One Banana Bread for Chocolate Lovers, One for Caramel Fanatics

December  3, 2016

Banana bread is one of my favorite comfort foods. Moist and rich, it's just sweet enough to qualify as dessert, but not so cloyingly you couldn't happily enjoy a slice for breakfast. I prefer a pretty classic version with a dense interior and a crackly golden-brown crust. Each slice should be flecked with banana and, should you choose to freeze it (do it!), it should yield to your teeth with a satisfying chew.

Yes, there's almond paste in here (really!). Photo by Posie Harwood

While you can't beat the classic, you can add to your repertoire of banana bread recipes. And if my sole legacy in this world is providing more ways for everyone to bake banana bread, I'll be happy. In doing some research on the topic, I came across two interesting twists on banana bread: a chocolate-almond version from Odense Almond Paste and a toffee-rum version from an old Hershey's recipe. Loving the idea of both, I tweaked them to my liking, adding and removing some ingredients here and there and changing the ratio so they were just sweet enough.

The chocolate loaf is decadent and intense, tasting deeply of bittersweet chocolate and made even more moist with the addition of almond paste. It has a nuttier, richer flavor than most banana breads and veers close to cake territory. You can use any cocoa powder you like, but I recommend trying to find black or dark cocoa powder, as it'll up the intensity factor.

Look at those ribbons of melty caramel! Photo by Posie Harwood

Instead of toffee, I used a soft block of caramel (which you can buy online here, or find soft caramel candies in a drugstore) in the rum version. I added more rum, because frankly that's never been a bad idea in my experience. Toasting the nuts gives the loaf more depth of flavor and a pleasantly crunchy texture, too. I worried that the caramel wouldn't melt properly, but it does so beautifully. The edges get gooey and crisp where the caramel peeks out, and every few bites has a ribbon of something that's creamy, sweet, and melty.

Gooey and crisp edges. Photo by Posie Harwood

Banana bread happens to freeze wonderfully, and it's a fantastic baked good to have on hand for a quick weeknight dessert or snack to serve guests. I recommend making both loaves and freezing a few for the busy holidays ahead. I promise there will be at least one night where you will unwrap a slice, toast it, and curl up under a blanket praising your own baking skills.

Posie Harwood is a writer, photographer, and food stylist based in New York. You can read more of her writing here.

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What are you favorite banana bread add-ins? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • diane susoev
    diane susoev
  • Greg
  • Laura415
  • meg
  • Julie
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


diane S. January 21, 2018
I’m addicted to incorporating sourdough starter in any quick bread or cake recipe these days. Substituting olive oil has been other my go-to secret ingredient. I cannot wait to try this as it’s a perfect candidate!
Greg January 20, 2018
Posie, is that espresso coffee in the chocolate almond banana bread ground bean or instant? Is your personal classic banana bread recipe posted somewhere, I haven't yet searched? Thanks.
Posie (. January 20, 2018
Hi Greg! It’s espresso powder, not instant espresso. My go-to recipes (which I tweak slightly but roughly follow the template) are Molly Wizenberg’s banana bread with cinnamon sugar topping and King Arthur’s whole-grain banana bread!
Laura415 December 23, 2016
Have a few caramels left from last weeks batch of Christmas caramel project. Looking forward to trying the caramel rum version. Will use GF flour mix for wheat flour. Banana bread doesn't need too much structure and should be tender so it's always been a GF go too.
meg December 10, 2016
What f I use pumpkin instead of banana pulp?
Julie December 10, 2016
these recipes sound amazing! can i substitute almond butter for the almond paste?
Posie (. December 10, 2016
Hm. I think that would be interesting because the texture is so different. You could try it and hopefully it would have the effect of merely making the final bread more moist. I'd give it a shot!