Chocolate Banana Bread

Image Courtesy Sunset Magazine

I'm a very fortunate gal to have visited "the ranch" last year. Rancho la Puerta is the most amazing camp for grown ups. Of course, it's better known as a fitness spa, but let's face it...your typical spa does not offer morning hikes to an organic farm, craft workshops, drumming, Feldenkrais, and bingo night. From their own PR materials,

"We make healthy people healthier! You’ll return home stronger, with the healthful glow and spring in your step that comes from a vacation devoted to relaxation, good eating, learning, and exercise."

This is true, true, true. I've never been so genuinely blissed out and upon return, my skin actually DID glow! Erased quickly in a whirlwind of work-kids-reality. Sigh. Another time? You bet. After we sell our first born...

Okay, let's break it down. It's all about creating a healthful balance in our lives. Exercise, Healthful/Mindful Eating, Meditation/Spirituality/Reflection. La la la la la. Good. Now, one thing I love to implement is healthful eating! Cheers to any and all of the great recipes that come from that fabulous kitchen. This is a new staple in our house, and I hope you enjoy it too.

P.S. I have to get judgy here for a minute. A woman posted this on her blog, and KILLED the recipe by ADDING a bunch of sugar (both white and brown!) "because it wasn't sweet enough". Trust me, it doesn't need it!


Time: 1 1/2 hours, plus at least 1 hour to cool.

From Sunset Magazine:

This dense, moist bread, served to morning hikers at La Cocina Que Canta, tastes so chocolaty that you'd never guess it's made with prune purée instead of butter. It's adapted from Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta by Deborah Szekely and Deborah M. Schneider.


Makes 1 loaf (20 slices)


  • 12 ounces pitted prunes
  • 3/4 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 medium)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour or whole-wheat pastry flour (or 1/2 cup of each)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup banana chips, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. In a small saucepan, bring prunes and 2 cups water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until prunes are very soft, about 20 minutes. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 5- by 9-in. loaf pan and line bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit.

3. In a food processor, whirl prunes and bananas until very smooth. Add eggs and whirl to combine.

4. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda. Stir in banana mixture until evenly moistened. Stir in nuts, banana chips, and chocolate chips. Scrape the thick batter into pan and spread level.

5. Bake bread until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out a little chocolaty but not gooey, 45 to 50 minutes. Loosen bread from pan with a knife and invert onto a rack. Remove parchment. Turn bread right side up and let cool at least 1 hour before slicing.

Shortcut: Substitute 12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) unsweetened prune baby food for the pitted prunes, and omit water and cooking in step 1.

Nutritional Information

Nutritional analysis is per slice.
Calories:174 (41% from fat)
Fat:7.9g (sat 2.7)
Carbohydrate: 27g

Deborah Szekely and Deborah M. Schneider, Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta, Sunset, FEBRUARY 2009