Someone recently asked me what my favorite thing to bake was and I was stumped because it is difficult to narrow it down when I like so many things! The truth is that I like to bake just about anything, but if I have to pick, I would say that brownies are one of my favorite things to bake. They’re easy to bake, huge crowd pleasers and you can put many different spins on them to change their flavor completely. These Banana Brownies with Cacao Nibs, for instance, definitely stand out from your average brownie.
The basic brownie batter here is one that I use often, made with melted dark chocolate and cocoa powder for a strong chocolate flavor. I added mashed banana to the brownie base, along with chocolate chips and cacao nibs. Cacao nibs are chopped up pieces of roasted cocoa beans. The nibs usually go on to become chocolate, but they can also be added to chocolate bars and baked goods for a little crunch and a slightly toasty, nutty, chocolate element.
These brownies are pretty amazing and a fantastic change of pace from your standard brownie recipe. They are super moist and fudgy, yet still tender, and they have a great balance of chocolate and banana flavor. I used dark chocolate chips, but semisweet are a good choice here, as well. The cacao nibs add a crunch, but are more subtle than a big pecan or walnut is going to be, and they enhance the overall chocolatiness of the brownies. You might have to look to a specialty baking store to find the nibs, but if you want to skip them you’ll get good results by using walnuts or pecans in this recipe, too.
Banana Brownies with Cacao Nibs
1/2 cup butter, softened
2-oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 banana, mashed (approx 2/3 cup)
2/3 cup flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisking steadily, pour chocolate mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Stir in mashed banana.
Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt into the bowl and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and 3 tbsp cacao nibs, then pour brownie batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle reserved tablespoon of cacao nibs over the top of the brownies.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until brownies set and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pan comes out with only a few moist crumbs, not batter, attached. (Brownies can also be baked in a 8×8 pan for 35-40 minutes)
Cool in the pan completely before slicing and serving.
Makes about 16 large brownies