custom to check most of them out every year. The setting is enchanting: music in the background, sometimes a real choir singing Christmas song, the peacefulness and majesty of the building encompassing the visitor in a warm embrace. Outside, locals and tourists bustling round and about, lights sparkling, air warm and scented.
Last year we were there, in Rome, we had Christmas with my family and we had a lovely "brown" Christmas. This year we are in Edmonton and it is all beautifully white 🙂 . The most important thing is that we are together. We had a lovely walk a couple of nights ago along Candy Cane Lane, a stretch of wonderfully decorated houses, all lit up and festive. Some have music coming from speakers under the trees, others have camp fires to soothe the wanderers from the chilly wind. A cup of warm eggnog coffee in our hands we strolled and smiled at the people we met. It was a mild night (mild compared to the average temperatures of the season) and there were many couples hand in hand like us, many families with kids on their sleighs, each of us in awe at the beauty of nature enhanced by man made festive beauty.
As a custom that I learned since my first year in Canada, these days our fridge has always a carton of eggnog inside. When it's about to finish we buy another one, so we never run out. Loreto and I we are not big eggnog drinkers, we have it once in a while in our coffee, but it is my stepson Joel's favorite and he drinks it like it is regular milk and he makes a point of saying "Don't buy the light stuff". He likes the real deal. We found out, anyway, that it is delicious when added in our baking. You will have few recipes coming your way where the eggnog is the co-star of the show: pancakes, cookies, waffles and of course this Chocolate Ginger Eggnog Banana Bread.
In my last post about Scones, I told you that I loved reading "A Homemade Life" by Molly Wizenberg. This recipe is a play on her fantastic Banana Bread. Again, she uses crystallized ginger, a delectable candied fruit that is the perfect flavor for this time of the year: blended with semisweet chocolate chips, brown sugar, bananas and eggnog is an explosion of cheerfulness in your mouth. Since it's all about layers of textures, in baking as in cooking, I added an eggnog glaze to an already yummy banana bread. Icing sugar combined with eggnog and a touch of vanilla, makes it for a silky smooth coating that reminds me of a snow fall.
The look is rustic in a refined sort of way. The flavor is unbelievable. Moist, dense but light, chocolatey and candied sweet thanks to the ginger, with the distinct taste of a banana bread but with a grown-up, rich and decadent charm.
I had a slice when it was not even set, glaze sticking to my fingertips, with a glass of almond milk. It was scrumptious. The licking of my fingers was inevitable.
We finished it all, slice after slice: at breakfast, afternoon snack and after dinner on the couch with a cup of tea in our hand, it was a pleasant dessert that brought a satisfied smile on our face and warmth in our heart.
Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Have a most joyful season!
Song of the day: "The Ragpicker's Dream" by Mark Knopfler.
Recipe adapted from the book "A Homemade Life" by Molly Wizenberg.Print
- 6 Tbsp (3 ounces) unsalted butter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ¾ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- ⅓ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 2 large eggs
- 2 mashed ripe bananas
- ½ cup eggnog
- 1 tsp vanilla
For the glaze:
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 Tablespoons eggnog
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350° F and set a rack in the center.
- Grease a standard-sized (about 9x5 inches) loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.
- In a small bowl, microwave the butter until just melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, eggnog, melted butter and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
- Bake until the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.
- Cool the loaf in the pan then tip it out onto the rack.
- For the glaze: In a medium bowl, add confectioners' sugar, eggnog, vanilla, and whisk until smooth. As necessary, add additional eggnog (or sugar) to reach desired glaze consistency (glaze should be fairly thin and easily pourable).
- Evenly pour glaze over banana bread (it doesn't have to be cooled completely), smoothing it lightly with a spatula.
Fully cooled, this bread freezes beautifully. To protect it from frost, wrap it in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil.
- Serving Size: about 8 servings
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