Chocolate-Cherry Skillet Banana BreadA classic banana bread never needs tweaking but it doesn’t hurt to give it a summer spin with fresh cherries…and chocolate makes everything better. Unlike other people whose summer season is dictated by the beginning and end of the school year, since we don’t have children, our season follows the dates on the calendar pretty closely. So when I see “end-of-summer” ads and back-to-school pictures on my Facebook feed in the middle of August, I’m thrown off a little. Right around the time kids return to school my husband and I take off on a Europe vacation and return as summer truly comes to a close. This is the week that we would normally be jetting off for our late summer adventure but we will be home this year. We had been counting on spending a few weeks in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, our favorite spot on the Côte d’Azur (featured here and here) but in July plans had to change, delaying our French Riviera fix for another year. My husband is especially disappointed as these plans have been replaced by something significantly less fun but we are looking forward to other things to do before the year is over. It’s been a busy travel year up to this point and we managed a trip to Spain and France in June before we realized our late-summer plans would change so it hasn’t been all bad. Speaking of late-summer if you can still find fresh cherries at the market this seasonally-inspired banana bread would be a tasty last hurrah. I must have half a dozen recipes for banana bread in this blog and I love them all –classic, vegan, Nutella-laced, corn bread style–there’s one to suit every palate. This one combines a few loves–chocolate, cherries and my current favorite method of baking banana bread in a skillet, throwing in a little corn meal for added texture. This was not a recipe that came out of brainstorming for something new. If you look closely at these images you’ll see that the cherries were a little past their best. I couldn’t let them go to waste and I had overripe bananas that begged to be used after one of our trips so this recipe was born. We enjoyed a few slices and shared the rest with my brother-in-law. I heard through the grapevine later that he ate this batch in virtually one sitting. While I don’t recommend binging on banana bread, I’ll take it as a sign that this is a keeper of a recipe.
Chocolate Cherry Skillet Banana Bread
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup medium ground corn meal
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- I cup fresh cherries, pitted and quartered
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas about 3 large bananas
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt I use low fat but full or nonfat would work
- 2 large eggs, beaten lightly
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Turbinado sugar for topping
- Baking spray or butter for coating the pan
Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Spray a 10-inch cast iron skillet (or 10-inch round baking pan) with baking spray and set aside. (See note)
In a large bowl whisk all the dry ingredients together from the flour to the kosher salt.
In another bowl stir together all the wet ingredients from the mashed bananas to the vanilla extract. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the cherries and chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the skillet and sprinkle a light layer of turbinado sugar on top of the batter. Bake until the top of the bread is crisp and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Note that this baking time is for my oven which has a convection feature. I preheat at 350ºF and bake at 325ºF with a total baking time of 40 minutes. If using a conventional oven, keep the baking temperature at 350ºF--the baking time will require an additional 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven.
If you want a crispier edge on this bread put the skillet in the oven while it preheats but don't spray the baking spray until the skillet is hot and you're ready to pour the batter in. You can also use butter instead of baking spray.