This week, WOW. Is tomorrow really Thanksgiving? I just arrived home after a special, once-in-a-lifetime trip to Israel. After a week of 80+ degree weather and eating hummus at every meal, including breakfast, I am still adjusting to hearing Christmas music on the radio and seeing trees twinkling in my neighbors’ windows. I cherish this time of year, so rather than waiting for the jet lag to wear off, I’m diving right into all things holiday, starting with this festive Cranberry Cream Cheese Banana Bread.
This recipe is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill.
Moist, tender banana bread with cream cheese, dried cranberries, and a pretty white chocolate drizzle, this breakfast treat would be perfect for any holiday morning.
It’s also quick and easy to make, so if you are looking for a last-minute breakfast for tomorrow, you can add it to your menu with little stress.
Like these Banana Bread Brownies, this recipe combines the ease of a basic banana bread with the extra decadence and flair the holidays deserve. I used my favorite healthy banana bread recipe as the base—the batter needs only one bowl and 10 minutes to prep—then gussied it up with cream cheese, cranberries, and a little white chocolate.
This cream cheese banana bread was inspired by Starbucks’ Cranberry Bliss Bars, a favorite seasonal splurge, but does them better in a few important ways.
Cream Cheese Banana Bread – Bake Perfect, Moist Banana Bread Every Time
My biggest gripe with cranberry bliss bars is that, depending upon when you buy them, they can be dry. I usually try to assess their tenderness through the bakery case window before buying, but every now and then I misjudge and am left with a dry treat not worth its frosting.
If I could pinch the bars then put them back if they aren’t up to my softness standards, that would solve my problem. Since Starbucks isn’t likely to grant me that liberty anytime soon, I decided to come up with my own solution.
Not only is every slice of this Cranberry Cream Cheese Banana Bread guaranteed to be moist and tender, but it has a much higher nutritional value than cranberry bliss bars. I feel justified enjoying it for breakfast or as an afternoon treat.
The key ingredients to making this Cranberry Cream Cheese Banana Bread more wholesome are:
- Greek yogurt. Instead of making this banana bread with cream cheese and sour cream, I use nonfat plain Greek yogurt. I promise you can’t taste the difference. It makes the banana bread ultra moist and offers protein too.
- Maple syrup. It sweetens the bread more naturally, and the maple flavor is lovely with the cranberries.
- Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. This banana bread is 100% whole wheat, and thanks to this light-tasting, ultra-fine flour, no one will suspect!
Finding ways to make my favorite treats healthy without compromising their flavor is one of my baking passions, and Bob’s Red Mill products are some of my greatest tools. I use their white whole wheat flour quite often and lately have been playing around with the whole wheat pastry flour too.
The main difference between pastry flour and regular all-purpose flour (whether or not the flour is whole wheat) is that pastry flour is lower in protein, meaning it makes baked goods like this cream cheese banana bread extra super duper tender.
Pastry flour is an excellent choice for pie crusts, breadsticks, quick breads, and muffins. For baked goods where you need structure (chewy yeast breads or homemade whole wheat pizza crust), stick with the regular flour.
So, where does the whole wheat part come in? Whole wheat flour contains more of the original wheat kernel than white flour and thus is higher in protein, fiber, and other nutrients, which is why I prefer it in my recipes.
Most of the time, you can replace half of the all-purpose flour in a recipe with either white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour without a soul noticing. Often, as with today’s recipe, you can use all whole wheat flour and no one will ever know.
- For Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread: Replace half (or even all) of the dried cranberries with chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts.
- For Cream Cheese Banana Bread with Sweet Cinnamon Topping: Add ½ teaspoon cinnamon to both the batter and to the cream cheese frosting; omit the white chocolate drizzle. You can keep the cranberries, replace them with nuts, or keep it simple and omit them entirely.
- For a Less-Sweet Banana Bread: Omit the white chocolate drizzle.
- For Cream Cheese Banana Muffins: Grease a standard muffin tin. Prepare the batter as directed. Fill the muffin cups three-quarters of the way to the top, then bake at 375 degrees F for 22 to 27 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean (you’ll have 10 to 12 muffins). Frost as directed.
- For Cream Cheese Banana Cake: Try this Banana Bundt Cake recipe!
OK, now that I’ve baking nerded out by telling you more than you ever wanted to know about whole wheat flour, let’s bake some Cranberry Cream Cheese Banana Bread!
More Favorite Banana Bread Recipes
- Healthy Banana Bread (the original)
- Healthy Banana Muffins (Ben’s favorite)
- Banana Oatmeal Muffins (reader favorite + made in the blender)
Cranberry Cream Cheese Banana Bread
For the Cranberry Bread:
- 1 1/2 cups overripe bananas mashed, about 11 ounces or 3 large
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons melted cooled coconut oil* or canola oil
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or honey
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
- 1/2 cup reduced-sugar dried cranberries plus 2 tablespoons, divided
For the Cream Cheese White Chocolate Topping:
- 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 ounce white chocolate chopped, from a whole bar or the melting disks (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1/4 teaspoon coconut oil
- Bake the bread: Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8x4-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
- Mash the bananas in the bottom of a large bowl until mostly smooth. Whisk in the egg, then the yogurt and oil. If you're using coconut oil and it resolidifies, microwave the bowl for a few seconds to melt it. Whisk in the maple syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda, ginger, and salt over the top, then stir until combined. Gently stir in the flour until barely combined, then fold in 1/2 cup of the cranberries.
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check at the 35-minute mark and tent with foil if the bread is browning too quickly at the corners. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on the wire rack to finish cooling completely.
- While the bread cools, prepare the cream cheese white chocolate topping: In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract on medium speed until smooth. Reduce mixer speed to low, then slowly add the powdered sugar until combined. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the white chocolate and coconut oil. Microwave, uncovered, at 70% power for 20 seconds, then stir. Continue microwaving at 70% in 20-second bursts, stopping to stir between each. When the white chocolate is almost but not completely melted, remove from the microwave and stir until completely smooth, letting the residual heat melt the white chocolate the rest of the way.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture over the top of the cooled bread. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons cranberries, then drizzle with the white chocolate. Allow the chocolate set for a few minutes. Slice and serve.
- To bake this recipe as 12 muffins instead of in a loaf pan, lightly grease a standard muffin tin, then divide the batter evenly among the cups. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the muffins spring back lightly when touched.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (the bread tastes even better on Day 2!) or freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- If you'd like to reduce the overall calories and fat in the bread, omit the cream cheese and white chocolate topping. The bread will be less sweet but still delicious without them!
- If you do not have whole wheat pastry flour, you can swap the same amount of white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour.
- I have not yet experimented with making this bread gluten free, but I think you could use a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose blend like this one.
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I am sharing this post in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue to create quality content for you! For more healthy recipe inspiration, coupons, or to find a store that carries Bob’s Red Mill products near you, visit bobsredmill.com.