The very best kinds of friends are those who show up on your doorstep with loaves of banana bread swirled with Nutella, still warm from the oven. The one Charlie made for us was just like any walnut-studded banana bread, only he stopped halfway through pouring the batter and slapped on a layer of Nutella, then topped it with the rest of the batter and baked it. I love this kind of experimentation. Especially when it works. And particularly when I get to be on the receiving end.
Chocolate and banana are a classic pairing, so you can imagine how well chocolate and hazelnuts goes with banana bread.
You could really use any basic banana loaf recipe to make this – simply layer it with a thick swath of Nutella in the middle before you bake it, and expect it to take a few extra minutes in the oven. To make muffins, which is coming up immediately on my to-make list, divide the batter among 12 muffin tins that have been sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with paper liners, filling them about a third full. Top with a spoonful of Nutella, and cover with more batter. Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch.
Nutella Swirl Banana Bread
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup plain low fat yogurt, low fat sour cream or buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour, or half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1/2 cup Nutella (or to taste)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8″x4″ or 9″x5″ loaf pan with non-stick spray.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until well combined the mixture will have the consistency of wet sand. Add the banana, eggs, yogurt and vanilla and beat until well blended. Don’t worry about getting all the lumps of banana out.
3. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and gently stir with a spatula just until combined. If you are adding nuts or other optional ingredients, throw them in before the batter is completely blended.
4. Pour about half the batter into your prepared pan, top with spoonfuls of Nutella, spreading it gently over the batter (don’t worry about getting it even), and top with the remaining batter. Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the top is cracked and springy to the touch. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Makes 1 loaf.