This peanut butter banana bread with roasted cacao nibs is the latest experiment from my kitchen. I’d never used roasted cacao nibs before, so I was excited to create this recipe to see what kind of texture and flavor it would bring. Cacao nibs are bits of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao bean. They have a nutty, chocolaty flavor, but aren’t sweet.
I wanted to do a riff on banana bread, adding in some crunchy peanut butter (one of my favorite ingredients) and roasted cacao nibs. But I was having some trouble finding cacao nibs in local grocery stores. So I found roasted cacao nibs online at The Spice House in Chicago. This is Chicago’s spice mecca. Their bricks-and-mortar store is so enticing, because each aisle is brimming with unique spice blends. It’s safer for my wallet to buy from their online store. [Yes, my name is Harvey and I’m a spice addict.] I’ve purchased their lavender vanilla sugar mix, double-strength vanilla, candied gingers and baking lavender there in the past, along with gifting to family and friends one of their most popular items: Ethnic Chicago Neighborhoods Spice Blends.
With banana as the primary canvas, I wanted to mix in ingredients that would add depth to the flavor. In this recipe, I used whole wheat flour – but you could substitute all-purpose flour, if you desire. And you could substitute granulated sugar instead of dark brown sugar.
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Generously grease a 9-inch loaf pan and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and kosher salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until it’s light in color. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix just until combined. Then add the mashed bananas and peanut butter; blend thoroughly.
Add lemon juice to the milk. Don’t worry if the milk curdles slightly. Alternate the addition of dry ingredients (in 3 parts) with the wet ingredients (in 2 parts). After each addition, mix only until the ingredients are blended.
Fold in the roasted cacao nibs by hand.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. With a spatula, level off the batter to ensure even baking and rising.
Bake for 55 minutes or until the bread springs back when touched lightly in the middle. Do not over bake; the cacao nibs – which are already roasted – will have a tendency to burn if the bread is baked for too long. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the peanut butter banana bread from the loaf.