Thursday, July 28, 2011

Banana Bread with Walnuts, Figs and Chocolate

After a BAD summer cold, yesterday, I had my first (short-lived) burst of energy which was inspired by a HUGE bunch of over-ripe bananas sitting on the kitchen table. Note: Never send husband to buy bananas.

Normally, I like to add poppy seeds to my banana bread, but, in my weakened condition, I wanted to health-up the bread just a teense.  I had some dried Mission Figlets in the pantry, so decided to add a cup of diced figs to the batter.  Delicious! Think banana bread with the crunchy, seedy goodness of a Fig Newton.

For the last two mini loaves, I also threw in a handful of dark chocolate chips because I felt I deserved it.

My favorite banana bread recipe comes from my very old copy of Noteworthy  - A Collection of Recipes from the Ravinia Festival. For those of you who are not familiar with the Chicago area, (we live only 90 miles up the Lake Michigan shoreline from downtown Chicago), the Ravinia Festival is a month-long celebration of music and food in a park setting in Highland Park, Illinois. Part of the tradition and appeal is bringing your own picnic food which inspired this cookbook. As you can see, my book has been used so often over the years, it is now held together by strapping tape.  When I found a brand new copy at Half Price Books recently, I was thrilled! Beware - Noteworthy, Two is not nearly as good as the first book.

What could possibly add to all of this banana bread goodness?  Homemade butter!  I had bought a quart of heavy cream at Sam's last week to make whipping cream for ice cream sundaes when we had guests for dinner and I ended up barely using a third of it.  I had read about making butter from cream recently so did a quick search for instructions and found this wonderful and humorous tutorial

Since I had my stand mixer out anyway to make the banana bread - I was able to make 8 ounces of butter in no time at all. I was amazed at how easy it was and how good it tastes. I will never throw out unused cream again!

Banana Bread with Walnuts, Figs and Chocolate

Inspired by Noteworthy
Printable Recipe

Yields 1-2 standard-sized loaves or 4-6 mini loaves

¼ pound (1 stick) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-1/3 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
4 cups sifted flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups mashed bananas (6-7 small bananas)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried Mission Figlets, stem removed and diced
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter loaf pans or spray with nonstick cooking spray (I like Bakers Joy spray).

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add alternately with bananas to egg mixture. Fold in nuts, figs and chocolate chips, if using. Pour into prepared loaf pans and bake in 350 degree oven for 60-70 minutes, depending on the size of the pans you are using. My mini loaf pans only take about 40-45 minutes. If a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, they are done. Cool in pans 5 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your nasty summer cold. They are terrible. I see, however, that you know how to treat yourself well. Would you believe that I just took a loaf of banana bread out of the oven and am waiting for it to cool? No chocolate or figs (which sound delicious) but rum soaked golden raisins, macadamia nuts and coconut.

    I have the Noteworthy and Noteworthy 2 and use them often. We've enjoyed many picnics on the grounds and even treated ourselves to an inside seat for Yo Yo Ma a few years back. Good thing since it poured rain the minute he started to play.

    Hope you feel fine soon.


  2. Glad to hear the cold has gone, or going away! "Enhanced" banana bread is a great reward. I would love to have some, its been a while since I had banana bread!

  3. Love banana bread - bet it is good with the figs.
    Hope you feel better soon.

  4. The banana bread sounds great Susan, and homemade butter-you go girl! Sorry to hear about the cold, doesn't sound like fun at all! Glad you're feeling a little better:@)

  5. *popping an echincea pill for good measure*

    Oh a summer rotten. You didn't deserve it. What a yummy sounding treat you've shared with us. Sorry about your hubby's banana error, but glad it all worked out.

    Couldn't help but notice that great cutting board you have!

  6. So sorry about your unexpected visitor :-) I hope it leaves soon. Your banana bread looks wonderful!

  7. Hope you are feeling better! I started feeling lousy on 4th of July evening and after 2 trips to the MD and 4 prescriptions later I'm better - it only took 3 weeks!

    Your bread looks delicious! I never think of adding chocolate to my banana bread and I love the combination!

    Thanks for stopping by today! If you haven't had a lobster ruben, you have to, it was amazing! That entire lunch was amazing!

    Have a wonderful weekend!


  8. I'm glad you are feeling better, Susan. I just got over a 24 hour stomach bug myself :( Unfortunately, summer does bring along it's quotient of viruses!

    I love making banana bread -- it is our favorite treats! Your recipe makes a larger batch than mine does, so I will definitely try it to have extra loaves on hand to freeze. I have lots of blueberries right now so I may add them to the batter instead of the fugs and chocolate :)

  9. Glad to hear that you feel better now. I love yours with figs...very different from what I had before.

  10. Summer colds are the absolute worst, so I hope you are feeling better. A few slices of this tasty bread would cheer anyone up.

  11. I love bana bread and this look delicious!! gloria

  12. Hei!Oh ich kenne das...Sommer erkältung ist sehr lästig...
    Dein Brot rezept ist lecker...humm!Liebe grüße aus Germany.Luciene.

  13. I feel sorry for you. There is nothing worst than cold in the summer time,,, ehh. Your bread however made my day! It looks so good and delicious. Love how moist it looks.

  14. Oh Susan, I'm so sorry you were so ill. We've had a bad week here as well, but illness struck a family member.

    Back on subject - your banana bread looks amazing, and such a good idea to add dried figs. I have some in the pantry as well and look forward to trying this version. Continue to get well!

    PS - I loved your comment, "I also threw in a handful of dark chocolate chips because I felt I deserved it." :)

  15. Well bananas, fig & chocolate have to be a cure-all! This sounds wonderful~ I'm looking forward to trying it!

  16. Susan -- glad to hear you're on the mend. Your banana bread looks wonderful!! I always put chocolate chips in mine but the addition of figs sounds heavenly :)


  17. First, hope you are feeling much better--nothing worse than a summer cold!! Second, that banana bread sounds and looks delicious!! Third, I can't believe you made your own butter!! I can't tell you how much heavy cream goes down the drain in my house -- next time I'll be making butter :-)

  18. This wonderful sounding Banana Bread with Walnuts, Figs and Chocolate has to help against your nasty summer cold. I want to make this!

  19. Sorry to hear you weren't feeling so good. Your bread looks fabulous! WOW, and the that's the best! Have a great weekend:)

  20. Summer colds stink. There is something that just seems extra cruel about having a cold in the summer. I can sympathize since I had one this Summer too. Love your idea of adding poppy seeds to banana bread! I'd love for you to come by and show off your recipe at These Chicks Cooked Recipe Spotlight today. Have a blessed day :)

  21. So sorry you're sick! Summertime sickness is the worst!!

    This bread is a wonderful combination of flavors!

  22. Sorry about your cold! That bread would make anyone feel better, what a great idea to use the figs! And even better with some chocolate thrown in!

  23. wow this bread looks amazing :-) hope your feeling back to your old self soon :-)

  24. Hope you feel better soon. Summer colds are the worst. This bread looks so yummy. I love making banana bread and there are so many different variations. This one sounds so good!

  25. Sometimes truth is just waaay stranger than fiction. Believe it or not, my daughter had the summer cold this week and had to stay home from work. When she was on the mend she made Banana Bread. Honest.

  26. That is a beautiful loaf of bread. You definitely have my attention at the mention of figs!

  27. So hard to get rid of a summmer cold; hope you are feeling better. Your mini loaves are perfect. I just bought minin pans and have started experimenting.
    How did your butter come out?

  28. I'm so sorry you caught one of those nasty summer colds, Susan. Sometimes that can be hard to shake off. I can't wait to tell my daughter in Chicago about the Ravinia Festival. They are always looking for fun summertime events. I know I will like your very tasty additions to banana bread. I would never have thought to add figs.

    Hope you feel better very soon.

  29. Summer colds are the worst. It just doesn't seem right to get miserable heat and sneezing runny noses. The banana bread looks like great medicine for anything that ails you... and the potassium is not so bad either!

  30. Banana bread is great. Banana bread with chocolate is better. Banana bread with chocolate and figs is sinful!
    That's all I have to say about that:)

    Susan, I hope you're feeling better today; I dealt with a summer cold last month and I was the picture of pitifulness. Get well hugs.

  31. Aww I'm so sorry you've been feeling sick! Summer colds are the worst.

    But this banana bread looks super cheerful and delicious! I love your fun mix-ins.

  32. Hope you are feeling better thanks to this wonderful banana bread! (food is my therapy!); the idea to churn your own butter is a great one! I want to do this too, as I am getting ready to make my own cheese this weekend! Love the idea of adding some figs.

  33. Awww, summer colds are the worst! Hope you're feeling better now. I have to say, this is an inspired blend of flavors! I'm a big fan of figs, and the chocolate you tossed in at the last minute sealed the deal. Sounds like a keeper! :)

  34. Hope you are feeling better, and the bread looks delicious!
    When we were kids and mom told us to whip the cream, she would always admonish us not to whip too much or it would turn to butter! I used to make butter with my class for our Tgiving feast, and it took a lot of shaking in a jar to turn to butter. They were amazed you could make butter from cream, and the by product, the buttermilk.


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