What a difference a pan makes!

This time, inspiration sprang from a bunch of over ripe bananas. At first, it was just going to be banana bread, with a few chocolate chips thrown in for good measure. But something happened. I had a vision of swirls of chocolate banana bread mixed in with the regular banana bread. Sort of like a marble rye – but better… So, instead of merely tossing in some chocolate chips at the last minute, I melted a handful in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Meanwhile, I made the batter. This particular batter was heavy on the bananas. My regular recipe calls for 3-4 bananas per batch, this time I had 10 – so, even as a double batch, it was going to be moist.

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Within hours, the mini chocolate banana breads were disappearing from the divided brownie pan, not even fully cool yet and already a hit!

Once I had the banana bread batter made I greased and floured one loaf pan, then I happened to see my divided brownie pan, which had not yet been put away, and I had a revelation – if I used the pan it would make 12 mini banana breads. I had to try it. I dispensed with the second loaf pan and greased and floured the bottom of the divided brownie pan.

Back to the batter. I placed a third of the plain batter in the loaf pan, and another third in the brownie pan. Then I removed the chocolate chips, which were melty by now, from the pan of boiling water and stirred the rest of the banana bread batter into the melted chocolate. I added another handful of chocolate chips to the chocolate batter and then dolloped it all across the top of both the batter in the loaf pan and in the brownie pan. I swirled it through with a knife, running it one way and then the other and then just kind of all around in one last circle. Finally, I placed the divider into the brownie pan and off to the oven for both. The brownie pan with the dividers only took about 35 – 40 minutes to bake, whereas the loaf pan took the entire hour plus 10 more minutes until it was fully done in the center.

I left them to cool. When I returned from being out for a few hours I was greeted with some very happy faces. This experiment seems to have turned out alright. In fact, the mini chocolate marble banana breads were evaporating off the cooling rack – instead of a dozen, there were only 8 left! They were a hit with the crew. I think that banana bread is even better once it’s finally cool. Let’s hope it gets the chance.

Here is the difference the pan made, when the loaf of chocolate marble banana bread was finally cool, we had a slice, and it just did not compare at all to the mini version. The minis were light, fluffy and moist whereas the loaf of banana bread was heavy, dense and not nearly as flavorful. Same batter, same preparation, but the divided brownie pan made all the difference and I only used it on a whim! Here is the single recipe for a batch to be made in one 9″ divided brownie pan.

Mini Chocolate Marble Banana Bread

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The light and fluffy texture of the minis made all the difference in the Chocolate Marble Banana Bread experience.

½ cup unsalted butter

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 medium or 4 large ripe bananas, pureed in a food processor

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons buttermilk

½ cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided in half)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place half of the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a bowl over a pan of gently boiling water. Meanwhile, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and bananas and mix until combined, scraping down the side of the bowl several times. Sift flour, soda and salt together. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the dry. Add nuts.

Place two-thirds of the batter into a greased 9″ square divided brownie pan – divider removed for now. Remove the bowl of chocolate which has melted and stir the remaining batter into the melted chocolate. Add the rest of the chocolate chips to the chocolate batter.

Drop spoonfuls of the chocolate batter on top of the plain batter. Swirl a knife through the batter back and forth a few times and then in a circle just once. Carefully replace the divider. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until a wooden pick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely, then run a knife around the outer edge of the brownie pan. Remove the divider and all the small banana breads. Remove the mini banana breads with care, using a knife to loosen them.

Makes 12 mini banana breads baked in one 9″ divided brownie pan

Tip: Hide the brownie pan on top of the refrigerator, so the mini banana breads get the chance to cool!


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