Chai Spiced Banana Bread

Chai Spiced Banana Bread - Loaf

Sometimes you just know a recipe is going to be perfect. From that first moment you lay eyes on it. Maybe it’s the ingredients that are your favorites or bring special memories. Maybe it is the Chef. Someone that has a history of delighting your palate. In this case, it was both. When my eyes first danced upon Chai Spiced Banana Bread from Jennifer Segal of Once Upon a Chef, I had to stop as a quick breath escaped my lips. Chai? And banana bread? How can that be? How can that be!? I could hardly wait for everyone to fall asleep that night (there is some baking / cooking you want to do on your own. I can’t explain it.). As I was cleaning the dishes I assembled the ingredients. I would go in at bedtime as everyone was quietly snoring. As I sifted the spices: cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice, I knew this was going to be perfect. As I mashed the bananas and readied my inverted pumpkin loaf pan, I knew this was going perfect. My only hesitation, my only fear, came as the bread was baking and the most amazing aroma enveloped my home. Surely it was going to wake at least the family, and quite possible the whole sleepy neighborhood! No one awoke and I was able to get a few hours sleep before my youngest foodie made her appearance. “What is that amazing smell Mommy?” “Oh that? Just some bread I made last night. Would you like to try it?” And as I showed D the bread she started jumping up and down, licking her lips. I gave her a big, fat slice (it was breakfast time, after all). “Oh mommy, this is SO good. You are the best cooker ever! I love everything you cook. Can you cook this again?” And I knew it was perfect.

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off with a knife
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas, from 2-3 bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 9x5x3″ loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large bowl or electric m ixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each addition.  Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt.  Add to the butter mixture and beat gently until just combined.  Add bananas, sour cream and vanilla and mix on low speed until just combined.  Gently stir in nuts if using.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake until deep golden brown and cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 60 – 70 minutes.  Let rest for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.  Serve warm or even toasted.

Servings: One Loaf
Prep time: 10 minutes; Baking: 70 minutes

Chai Spiced Banana Bread - Slices

Courtesy:  Once Upon A Chef

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Spiced Pecans

Do you ever have that moment when you realize, “Crap!  We’re going to be at XYZ’s house this evening!  What do I bring?  I guess another bottle of Sauvignon blanc.”  I was bringing sb so much that I believe I was being compared to Ramona Singer and her Pinot grigio, though I haven’t started bottling my own (oh wait, it JUST got interesting . . . ).  You know Ramona, have bottle will travel.  We’ll go into my whole sb obsession soon.  Something for everyone to look forward to!  Anyhow, here I was on Saturday with just a few hours before attending a wonderful dinner party being hosted by fascinating friends and I was going to bring, what, sb again?  It just didn’t feel right.  So, to Google I go!  I have now been introduced to a whole new side of Martha Stewart.  The Martha Stewart I always knew was a Martha Stewart I could admire (or make fun of) from afar because I work full-time!  Where am I going to find the time to do these elaborate home-made creations?  And not just cooking, but crafts.  There is no way I can knit my own Christmas stockings!  The recipe below, however, just may change that.  I’ll let you know at Christmas

Ingredients:

4 cups unsalted pecans (whole or halves will work)

2 Tbs maple syrup

4 tsp coarse salt (such as sea salt)

1 tsp Mexican style chili powder

1 tsp ancho chili pepper

1 tsp chili paste (such as Huy Fong)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine pecans, syrup, 3 tsp salt, chili powder, chili pepper, and chili paste.  Stir (or toss) to coat.

Spread pecans in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining teaspoon of salt and let cool.  Serve immediately, or take to your friends house at room temperature where they hope it will last for up to 1 week (it just might get eaten in 1 sitting).

You can also kick this one up, if you know for sure that the recipient likes thing spicy.  You can add 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.  Also, you can substitute the ancho chili pepper with 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

Serves 4 cups

Hands on time:10 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

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*Derived from Martha Stewart