One way to sweeten the deal

If you want a good reason to become a decent baker, I will reveal to you the No. 1 secret purpose in developing the skill: bribery.

Good, old-fashioned, wholesome bribery, of course, but bribery nonetheless.

It?s amazing what people will do to help you out if you offer them baked goods in return.

It?s such an effective strategy that I?ve begun to employ it regularly when trying to recruit judges for my league and state debate and forensics tournaments.

As a coach, it?s my job to find qualified judges for every post-season tournament we attend, and it can be tough to find folks who are willing to come help me out.

Recently, a former student of mine agreed to come judge for me for our weekday league forensics tournament. I promised him a hug and some baked goods, and while he said he was really in it for the hug, I suspect the loaf of chocolate banana bread I handed him didn?t hurt.

This recipe comes from the blog ?Evil Shenanigans,? which is written by Kelly Jaggers. She claims that her recipes taste good but aren?t great for your waistline, which I suspect is where she gets the name for her blog. You can find the original at http://www.evilshenanigans.com/2011/03/chocolate-banana-bread/. I changed things up just slightly.

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Chocolate Banana Bread

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup oil (I used vegetable)

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 egg yolk

3 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup very strong coffee, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the sugar and oil until well-incorporated. Add the eggs and egg yolk and bananas and mix well. Sift together all of the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add coffee and vanilla and make sure everything is well-incorporated.

Pour the batter into a 10-inch bread pan spayed with cooking oil or into several mini-loaf pans (I actually split mine between two 10-inch pans, and it created two loaves that were about 21?2 inches tall).

Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes for a large loaf or 35 to 40 minutes for smaller loaves or until the center springs back when you gently press it.

Let cool and remove from pan(s).

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If you have some bribing to do, I suggest giving this recipe a try, and even if you don?t, you might want to make some anyway. It?s a good idea to taste test those bribes ahead of time.