Recipes

Chocolate-banana Shortcake – 1984

Last week, over on Instagram, I asked everyone what they would like me to try next…. unfortunately I couldn’t get everything written out on the poll correctly so the two choices were tomatoed fish or simply chocolate banana. Not very descriptive, that last one, is it? I’ll do better next time around. Despite the uncertainty as to what chocolate banana was, that was the winner, and so that was what I tried out this weekend. I can definitely say I learned a few things along the way, not the least of which was why you don’t beat a batter for four minutes, but we’ll get into that in a minute.

Ingredients on a counter, including mlik, butter, whipped cream, cocoa, Splenda, baking mix, an egg, and a banana.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk baking mix
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
  • 1 banana, sliced*

*Ingredient notes: You may think that this is a small amount of banana compared to the other ingredients. You would be correct. This is the amount needed for four pieces of shortcake, however big you decide to slice them. I guess Betty Crocker assumed you weren’t going to be making enough for more than four servings. Plan accordingly. You’ll also need some flour and oil to prep the pan with.

Now, on to the recipe. Heating the oven to 350° F is the first step, along with prepping a 8×8 pan. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an 8×8 so I made do with my 9×9… should’ve gone with the 7 x 9 oblong, but you live you learn. Anyway, it needs to be greased and floured before we move forward.

a square baking pan that has been greased and floured

Next step is combining everything except for the whipped cream and bananas. And yes, that’s how Betty phrases it, no specifics about mixing dry ingredients or creaming butter and sugar or what have you. So I just kind of mixed the dry ingredients together first because it’s what I’m used to doing.

a mixing bowl filled with flour, sweetener, and cocoa

The ingredients also don’t say whether the butter/margarine needs to be melted, softened, or cut up and added cold a la biscuits. I ended up going with the latter option, but it ended up disappearing completely into the batter anyway once I started mixing so I don’t think it matters if you go the cold or softened route. Melting probably isn’t the best option here. That’s just going to make the shortcakes denser when they bake and…. well, you’ll see…

Once we get all that in the bowl we mix it on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl frequently. I scraped the bowl at least once here, but to be honest that’s about as much as it needed.

a light brown batter in a clear bowl, Hershey's cocoa container in the background
roughly mixed batter

Our next step is where the recipe…. well… we’re told to mix on medium speed for four minutes. Yes, I said four. I thought, at the time that that was a little long, but I always go by the book the first time around unless there’s something that’s really off, so I went for it. And it certainly changed the consistency of the batter, which in the end it looked more like a fluffy mouse than anything I was expecting from shortcake batter.

light brown chocolate batter in a square pan

That went into the pan and baked for 30 – 35 minutes; I went for 30 and that may have still been a little on the long side. Now, according to Betty Crocker we’re supposed to cut out four servings and set the rest aside for later, adding our whipped cream/ice cream and banana slices.

The Verdict:

a thin square slice of chocolate shortcake, topped with sliced bananas and whipped cream.

Well, I know it’s called shortcake, but I wasn’t expecting something quite so… flat. I mean, I don’t know if it rose at all. Now, admittedly, the larger baking pan has something to do with the thinness going on here, but usually there’s a little more… height that happens during baking. Judging the shortcake itself, the texture is a little dry, and it’s certainly dense. Additionally, it could have stood to be a little bit sweeter.

Adding the bananas and topping certainly helps, both the texture and the taste. It adds that sweetness that was missing in the shortcake, however, even the bananas and whipped cream combined isn’t quite enough to compensate for the texture.

Now, I ended up using a baking mix I’m not familiar with, because Bisquick doesn’t come in buttermilk flavor anymore, or at least I couldn’t find any of the packages. I worried that this might have something to do with the recipe turning out the way it did, so I did a bit of an experiment, since I had some Bisquick on hand. I mixed up the batter again, using that baking mix this time, but I also was curious about that four minute mix time, so, half of the batter was mixed for one minute, and half of it was mixed for four minutes. The results were illuminating.

A cupcake pan filled with chocolate shortcakes, darker and peaked on the left side, lighter and fallen on the right.
one minute mix on left, four minute mix on right

The four minute shortcakes (had to use a muffin tin here so I could dole out the amounts evenly) fell as soon as I got them out of the oven, and ended up being quite shorter than the one minute shortcakes. They also had that dense texture I noticed from the original shortcake I made.

Banana and  whipped cream sandwiched between a split, cupcake shaped, chocolate shortcake
lightly mixed Bisquick attempt

Ultimately, however, I’m not sure if there was an issue with the buttermilk mixture or if it was solely due to overlong mix times. I did, however, prefer the flavor of the buttermilk mixture; it added a little pop of flavor that the Bisquick just didn’t have, so some future experimentation is in order I think. I’m curious about the spiced chocolate-banana option included in the cookbook.

Appearance – 4
Aroma – 3
Texture – 3
Taste – 4

Overall 3.5 – This one has potential. I honestly like the flavor profiles going on here, but it needs some work. As is, you end up with dense, flat shortcakes, that are kind of dry. The toppings compensate for that, but not enough to really call it a great recipe.

Chocolate-Banana Shortcake

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium-easy
  • Rating: ★★★ 1/2
  • Print
from Easy Oven Meals from Betty Crocker, 1984

Ingredients

1 1/3 cup buttermilk baking mix
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
1 banana, sliced

Directions


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8×8 baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine baking mix, sugar, cocoa, egg, and milk (all ingredients except for whipped cream/ice cream and banana).

Mix on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed for four minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.

Pour into the pan and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out clean.

To serve, cut four pieces and top with sliced bananas and whipped cream or ice cream.

Alternatively, if pressed for time, cake-like brownies will work in place of the shortcake.

2 thoughts on “Chocolate-banana Shortcake – 1984

    1. Your welcome! And thank you, I’ve had some fun looking through this cookbook in particular so it definitely won’t be the last Betty Crocker one I try out.

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