Banana Nutella Bread

If you love rich banana flavor and a dessert that’s full of chocolatey flavor then Banana Nutella Bread is the dessert for you!

Banana Nutella Bread for dessert

It just so happens that chocolate and banana are a heavenly match; the addition of Nutella takes this banana bread to a new level!
If you’re looking for intense banana flavor then very ripe bananas are an absolute must. Microwave the bananas a few minutes, drain off the liquid and then simmer until it’s reduced by half.  You’ll end up with a wonderfully intense banana flavor.
It’ll be hard to resist eating this banana nutella bread as soon as it pops out of the oven, but it’s better to serve it a day or two later to give the flavors a chance to enrich still further!

Ingredients

Butter, softened, 85 grams (3 ounces)
Brown sugar, dark, 150 grams (5 1/4 ounces)
Eggs, 2 large
Bananas, (very ripe & black, about six), peeled, 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds)
Cream, 78 milliliters (1/3 cup)
Flour, 240 grams (8 1/2 ounces)
Baking soda, 1 teaspoon
Baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon
Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
Nutella, about 1 – 1 1/2 cups

Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).
Line a 21.5 x 11.5 centimeter (8.5 x 4.5 inch) loaf pan with oven paper.
Reserve one banana to top the bread and mash the remaining bananas together.
Cook the bananas in a microwave oven on high for five minutes, in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap, into which you’ve cut several slits.
Use a fine mesh strainer to drain and reserve the banana liquid from the pulp for about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.
Set the pulp aside.
Simmer the banana liquid for about fifteen minutes until the liquid is reduced by half.
Add the liquid back to the banana pulp.
Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar together.
Add the eggs, cream and bananas and mix for 30 seconds on medium.
Stir the dry ingredients together, then add to the mixer and combine just until fully incorporated.
Pour 1/3 of the batter into the loaf pan.
Using two spoons, dollop Nutella onto the batter. Dollops should be grape-sized; about 6 to 9 dollops per layer.

Banana Nutella Bread for dessert
Add another third of the batter, and repeat with the Nutella dollops.
Add the remainder of the batter and again Nutella dollops.
Slice the reserved banana in half lengthwise and place on top of the banana Nutella bread.
Bake for thirty minutes, then lower the temperature to 175°C (350°F) and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.
Cool thoroughly before removing from the loaf pan.
Serve immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap to freeze or serve the following day.

Delicious Banana Nutella Bread

Banana Nutella Bread
Print

Banana Nutella Bread

Chocolate and banana are a heavenly match; the addition of Nutella takes this banana bread to a new level! Very ripe bananas are an absolute must; reducing the banana liquid in half enriches the banana flavor still further. It'll be hard to resist eating this bread as soon as it pops out of the oven, but serving it a day or two later gives the flavors a chance to enrich still further!
Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces Butter softened, 85 grams
  • 5 1/4 ounces Brown sugar dark, 150 grams
  • 2 Eggs large
  • 2.2 pounds Bananas very ripe & black, about six, peeled, 1 kilogram
  • 1/3 cup Cream 78 milliliters
  • 8 1/2 ounces Flour 240 grams
  • 1 teaspoon Baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/2 cup Nutella

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).
  2. Line a 21.5 x 11.5 centimeter (8.5 x 4.5 inch) loaf pan with oven paper.
  3. Reserve one banana to top the bread and mash the remaining bananas together.
  4. Cook the bananas in a microwave oven on high for five minutes, in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap, into which you've cut several slits.
  5. Use a fine mesh strainer to drain and reserve the banana liquid from the pulp for about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Set the pulp aside.
  7. Simmer the banana liquid for about fifteen minutes until the liquid is reduced by half.
  8. Add the liquid back to the banana pulp.
  9. Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar together.
  10. Add the eggs, cream and bananas and mix for 30 seconds on medium.
  11. Stir the dry ingredients together, then add to the mixer and combine just until fully incorporated.
  12. Pour 1/3 of the batter into the loaf pan.
  13. Using two spoons, dollop Nutella onto the batter. Dollops should be grape-sized; about 6 to 9 dollops.
    Banana Nutella Bread for dessert
  14. Add another third of the batter, and repeat with the Nutella dollops.
  15. Add the remainder of the batter and again Nutella dollops.
  16. Slice the reserved banana in half lengthwise and place on top of the banana bread.
  17. Bake for thirty minutes, then lower the temperature to 175°C (350°F) and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.
  18. Cool thoroughly before removing from the loaf pan.
  19. Serve immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap to freeze or serve the following day.
    Delicious Banana Nutella Bread

Santa Cecilia Basilica in Trastevere

Visitors to Trastevere usually approach the neighborhood from the Ponte Sisto footbridge. It’s a natural thing to do after a walk through Rome’s centro storico. The area is full of people and bustling with life within its many shops, bars and restaurants. And yet if you head just a bit further along the lungotevere to the Tiber Island you’ll reach a very different and thoroughly charming part of Trastevere.

Here you’ll find one of Rome’s often overlooked jewels: the 5th century Santa Cecilia Basilica in Trastevere. The splendid basilica is steeped in layers of history! Although not generally open to the public the basilica has a spectacular underground area including an exquisite crypt and an ancient baptismal area.

Exquisite crypt area within the Basilica Santa Cecilia Trastevere

Our visit to Santa Cecilia Basilica took us down to visit the excavated area under the church, parts of which date back to the second century. Here we saw the ancient baptismal, the remains of thermal baths and the excavations of Roman houses, one of which belonged to Cecilia and her family.

Underground ancient baptismal area within the Basilica Santa Cecilia Trastevere

From the underground baptismal area a long, narrow tunnel leads into the exquisite crypt decorated in cosmatesque style. Frescoes and mosaics intricately decorate the walls, ceilings and columns of the crypt. It’s also noteworthy as it contains the relics of Santa Cecilia and her husband San Valeriano. In the apse of the crypt you see the remains of an altar with an inscription by Pope Gregory VII and his June 1080 dedication…nearly a thousand years ago!

Beautifully frescoed underground crypt area within the Basilica Santa Cecilia Trastevere

The Santa Cecilia Basilica is located in  Trastevere, near the Tiber Island. The basilica is enclosed with a wall that opens up to a lovely courtyard. It’s decorated with ancient mosaics and beautiful columns, and a central cantharus, or water vessel.

The church façade was built in 1725 by Ferdinando Fuga. Its decoration includes the coat of arms and dedication to the titular cardinal who paid for the facade, Francesco Cardinal Acquaviva d’Aragona.

The church’s impressive medieval bell tower is from the 1100’s.

Basilica Santa Cecilia Trastevere facade

The church facade is lovely, and particularly the intricate decor on the portico columns.

Basilica Santa Cecilia Trastevere portico column decor

The basilica interior is breathtaking and the most outstanding feature is its 9th century mosaic in the apse above the choir. The mosaic shows Christ as the central figure. In his left hand he holds a scroll, symbolic of knowledge. His right hand, with three fingers pointing upwards, signifies the Holy Trinity. Above Christ’s head you see a phoenix, the symbol of everlasting life. To Christ’s left are Saint Paul and Saint Agatha. To Christ’s right are Saint Peter holding his keys, along with Santa Cecilia and her husband San Valeriano.

The gorgeous ciborium or baldachin is by the late 13th century sculptor and architect Arnolfo di Cambio. He is also responsible for the exquisite ciborium found in San Paolo Fuori le Mura.

Basilica Santa Cecilia Trastevere, 9th century mosaic in the apse above the choir

Basilica Santa Cecilia Trastevere, 9th century mosaic in the apse above the choir

The nave ceiling vault shows the Coronation of Santa Cecilia, painted by Sebastiano Conca around 1727.

Basilica Santa Cecilia nave ceiling vault shows the Coronation of St Cecilia in Heaven and was painted by Sebastiano Conca around 1727.

Santa Cecilia was a 3rd century noblewoman from a wealthy senatorial family. From a very young age she took a vow of virginity and pledged herself to God. Despite this her parents married her off, and shortly thereafter Santa Cecilia converted her husband San Valeriano to Christianity. Both became martyrs for refusing to worship Roman gods. An attempt to put Santa Cecilia to death by suffocation in the caldarium was unsuccessful and after several days she was still alive. At this point an executioner was sent to decapitate Cecilia yet even after three strikes of the axe she remained alive. She finally died several days later from the axe wounds.

On Santa Cecilia’s wedding day she supposedly sang heavenly music in her heart as a vow to God. Because of this Cecilia became the patron saint of musicians. The Santa Cecilia feast day is November 22nd. Artistic representations of Santa Cecilia often depict her holding an organ or organ-pipes. A Guido Reni painting in the Bril Chapel of the basilica shows her holding a violin. Many musical compositions are dedicated to Santa Cecilia and Rome’s major concert hall is named after her.

Just in front of the choir is a moving marble sculpture of Santa Cecilia, sculpted by Carlo Maderno. This is Maderno’s master work and it portrays Cecilia just as she was found in 1599 after her exhumation from the Catacombs of San Callisto. Her body lays on its side and her head faces downwards. Santa Cecilia is extending two fingers on her right hand and one on her left symbolizing the Holy Trinity.

Marble sculpture of Santa Cecilia, sculpted by Carlo Maderno

There are a number of beautiful side chapels within the Santa Cecilia Basilica that are also generally not open to the public. This sculpture panel is located in a lateral chapel of the Basilica di Santa Cecilia.

Sculpture panel from a lateral chapel of the Basilica Santa Cecilia

This fresco by neapolitan painter Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73) is one of the only surviving paintings he produced.

One of Luigi Vanvitelli's only surviving works, the fresco Angels Musicians, located in the Basilica Santa Cecilia vault

In the Cappella Ponziani you’ll find Roman Renaissance jewels like this fresco by Pinturicchio, representing the Holy Father and the evangelists. It was painted between 1485 and 1490.

In the Santa Cecilia Basilica's Cappella Ponziani are frescoes by Pinturicchio, painted between 1485 and 1490

The Santa Cecilia Basilica’s Bril Chapel was frescoed by Flemish painter Paul Bril in 1512 and 1513. The chapel is just above the ancient Domus that contained the frigidarium, tepidarium and caldarium. There are also two Guido Reni paintings in this chapel.

Paul Brill frescoes in the Basilica Santa Cecilia Trastevere

Paul Brill frescoes in the Basilica Santa Cecilia Trastevere

After your visit to the basilica you may feel like a meal! There are many bars and restaurants right near the Santa Cecilia Basilica and one I would suggest is Antica Trattoria da Carlone. Da Carlone is just a four minutes walk from the basilica to Via della Luce, 5. (Tel. 580-0039). Here you can enjoy genuine Roman cuisine at reasonable prices. Be careful: the portions are enormous! Whichever pasta dish you choose (I highly recommend the Carbonara or Cacio e Pepe) only get one order for two to three people. If artichokes are in season be sure to order either the Carciofi all Giulia or Carciofi all Romana. Very few tourists eat at Da Carlone which makes it all the more enjoyable!

Deep fried artichokes are positively scrumptious!

If you don’t mind straying further afield then it’s worth your while to take a 22 minute walk to family-owned and operated La Tavernaccia. You can’t go wrong with anything you order here: delicious pizza, pasta, main courses and deserts. The wine list is great as is the atmosphere! It’s a simple walk: Make your way to Via di San Michele and turn left when you reach Piazza di Porta Portese. Turn right onto Via Portuense and after a kilometer continue onto Via Ettore Rolli. At Via Panfilo Castaldi go left, then right onto Via Giovanni da Castel Bolognese until you reach the restaurant at #63.

 

 

 

Tiramisù!

I’ve come to love tiramisù now that I’ve fine tuned my recipe to exactly suit my taste. The key to great tiramisù is to use mascarpone, and to beat the eggs until they’re cloud-fluffy. Of course good espresso and high quality Marsala wine are a given!

You can chill tiramisù in a large serving dish but I prefer to chill it in individual dishes. Be creative: wine glasses, champagne glasses or just about any kind of dish will work great.

Tiramisù Dessert

Tiramisù, meaning pick me up, is a relatively new Italian dessert that dates bake to the early 1970’s. It was first made in Le Beccherie restaurant in Treviso. The restaurant still exists today and is still making tiramisù.

Tiramisù

Ingredients:

For the coffee dip:
1 1/2 Cups (360 ml) espresso coffee
1 Tsp sugar
3/8 Cup (90 ml) Marsala wine

For the filling:
5 eggs, beaten
100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
250 grams (8 ounces) Mascarpone
For the biscuit layers:
300 grams (10 1/2 ounces) Savoiardi biscuits (about 40 to 45)
Unsweetened cocoa powder

Procedure:

For the coffee dip:
Dissolve the sugar in the coffee and stir in the Marsala wine.

For the filling:
Beat the eggs until fluffy.
Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
Whisk in the Mascarpone by the spoonful.

For the biscuit layers:
Dip about a third of the Savoiardi (or lady fingers) in the coffee dip. Line the bottom of a serving dish with the Savoiardi. The dish should measure about 12 x 8 inches (30 x 20 cm), and be about 2 inches deep (4 cm ).

Tiramisù Dessert
Gently spread the filling over the Savoiardi. Repeat this process, ending with a layer of filling on top.
Sprinkle the tiramisù lightly with the cocoa powder.
Chill several hours, and serve.

Tiramisù Dessert
Print

Tiramisù

Tiramisù, meaning pick me up, is a relatively new Italian dessert that dates bake to the early 1970's. It was first made in Le Beccherie restaurant in Treviso. The restaurant still exists today and is still making tiramisù.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours

Ingredients

For the coffee dip:

  • 1 1/2 cups espresso coffee
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/8 cup (90 mMarsala wine

For the filling:

  • 5 eggs beaten
  • 3 1/2 ounces sugar 100 grams
  • 8 ounces Mascarpone 250 grams

For the biscuit layers:

  • 10 1/2 ounces Savoiardi biscuits 300 grams, about 40 to 45
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions

For the coffee dip:

  1. Dissolve the sugar in the coffee and stir in the Marsala wine.

For the filling:

  1. Beat the eggs until fluffy.
  2. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Whisk in the Mascarpone by the spoonful.

For the biscuit layers:

  1. Dip about a third of the Savoiardi (or lady fingers) into the coffee dip. 

  2. Line the bottom of a serving dish with the Savoiardi. The dish should measure about 12 x 8 inches (30 x 20 cm), and be about 2 inches deep (4 cm ).
  3. Gently spread the filling over the Savoiardi. Repeat this process, ending with a layer of filling on top.
  4. Sprinkle the tiramisù lightly with the cocoa powder.
  5. Chill several hours, and serve.
    Tiramisù Dessert

 

 

I've come to love tiramisù now that I've fine tuned my recipe to exactly suit my taste. The key to great tiramisù is to use mascarpone, and to beat the eggs until cloud-fluffy

Italian Cocktails, Mocktails & Liqueurs

Aperol Spritz Cocktail

Italian cocktails and mocktails are frequently low alcohol content and often with a hint of bitter flavor. This is changing with globalization. Italian cocktails and mocktails are now beginning to take on an international flare and resemble those you’d see in the United States and elsewhere. I far prefer the classic Italian cocktails and mocktails that Italians have…

Lemon Poundcake Drizzled with Lemon Glaze

Lemon Poundcake Drizzled with Lemon Glaze Our lemon tree is bursting with lemons and this is no exaggeration. I haven’t counted them but there are hundreds of beautiful lemons. We leave them on the tree all winter long and pick them as we need them each day: for salad dressings and the like. Let’s face it…

Academy of Saint Luke, within the Palazzo Carpegna

Academy of Saint Luke courtyard sculpture

How many times have you walked right by the Academy of Saint Luke (Accademia di San Luca) on your way to visit the nearby Fontana di Trevi and never even noticed it? My guess is many. The next time you’re in the area add the Academy of Saint Luke to your itinerary. It’s an often overlooked jewel…

Palazzo Caetani and the Isola Mattei, a virtual tour

Grand Salotto Palazzo Caetani

The Palazzo Caetani was one of the great sixteenth century palazzi in Rome. Originally one of a group of palazzi belonging to the powerful Mattei family, it occupied an entire city block on the edge of Largo Argentina. This block is known as the Isola Mattei, or Mattei Island. The Mattei began as rich merchants and over time evolved into…

Homemade pasta: easy and fun to make!

Making homemde pasta

No dish is more quintessentially Italian than homemade pasta. It can be long, short, filled or cut small to use in soup. There are also pastas that use a variety of whole grain flours, water instead of eggs, or hot water and butter instead of eggs. Despite innumerable variations, this classic homemade pasta recipe is perfect as the…