So last week Petey and I had a couple of errands to run. It was one of those really cold, windy, raw days. It was the kind of day where you’d happily stay bundled up in bed sipping hot chocolate if you could. But of course you can’t (or at least I can’t).
As we were coming home, we noticed that the convenience store on the corner wasn’t selling gas, and it looked kind of dark inside. I started to get a wee nervous.
Inside our house my fears were realized. The power was out. It was dim and chilly. We had some more running to do, so we locked up and left, hoping that the electricity would be back when we came home.
Once we finished everything, it was dark outside, and even colder than it had been, but the power was finally back on. Of course it took the rest of the night to reheat the house, but at least we had the electricity with which to do it. For the rest of the evening, we felt pretty chilly and quite sorry for ourselves.
That night would have been perfect for a warm, moist gooey piece of my special banana bread.
Brown butter country banana bread
The day before:
Toast ½ cup pecan pieces in dry pan until the color deepens and you can smell the toasted aroma. Store them in airtight container.
Make brown butter:
Put 5 ½ tablespoons butter into saucepan. Melt on medium. Turn down heat, and continue to simmer until the milk solids turn amber and the aroma is warm and nutty. Cool, stirring frequently to keep the brown bits suspended in the butter. Once cool, refrigerate. The next day, take butter out of fridge a couple hours before making bread, so it can soften.
1 cup light brown sugar
Brown butter, softened
1 ½ cups ripe bananas, mashed smooth
1/3 cup water
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup toasted pecans
1-8 ounce bag Heath Bits’O Brickle Toffee Bits
1 tablespoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350. Grease bottom of 8 ½ or 9 inch loaf pan.
Cream butter and sugar in large bowl of stand mixer or with hand mixer. Mix in eggs one at a time until blended. Add bananas, water, vanilla, and nutmeg; beat 30 seconds. Stir in rest of ingredients, except for nuts and toffee until it just comes together. Gently stir in nuts and toffee chips.
Pour into loaf pan. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, 60-75 minutes. Cool five minutes and turn out onto cooling rack. Makes about 24 slices.
There are two ways to eat this; for breakfast, or as a dessert.
For AM banana bread, spread slices with softened butter. Place in a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until browned and crisped.
For an indulgent after dinner treat you’ll need dulce de leche, a cooked caramel from Latin America. But luckily, it’s crazy easy to make.
Take one can of sweetened condensed milk (unopened), and place it in a large heavy pot. Cover it with water, and bring to slow simmer. Continue simmering for 4 hours, making sure it is always completely submerged. Remove from water and let it totally cool (I mean it. For safety’s sake, make sure it’s cool) before opening. Or cook completely submerged on low in a slow cooker for 8-10 hours (Please, please be careful—hot sugar is so dangerous it can badly burn your unborn descendants).
Drizzle a little onto warm slices of banana bread and add a scoop of ice cream if desired. If the loaf is to be exclusively for dessert, after removing from pan onto cooling rack, poke it all over with a toothpick, and pour warm dulce all over the top and let it soak in and cool before slicing.
This would be perfectly yummy if eaten in the summer. But there’s something about eating it warm, when it’s cold outside that feels like a hug from Grandma, without that pesky eau de Bengay.
Thanks for your time.