I love everything peanut butter.
It's a genetically inherited trait, passed on directly from my father.
Every night without fail, he'd stand in our quiet, dimly lit kitchen with a spoon in one hand,
jar of peanut butter in front of him.
The spoon would disappear into the jar
and come up full of sticky peanut butter,
the huge scoop's swirls cresting dangerously,
beautifully over the rounded metal edge.
It's one way to eat peanut butter. Simple. Satisfying. Pure in form.
This peanut butter banana bread is another way:
And yes, I was tempted to spread peanut butter on top of the hot, steaming slice
I cut straight from the pan, but instead opted for a large dollop of whipped cream
which promptly began to melt. Just as I'd hoped it would.
You see, peanut butter loving is a serious thing, and I take it very seriously.
M knows that he's not allowed to throw out a jar of peanut butter when it is "done."
I can still get a peanut butter feast out of that empty jar, and I'll stop anything just to sit there,
spatula in hand, scraping out every last morsel.
Only then does the jar hit the recycling bin.
In college I couldn't fall asleep if I hadn't yet eaten peanut butter that day.
I'd lie awake, wondering what was missing, and quite often it would occur to me:
I'd hop out of bed and tiptoe through the dark room toward the mini-fridge,
grabbing a spoon along the way.
Within minutes, I'd be finally able to fall fast asleep,
comforted by the taste, texture, and ritual.
This bread, I discovered, is equally as comforting.
My friend A and I baked it together the other night, hopping up from the couch every ten minutes to stare at it, lured toward the oven over and over again by the incredible smells filling the entire apartment:
sweet, ripe banana.
nutty, salty peanut butter
a hint of cocoa from the chocolate
and hits of warm vanilla and cinnamon.
We washed our huge slices of piping hot loaf down with big mugs of warm apple cider.
Every bite was everything I had hoped that it would be.
That night I slept incredibly well.
Peanut Butter Banana Bread: adapted from Cooking Light magazine. Use the method they suggest for combining the ingredients, which I outline below.
1 1/2 cups ripe banana, mashed
1/3 cup french vanilla fat-free yogurt
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 T. butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup flaxseeds (whole or ground)
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. pumpkin pie spice (or allspice)
1/8 cup chopped peanuts
1/8 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate chips
cooking spray and a 9x5 inch loaf pan
Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients until well incorporated. Next, add both the granulated and brown sugars and beat until well blended.
Spoon the flour into measuring cups for accuracy, then in a separate small bowl combine the flour with the next five ingredients. In small batches add the flour mixture to the wet banana mixture, beating only until it's just incorporated.
Pour the batter into the greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Top evenly with the peanuts and chocolate chips, then bake at 350 for 1 hour and five minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to cool completely. Wrap tightly in cling wrap. Allowing the flavors to sit overnight in the wrap makes everything taste better the next day, if you can stand to wait for a slice. I recommend not waiting...