Royal Banana Chocolate Bread

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The royal part of this quick bread is the fact that it is the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle’s, recipe.

The story goes that when she and her husband, Prince Harry, visited Australia in October of 2018, Her Royal Highness baked the now-famous banana bread in the kitchen of Admiralty House in Sydney. It was after a long day of engagements, well into her pregnancy.

To quote google, “As if juggling pregnancy, jetlag and 16 days of speeches, meetings and handshaking with Prince Harry wasn’t enough, the Duchess took it upon herself to make homemade banana bread for morning tea.”

Okay, well I think most of us who’ve been pregnant could have managed all of this and more, but whatever….

The bread isn’t just your ordinary loaf. It has crystallized ginger, chocolate chips, and, as the Duchess put it, “too many bananas.”

The recipe might not be the exact recipe of HRH, because I saw many versions online, some containing walnuts, maple syrup, and cinnamon, but the bread has indeed become famous.

This is the recipe that my sister has always used, and she highly recommends it. Me? I hadn’t even heard of HRH’s banana bread. But it is good!

Royal Banana Chocolate Bread

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated ginger*
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 5″ loaf pan with butter; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the mashed bananas, melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth and evenly combined.

Add the grated ginger, flour, baking soda and salt. Stir just until combined with no dry spots. Stir in the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes, or until bread has risen, is golden brown, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.


Remove the bread from the loaf pan and let cool completely at room temperature before slicing and serving.

* Instead of fresh ginger I opted for 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger. I was worried that I couldn’t smoosh and properly disperse the fresh ginger.

The banana bread is very good, and somewhat unique. I’m glad I used the ground ginger.

I had to try it warmed with butter, although the bread itself is moist.

It’s certainly pleasing enough to be not only a snack but a dessert.


HRH the Duchess obviously has a loving heart and great sense of community, because she helped compile a cookbook, entitled Together: Our Community Cookbook, published in September of 2018 and not yet available in the states. Proceeds benefit the Hubb Community Kitchen, located in London.

Quoting google, “The Hubb Community Kitchen is a group of women who have come together to prepare fresh food for their local community. After being displaced following the Grenfell tower fire, some of the local women needed a place to cook fresh food for their families.”

Colpa Degno Cookies

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There is a lovely restaurant called Powder that I take my mother to when I visit. It helps that it’s close to where she lives, because if I visit at any time between October and May, who knows how much snow I have to contend with getting anywhere not close.

My mother lives in Park City, Utah, which is known for its powder-like snow, thus the name of the restaurant. The restaurant is in the Waldorf Astoria, which doesn’t really seem to fit in my mind with the quaintness of Park City. The Waldorf makes me think of New York City for some reason.

In any case, when I last visited Mom in December, we dined at Powder and luckily didn’t have to deal with a blizzard.

The food has always been superb there, and the service slow but good. It seems like we have always ordered their charcuterie and cheese platter to start. Here are three of them I happened to document.

The first hurdle is always my mother fainting over how the waiter pronounces charcuterie. Being French, it’s still hard for her, even after 65 years of living in the U.S., to hear French words mis-pronounced. I’ve given up trying to convince her that charcuterie is a difficult word for Americans to say.

Also being French, my mother has a daily chocolate requirement, or at least enjoys a sweet after lunch. So after our cheese and you-know-what goodies, including an outstanding paté, we perused Powder’s dessert menu.

I ordered the Chocolate Dirt Pudding, but without the mint ice cream. She thought it would be too rich, like that’s ever stopped her!

This is what it looked like, after we both attacked it like we were starving. Not the prettiest dessert, but the black cherry fudge sauce was indescribable. Neither of us tasted the cherry part, interestingly enough, but it didn’t matter. The sauce, which was really a pudding, was fabulous.

After getting back home, I looked into Colpa Degno cookies, which were the crumbled “dirt” on the pudding. Turns out the name roughly translates to “worth the guilt.”

From Food52: Created by Megan Fitzroy Phelan, currently an owner of Richmond, Virginia’s lauded Longoven restaurant, and formerly a Sullivan Street pastry chef, these cookies are small and addictive and so delightful that they are well worth any remorse you might feel from eating a half dozen or so.

The actual cookie recipe is in this book:

I’m not much of a cookie or dessert maker, but I really wanted to recreate the dessert, including the mint ice cream, for my husband’s birthday. He loves chocolate and mint together, and he deserves a sin-worthy treat! And it all started with my making Colpa Degno.

Colpa Degno Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies

1 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 scant cup (40 g) unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Whites from 2 large eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (100 g) milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup (100 g) dark chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt with a fork in a medium bowl to combine.


Whisk together the egg whites and the vanilla with a fork in a small bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg whites; stir the mixture with the fork until it just begins to come together.

Add the chocolates and stir until well combined. The dough will be extremely sticky and as dark as black licorice.

At the bakery, we use a #60 scoop (like a small ice cream scoop) to scoop and ball these, but an ordinary 1 tablespoon measuring spoon works well too.

Pack the batter into the spoon by squashing and dragging the spoon against the inside of the bowl to make sure the rounds of dough are tight and compact – if the dough is too loosely packed, the cookies tend to really spread out and separate as they bake.


Place the rounds of dough on the parchment-lined cookie sheet a good 3” apart and bake for about 12 minutes or until the tops are glossy and set.

When the cookies are done, they will be quite gooey, but they will continue to cook as they cool.

Once they’ve cooled off enough to eat, they should be soft and chewy – if they’re hard or crisp, they’ve baked too much.


Cool the cookies on the paper, set on a wire rack, for 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Serve these cookies the day they are made.

Sneak preview to next post!

Christmas Logs

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This recipe is from Charlie’s blog called Hotly Spiced. I’ve been saving it for a year or so, and finally decided to make these sweets, originally called Mum’s Christmas Whiskey Logs. And if you haven’t become a fan of Australian Charlie and her blog, you need to. She’s very funny, and a great storyteller. She also somehow gets away with telling stories about her kids on her blog!

So on Christmas eve, just days ago, I realized I didn’t have any plans for a dessert – a cake, pie, or some kind of sweet treat. We’re not a serious sweets family, so I tend to forget about such things. Instead I had about 30 pounds of cheese in my refrigerator.

I did post on Nigella’s Christmas rocky road bars recently, but that was a re-post from last year. So these quick and easy Christmas logs from Charlie were a perfect choice!

The recipe for the base of the logs is very similar to my ginger spice truffle balls – butter and gingerbread cookie crumbs mixed with goodies and chilled. In fact, the recipe for this “dough” could be made into balls as well. But Charlie’s mum coats the logs in chocolate, which is a lovely addition, and the log slices quite pretty and festive.

The only change I made is the whiskey. None of us is a huge whiskey fan in our family, except for my son-in-law. We’ve tried, mind you. We even visited the famous distilleries in Scotland and Ireland. But it’s hard for me to even smell the stuff. So, I opted for spiced rum. No huge change.

So thank you, Charlie’s mum, for this recipe. I love that it can be changed up with various fruits and chocolates, crystallized ginger, and even nuts, if desired. I’ve typed the recipe as it is on her blog. Cheers!

Mum’s Christmas Whiskey Logs
from Hotly Spiced

400 grams plain biscuits (I used shortbread cookies)
125 grams butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
1 large egg
1/2 cup whiskey, I used spiced rum
200 grams dried fruit, I used 150 grams of dried cranberries
100 grams chocolate chips* (I used 150 grams chocolate chips)
100 grams glaceed cherries, halved
200 grams dark chocolate**, I could only find semi-sweet

Crush biscuits and set aside. I used a food processor for this step.

Beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy.
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Add the egg and beat until smooth.

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Add the whiskey/rum and beat slightly.
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Then add the chocolate and fruit mixture.
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Then add the processed cookies.
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Using a wooden spoon, mix everything together.
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Get out 6 pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper.

Place approximately 1/6 of the batter onto a piece of plastic wrap.
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Work it, using both sides of the plastic wrap, until a log shape is formed, and roll up, sealing the ends.
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Continue with the rest of the batter, and refrigerate the logs overnight, or at least for four hours. They should be cold and firm before continuing with the recipe. You should have 6 logs, each approximately 6″ long.

This is what the logs looked like before I coated them with chocolate.

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Place chocolate in a double boiler, and slowly melt it. I remember reading in a cookbook once, perhaps one by Alice Medrich, that you’re not trying to cook the chocolate, simply melt it. Words to live by.

Then however is easiest for you, somehow spread the melted chocolate on the logs. Charlie suggests that it’s best to do one “side” of the logs, refrigerate them for a bit, then do the other side.

Now, Charlie and her Mum must be chocolatiers, because I had a horrible time doing this. You can tell in the following photo.

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And also, I would recommend twice the amount of chocolate for this last part. There were two logs that I wasn’t able to coat in chocolate at all.

Once the logs are refrigerated well, remove them from the fridge, trim the ends, unless yours look nice, and make slices, approximately 1/4″ wide, for serving.
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The chocolate kept breaking off in pieces as well when I was slicing the logs.

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But I have to say, they were very popular.

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The next time I might turn the “dough” into balls, and dip them in chocolate, because the chocolate really does add something to these treats!

*Mini chocolate chips might be smarter; they would aid in neater slicing of the logs.
**Unless you’re really good working with chocolate, I would suggest 400 grams of chocolate.

Strawberry Blondies

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I don’t want to jinx this, but I think we may have found a handyman. This man, who is not only talented in the areas of carpentry and finishing work, is also nice and polite. But most importantly, he might single handedly keep our old house from falling down around us.

We have a list a mile long of things that have to be done to our house and property, and we’ve only lived in this house for nine years. Neither my husband nor I are skilled at working with cement, wood, or even paint. We probably shouldn’t even own a house – we should have a landlord. I’ve teased my husband for not knowing which end of a hammer to use, but honestly, I’m no better at home repair than he is.

Our house was built in 1927. It’s a beautiful house – a half-timbered English tudor. The man who built my house and the two large, neighboring homes was a wealthy oil man. An interesting note is that the homes on both sides of us were built for the man’s two daughters, and ours was built for the caretaker of the properties!

Like many homes in the U.S. that were built with money in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, there was a lot of European influence in the design details. Features like a carved travertine fireplace mantel, distressed wooden beams on the ceiling, arched doorways, and a winding, wooden staircase railing make this house unique. But historic or not, stuff happens to houses as they age.

As is typical with every town and city in this nation, I’m convinced, it’s nearly impossible to get people to work. You call – no one answers. You leave a message – they don’t return the call. They say they’ll come out – they don’t. They say they will work – and you never see them again. And so forth. I think everyone I talk to thinks they’re the only one to whom this happens. But it’s rampant.

Then we found this guy. Our guy, who shall remain nameless, has worked at our house for about two weeks. He’s even been up on the roof finding holes, which would explain the water damage on our walls. He didn’t even mind emptying all of the gutters, which were full. He also took the initiative to tell us about certain things that would be problematic in the near future. And, he takes iphone photos to prove it. I like that. Especially since neither my hubs or I will get up on the roof.

Now I’m not telling you all of this to make you jealous. Besides, we’re overdue for this kind of help! It’s just that I wanted to do something nice for this man, because I appreciate his hard work.

Somehow strawberry blondies came to mind. The guy probably needs a good chicken dinner (he’s had a lot of bad luck recently), but hopefully he’ll enjoy these. Sweets seem to make everyone happy.

I’ve seen a recipe before for strawberry blondies, but it used strawberry jam. Ick. Maybe in the winter? Because it’s strawberry season, albeit a late one, I thought I’d make these blondies with fresh strawberries. I also included white chocolate chips.

For those of you who don’t know what blondies are, like my husband, they are the non-chocolate version of brownies. Here’s the recipe.

Strawberry White Chocolate Blondies

6 ounces sliced strawberries
2 teaspoons white sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, not packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup white chocolate chips, about 4 3/4 ounces
2 teaspoon raw of turbinado sugar, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Grease or butter an 8″ square baking dish.

Place the sliced strawberries in a bowl and toss them gently with the sugar; set aside.
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In a medium bowl, combine the soft butter and brown sugar. Beat them together with an electric mixer until they mixture is smooth.

Add the eggs and vanilla extract together in a small bowl.

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Add to the sugar-butter mixture and beat for about 5 minutes.

Add about 1/2 cup of the flour and mix slowly to combine; don’t overmix. Then switch to a spatula and fold in the remaining flour , salt, and the baking powder.

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Then fold in the strawberries and chocolate chips, but leave a few pretty strawberry slices for the top of the blondies. Place the blondie batter in the greased baking dish, and smooth the top and fill in the corners.
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Use the few strawberry slices to place on top, pushing in a bit, so that they cook within the batter.

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Place the baking dish in the oven and cook them for 30 minutes. If the top of the blondies still look a little doughy, turn off the oven and leave them in the oven for five more minutes.

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Remove the blondies from the oven and let them rest for at 30 minutes. Carefully slice and remove them from the pan, then cut them into eight squares. Serve them warm or at room temperature.

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They even make a nice breakfast treat!

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verdict: Well, even though I was giving these away, I had to sample them since I had made up the recipe, and you know what? They’re darn good! And pretty, too! If I’d been smart, I’d have saved 8 slices of strawberries so that each square had it’s own pretty slice on top, like this one. Maybe next time!

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