Peanut, Banana, and Caramel Brownies

I would be exaggerating if I said my favourite thing about our trip to Seville was the peanut, banana, and toffee brownie I ate at Regadera. But it was definitely among my top five favourite things of the holiday. That and the kitten we met. And, uh, the architecture. Obviously.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to recreate it exactly at home. Part of the joy of that particular dessert was delivered in the form of an incredible banana ice cream, and I don’t have an ice cream maker. But I couldn’t get the idea of a peanut, banana, and caramel brownie out of my head. Yes, it seemed like a lot of ingredients to throw at a brownie. But I know that chocolate and banana are good together. And that banana and peanut butter are good together. And that banana and caramel are good together. I mean, it at least didn’t seem like a terrible idea.


I’ve made chocolate banana bread many times before, so I was hoping that the bananas in brownies idea would work in a similar way – that the bananas would make the brownies even more moist, dense, and fudgy. And, happily, this is exactly what they did.

These brownies are undoubtedly a bit much for some people. There are plenty of purists who like their brownies plain, perhaps with one addition if they’re going wild. But, as you might be able to tell if you’ve read this blog at all, I’m not really one of those people.



If this is all a bit much for you, you could skip out one of the peanut/banana/caramel triumvirate. But I promise it’s tasty.

Brownies keep really excellently well in the freezer. You can make a batch, cut them, freeze them, then whip one out and microwave it for thirty seconds every time the brownie urge strikes.


200g 70% dark chocolate
140g butter
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g plain flour
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
100g roasted peanuts
3 tbsp peanut butter
5 tbsp salted caramel (buy in a jar or make your own)


  1. Break your chocolate into pieces and chop your butter into rough cubes and place them both in a glass or metal bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Leave them to melt, stirring occasionally. Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a 20x20cm square tin.
  2. When your chocolate and butter have completely melted, beat in your sugar (I use an electric hand whisk), followed by your eggs. Add your flour to the mixture and beat that in too. Mix in your bananas, then stir through your peanuts and peanut butter.
  3. Pour the mixture into the tin, smooth the surface, and then dollop your salted caramel on top of the batter and swirl it around with a knife or skewer. Bake for around 25 mins – the salted caramel will sit in a liquidy way on top of the batter and make you think the brownies are not done, but they will firm as they cool.
  4. Normally I advocate eating brownies warm from the pan, and while you absolutely can do that here, they will be very gooey. If I need to slice these neatly or take them anywhere I normally let them chill and firm in the fridge for a couple of hours first.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

It’s very weird that it’s taken me so long to post this recipe, because this chocolate banana bread is the thing I bake more often than anything else. Even more than brownies. James’s work snack of choice is banana bread, and every couple of weeks I made a this loaf, slice it up, and freeze it so that he can take a piece out every morning. I actually buy more bananas than I know we can eat for the purpose of letting some of them go past their best in order to turn them into banana bread. I fear I am missing the point of fruit.


Banana bread has sort of gained an unearned reputation for being a healthier choice. I do have a recipe for spelt banana bread which is sort of ‘healthy’ (as it uses spelt and wholemeal flours, greek yoghurt, and maple syrup, rather than white flours and caster sugar) but it’s still, inescapably, cake. Banana bread, you guys, is cake. Let’s not be fooled by the fruit contained within and the sober sounding ‘bread’ in the title. Baking it in a bread tin does not make it bread. It’s no more virtuous than a Victoria sponge. Especially not when you do what I have done here and stuff it with chocolate. But why wouldn’t you? It’s so tasty.


It is a delight of a cake. It’s moist, decadent, and full of flavour. It’s very easy to make, and would be a fun, simple one to do with kids. It keeps beautifully, even if you don’t freeze it. You can make it with whatever chocolate you like, or mix it up and add nuts. None of the ingredients are obscure. I’ve drizzled the pictured banana bread with melted white chocolate, but this step could certainly be skipped.

You could even keep up the charade and pretend it’s healthy because it has bananas in it, if it will make you feel better. I won’t tell.


Source: Recipe adapted from the ever-excellent Smitten Kitchen.

Notes: This, and indeed any banana bread, will not work unless your bananas are very ripe. They can be over-ripe, almost completely black-skinned, but they can’t be firm and green.

You can use any type of chocolate for the chunks in the banana bread, but I love baked white chocolate and like the contrast between the dark cake and the pale chocolate here.


3 large ripe bananas
115 grams butter, melted
150 grams light brown soft sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
125 grams plain flour
40g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
100g white chocolate

50g white chocolate for drizzle (optional)


  1. Put your butter on to melt gently. Heat your oven to 170C/ 150C fan/ gas 3. Grease a non-stick loaf tin. Mash your bananas in the bottom of a large bowl – if they are ripe enough, you should just be able to attack them with an electric hand whisk. Whisk in the melted butter, light brown soft sugar, egg, and vanilla. Place a sieve over the bowl and weigh the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into it, then sift them over the wet mixture. Break your 100g chocolate into squares and add to the bowl. Fold everything together until only just combined, but do not mix further.
  2. Pour your batter into your loaf tin and bake for around 40 mins, or until the banana bread is risen, firm, and passes the skewer test. Let cool in the tin for around 20 mins, then turn it out to cool completely (or just cut chunks off and stuff it into your mouth when it’s warm, as I definitely do not do every time). If finishing it with more white chocolate, simply melt the chocolate and drizzle over the cake, then leave to set at room temperature.



Banana, Date, and Nutella Cupcakes

I hadn’t ridden a bike before I came to Oxford, but you can’t really get away with not doing it when you’re living here. When I gave in and finally got my own bike, I was terrified about riding it on roads. Surely this shouldn’t be allowed? Surely some sensible person will stop me doing this? Surely there must be some sort of training to do before I risk my life dodging irate taxis and oblivious tourists?

There is not. No training. The first time I rode a bike on the road I fell off after about three minutes – on a quiet residential street, luckily – and got a cut and a massive bruise which together looked like the Eye of Sauron on my leg. It took weeks to heal and every time I looked at it I felt judged for my poor cycling ability.


Slowly, slowly, things improved. When I first started cycling, I was so afraid of tackling roundabouts that I would simply get off my bike and walk every time I encountered one. Turning right was a minefield of terror. Every time a bus pushed me up to the curb I was convinced that I was about to be crushed.

I still wouldn’t say I like it. I find cycling kind of a drag, to be honest. If it’s raining or you have to carry a lot of things or get somewhere further than five miles away, it’s a hassle. But I’m certainly far more competent and confident than the girl that simply keeled over sideways onto the pavement the first time she tried to cycle on a road.

Now, five years later, I am staring into the face of a cycle commute in London, which is starting at the end of this month. If anyone has any tips for doing this with minimal pain and sacrifice, please do pass them on, because I am mildly terrified.


Dates are one of those things that I never quite ‘got’ for ages. I know that lots of recipes that are raw and sugar free and all natural and so on use dates as a sweetener or a binding agent or something, and say that if you blend them enough they taste just like caramel. You have probably seen by now that this is not at all that sort of blog. However, I am all for using dates in and of themselves.

Notes: As an experiment, to make the cores of these cupcakes I actually froze Nutella in silicone ice cube trays and inserted a frozen lump of chocolatey joy into the centre of each cupcake before baking. However, I don’t think it made a great deal of difference, and it’s a bit of a (delicious) hassle, so in the method here I am recommending you simply core the cupcakes as usual.


for the cakes

2 eggs
180g caster sugar
100ml coconut oil (or whatever oil you like)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large or three medium ripe bananas, mashed
185g plain flour
1 tsp bircarbonate of soda
10 dates (roughly), pitted and chopped into chunks
100g Nutella

for the nutella frosting

50g butter
100g Nutella
100g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder

optional: additional toppings to sprinkle over the cupcakes. These are very soft cakes, so I think something with a bit of crunch works well. I have used chocolate covered little crunchy biscuit pieces, but chopped nuts would also be good.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4, and a line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases. Pop the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes until it starts to thicken. Add the oil and the vanilla extract to the eggs and sugar, and beat until just combined. Mix in the mashed bananas.
  2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together over the top of the wet mixture, and fold it in. Beat the mixture briefly on a low speed to ensure it’s smooth, and finally fold in the dates. Divide between the paper cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cakes are well-risen and pass the skewer test.
  3. When the cupcakes are completely cold, core them. Heat the Nutella in the microwave for 30 seconds to loosen it, and then spoon it into the cupcakes with a teaspoon
  4. Make the buttercream. Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric whisk until smooth and soft, and then beat in the Nutella. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder over the top, and roughly fold it in before beating until smooth. Spoon or pipe the frosting over the cupcakes.

Malt Chocolate Banana Bundt Cake

Do you know what the difference between an introvert and an extrovert is? That sounds like it’s going to be the set up to a joke, but it’s not: I’m actually asking.

I thought I knew, until recently. I had a vague notion that introverts preferred their own company, and were often solitary and shy, while extroverts were confident and social by nature.

It turns out that definition isn’t accurate. Basically, as I understand it, introverts draw their energy from being alone, while extroverts draw their energy from being around people. An introvert, therefore, isn’t necessarily a solitary person sitting in a corner: they could be juggling fire and cracking jokes in the centre of the group while asking you to update them on that saga with your neighbour’s dog and simultaneously getting the drinks in. But not forever. An introvert isn’t likely to be in the last group of determined pub-crawlers, unwilling to stop talking and so trekking around town to find somewhere still open at 3am. An extrovert, on the other hand, thrives on the company of others: they enjoy social time and are likely to be bored by themselves.



I am a classic introvert. Even if I am enjoying an evening with a group of people I genuinely like being around, I can only stick it out for a limited amount of time before becoming socially exhausted. It will sound ridiculous, but was only relatively recently that I realised that this was okay. It took me a worryingly long time to see that it’s actually fine to be the first one to say ‘Right, that’s me! See ya!’, stand up from the table, go through the business of the hugs and farewells, and escape.

I think that our social practices tend to cater to extroverts. There’s a certain kudos to being the one out latest, to being the ‘life and soul’. When you get up to leave early, people sigh and groan and say ‘Oh come on! It’s only 10pm! Stay for one more drink’. But now I know that it’s fine not to. I have a reputation for being the first to leave, the one tucked up in bed while everyone else is contemplating round five and wondering if anywhere serves food at 11pm. I don’t mind being thought of as a bit pathetic: for me, there’s no fun to be had in staying out when all my social energy has been drained, and I know I’m not good company by that stage either.

In keeping with the practice of doing what makes you happy rather than what is expected (as long as what makes you happy isn’t, you know, hurtful to others or illegal), I made this cake.

I picked up this beautiful book, by Annie Rigg, pretty much by accident. I had twenty minutes to kill in town and wandered into the bookshop, and then mooched along to the cookery section, and then casually picked up a book and… I really wasn’t intending to buy anything, but I couldn’t leave it behind.

The book is full of gorgeous, elaborate, modern recipes, and I could have made something much more impressive if I’d had the time and inclination. But this was the cake that was calling me, so even though it wasn’t the healthiest, or the fanciest, or trickiest, I decided to do it anyway.


Source: Summer Berries & Autumn Fruits, by Annie Rigg. It’s great.

Notes: I originally made this cake exactly as it was in the book, only changing the toppings because I wanted something pretty to feed to a group. Although the cake was delicious, I didn’t get the malt chocolate flavour through as strongly as I would have liked, so I have slightly upped the quantities here. Nonetheless, besides some slight alterations and extra toppings, this is very much Annie Rigg’s recipe.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients: you will probably have most of them in the cupboard. In fact, the part of the reason that I chose this cake was that I was short on time and didn’t want to have to go shopping for supplies.


for the cake

200g softened butter, plus extra for greasing
25g cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
260g plain flour
40g malted milk powder (such as Ovaltine)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
125g soft light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
4 medium bananas, very ripe
3 tbsp sour cream, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate, chopped

for the frosting

100g soft light brown sugar
100g dark muscovado sugar
75g butter
125ml double cream
50g dark chocolate, chopped
pinch of salt

extra toppings (optional)

bag of maltesers
1 firm banana
25g white chocolate


  1. Preheat your oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4. Grease a bundt tin with butter and dust with cocoa powder. The recipe suggests a 2.5 litre bundt tin, but I have no idea how big my tins are in litres (!?), and I only have one bundt tin anyway, so I went with that and it was fine. In a large bowl, sieve together the cocoa, flour, malted milk powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt.
  2. In another bowl, cream together your butter and both sugars. Add the beaten egg gradually, mixing until it’s even. Tip your dry ingredients into the bowl with the butter, sugars, and eggs. In the bowl that you were using for the dry mix (no need to wash it), mash the bananas, and then add the sour cream and vanilla and mix to combine. Tip this into the bowl with everything else and mix it all together. Add your chopped chocolate and fold it in.
  3. Pop your mixture into your tin, and bake for 30-40 minutes. Let the cake rest in the tin for two minutes (and no more), and then carefully turn it onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  4. For the frosting, heat both sugars, butter, and cream gently in a saucepan until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved. Simmer for 30 seconds, then remove from the heat and add the chocolate and salt. Stir until smooth, and then pour it gently over your cold cake.
  5. If you want to get overly complicated, like I did, top the cake with dried banana slices, maltesers, and grated white chocolate.

Enjoy a piece on your sofa, alone at 10pm on a Saturday night, reading a good book, watching your favourite TV show, or simply being content in your own company.

(Then probably take the rest of the cake out to share with friends, because it’s huge).