Bananas pair surprisingly well with coffee. Even big coffee chains have had banana-flavored coffee drinks over the past couple of years, mixing bananas with espresso, chocolate and/or caramel. I don’t think that these drinks were as popular as some on the menu, but I also bet that not enough people gave them a fair shake. Since I’ve been playing with Starbucks Via lately, I decided to mix the two flavors together in a baked good, a variation on banana bread that incorporates coffee.
I added coffee into the banana bread batter itself. The Via I used incorporated very smoothly and added a ton of coffee flavor, so you can really taste it in the finished bread. Since black coffee isn’t exactly sweet, the coffee ensures that this bread has a mellow, rich taste to it and isn’t too sweet. That said, I did want to add back some sweetness, so I incorporated some milk chocolate chips into the bread. The milk chocolate goes well with the banana and the coffee, and the bread overall had a great mix of flavors and was a nice twist on plainer banana bread. This might not be as popular with the kids as the standard banana bread, but it gets my vote for pairing with a cup of coffee or latte in the morning.
I used disposable, aluminum foil mini loaf pans for these breads so that I could give them out as gifts. The pans measure about 5×3-inches, give or take a little bit. Since they’re not the sturdiest things, I put them on a baking sheet. Bear in mind that, if you use these same little loaf pans, the baking time may be impacted slightly by the type of baking sheet you choose to set them on. An insulated sheet might mean a few extra minutes in the oven. A heavier, darker baking sheet might mean a few minutes less. Test your bread with a toothpick before the timer goes off just to be sure. If you happen to have regular pans of this size, use those and grease them lightly first.
Coffee Chocolate Chip Banana Breads
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 packet Starbucks Via, or 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 medium bananas, mashed (approx 1 cup)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease two two 5×3-inch loaf pans (or use disposable foil pans).
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, Via or instant espresso, sugar and brown sugar.
In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, vegetable oil, buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract until smooth and well-combined. Pour into dry ingredients and stir only until no streaks of flour remain. Add in chocolate chips and stir to evenly distribute.
Divide evenly into prepared pans. Place pans in a baking sheet.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool in pans on a wire rack.
Makes 2 mini loaves
Note: This bread can be baked in a 9×5-inch loaf pan, increasing the baking time to about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.