Fate dealt me a lovely hand last week when I found a bag of chopped hazelnuts in the pantry that were getting a little long in the tooth and needed to be used. I can't remember why I had bought them in the first place, in fact, I can't remember buying them at all…..dang memory.
My first thought was to toast them and toss them into a grain and veggie based salad to have with some grilled chicken over the weekend, and as I was rifling through the grain bin to find a suitable partner for the nuts, I glanced overhead and found a half-eaten jar of Nutella in the chocolate bin above.
Yes, I'm an anal retentive Virgo with a pantry full of labeled bins for every type of food stuff imaginable. There's one for "Sugar and Sweeteners", "Rice and Grains", "Chips and Crackers", "Flours and Baking Mixes", "Nuts and Fruits"……you get the picture.
Ok, you can stop laughing now.
So….there I was when the jar of Nutella cried out for some help from the "Chocolate" bin (my favorite), and I quickly went to work on a new plan for the hazelnuts. You see, Nutella is a hazelnut and chocolate spread and would be a natural partner for the nuts I needed to use, and as much as I'm a fan of grains and veggies, when a jar of Nutella's screaming my name, I listen. The final flash of inspiration for this recipe came from my wife who was quite anxious for me to find a use for an over-ripe bunch of bananas that were spawning a fruit fly insurgency on the kitchen counter.
Hazelnuts + Nutella + Banana Bread = All problems solved in a most delicious way!
The resulting bread is a tasty treat that sits somewhere between the standard banana bread I make which you can find here, and the cocoa banana bread (a real chocolate bomb of a thing) that we love found here. This beauty has a dense, moist crumb and just a hint of chocolate from the nutella. The toasted hazelnuts add a nice earthy crunch and keep the whole mix from getting too sweet. All-in all a rather delicious pantry cleaning exercise.
Cheers – Steve
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups coarsely mashed very ripe bananas (about 4 large)
- 3/4 cup Nutella
- 1/4 cup crème fraîche, greek style yoghurt, or sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 1/3 cups hazelnuts (4 ounces), toasted, skinned and chopped
- Heat oven to 350°F. Butter 2 (9- by 5- by 3-inch) metal loaf pans, then dust with flour, knocking out excess. This recipe actually makes about 2 1/2 loaves, so if you have a smaller loaf pan, butter and flour that as well, and make an additional mini-loaf.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl.
- Beat together eggs and sugar in bowl of electric mixer with a whisk attachment at medium-high speed until very thick and pale, and the mixture forms a ribbon when beater is lifted, about 10 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add oil in a slow stream, mixing, then mix in bananas, crème fraîche, Nutella, and vanilla. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in flour mixture and hazelnuts gently but thoroughly.
- Divide batter between loaf pans to about 2/3 full, spreading evenly, and bake in the lower third of the oven until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, about 1 hour. Start checking for doneness at about 45 minutes. The mini loaf may take about 10-15 minutes less than the full sized loaves.
- Cool loaves in pans on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack. Turn loaves right side up and cool completely.