bourbon and chocolate chip banana bread

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My aunt and uncle moved into their cute house on the northern border of Massachusetts last winter and going up to visit them is the perfect antidote to the crazy work schedule I’ve had lately. Technically it’s on a lake, but we all call it the Pond House and it is every bit as cozy and quaint as it sounds. The house boasts big plush couches in the living room, comfy chairs on the screened-in porch overlooking the lake, tall Adirondack chairs on the deck, and even a cute little bench on the dock right over the water.

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Have you figured out the pattern here? Whether it’s a bench, an Adirondack chair or a couch, there are myriad options of where to plant your tush while you sit and do nothing but while away the hours with some pretty awesome family members. Should you decide you’d like more movement than the basics of transporting wine or cheese from the table to your mouth, you can hop in a kayak or go for a scenic walk. In short, this is the life.

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My parents were in town and staying at the Pond House – our foldout bed has nothing on the Pond House which is only 40 minutes away so there was no question of where they would be spending their nights. Over the weekend, Joseph and I were getting ready to head up to spend the day with them reveling in doing nothing. I passed through our pantry and got a strong whiff of ripening bananas, the telltale sign that it was time to make some banana bread.

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I headed to the kitchen and was getting ready to make my favorite banana bread recipe when it suddenly occurred to me that maybe my new Joy the Baker Cookbook might have a banana bread recipe worth trying. I looked in the index and saw the perfect words, Bourbon Banana Bread, and I knew that I had to make it. It didn’t matter that the recipe wasn’t as fast and easy as my tried and true recipe. It didn’t matter that it would be using up some of the precious last drops of our bottle of bourbon. I had to have it.

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It’s really not that it’s a complicated recipe, but it’s different from my usual recipe in that it uses a creamed butter and sugar method rather than the simple oil and sugar from my old standby recipe. The result is a more delicate crumb, closer to cake than to the quick bread I’m used to. But it does mean that I have to lug out my mixer and I had been thinking of my simple quick bread that only takes a few minutes to throw together. This bourbon and chocolate recipe from Joy the Baker only takes a few extra minutes and it is certainly a phenomenal recipe, well worth getting the Kitchenaid out. And while you’re not going to get a buzz from the bourbon, its subtlety shines through, making it the perfect snack for an afternoon at the Pond House.

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Bourbon and Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook

I had just happened to have only about a half cup each of walnuts and pecans, so I used a combination. If you're not a fan of nuts, just leave them out. You can also swap the semisweet chocolate chips for the bittersweet if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3-4)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (or a combination)
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 8x4 or 9x5-inch loaf pan. Set aside. 
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. 
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add bananas, lemon juice, and bourbon. Beat until well incorporated.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat until almost incorporated. Stop the mixer and remove the bowl from the mixer. Add the walnuts and/or pecans and chocolate chips and incorporate the rest of the ingredients with a spatula. 
  6. Spoon mixture into loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow loaf to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. The banana bread will keep for up to 5 days, well wrapped, at room temperature.
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