Chew This! Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

Pick up a copy of “The Courier-Times” TODAY to check out my newest “CHEW THIS!” column and recipe for my “Chocolate Banana Bread Bars”! They are deliciously simple, effortlessly easy and unbelievably scrumptious! My taste testers went wild for these – and I think you will too! Enjoy!

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, February 4th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

A New Take on Banana Bread…
Blaise Doubman

I love banana bread and I have experimented with countless recipes over the years. There has been banana bread with nuts, without nuts, with sour cream, with extra butter, melted butter, softened butter, a combination of butter and vegetable shortening, brown butter banana bread, banana bread with raisins and even a banana bread made with a yellow cake mix. If you think that is a lot, consider the fifty other versions I have tried but did not want to mention in fear of readership boredom and lack of room. Seriously though banana bread, to me, always needed something extra. No, not cinnamon and no, not extra bananas, that only makes the finished loaf tough in the end, I have tried it! I have always thought it was missing… chocolate!

Chocolate! Yes, chocolate. I am a registered chocoholic and proud of it. Anything and everything, to me, is better with chocolate and this recipe is no exception! It took a few rounds in the kitchen with this recipe before it was perfect but the finished result was well worth the extra time and extra work. My taste testers, shout out to Tiffany at Glen Oaks, loved this so much that they encouraged me to bring it again – that next day! Ha! The bread is baked in an untraditional way, in a 9×13-inch baking pan, but does so because you cut this bread into bars! The combination of the moist flavorful banana bread with the chocolate version is pure and utter heaven for banana and chocolate lovers! I highly recommend you stir up a batch of these!

Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

These really stretch when it comes to cutting serving sizes, so cut the bars small and serve for a large gathering! If you want to freeze the leftover bars, do so by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil before placing into a freezer safe zipper bag. Once frozen, bring to room temperature over night to gently thaw before eating.

1 stick unsalted butter, soft
1 cup white granulated sugar
4 large bananas, peeled and mashed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with a non-stick spray containing flour.

Beat together the soft unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar until light in color and fluffy in texture. Add in the prepared bananas, large egg and pure vanilla extract. Beat well.

Finally, fold in the white all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Measure out a little less than 2 cups of this mixture and drop by large spoonful’s erratically around the inside of the prepared pan.

Add the unsweetened cocoa powder to the remainder of the batter in the bowl and beat well.

Place the now chocolate banana batter in spoonful’s around the batter that has already been placed in the pan. Do not worry about being neat with this. You will see why in a minute.

Now, with the back of a spoon, carefully spread out all of the dollops so that they gently form together and come together into one large even batter service. Next, take a knife and gently swirl the batter together making a marble effect on the top.

Place in preheated oven for exactly 25 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool slightly before cutting, serving and enjoying.

Ask and Answer: I heard from so many of you with my previous column of my chocolate mayonnaise cake and I love and appreciate your feedback! To answer a few of your questions, yes you can use water instead of the coffee, yes you can make the cake in 2 9-inch circle cake pans, the baking time will not change and you may frost the cake with whatever frosting you desire, or simply sprinkle over some powdered sugar and serve alongside a bowl of fruit. I loved hearing your memories of growing up with a cake very similar to mine in your household.

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Banana Cream Pie in a Glass

Who does not love banana cream pie? I was experimenting with pies a few weeks ago and the crust did not work out, so I made the crust into one of the layers in a parfait! My taste testers LOVED the idea and thought the taste and texture was almost better than the original pie! Flip around this recipe to make whatever flavors you desire! So fun and so elegant. Plus – a portable pie!? Score!


Banana Cream Pie in a Glass 

1 box instant banana pudding mix
3 cups whole milk
4 large bananas, sliced thin
1 cup crumbled graham crackers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups whipped cream, homemade or bought

In a large bowl combine the instant banana pudding mix with the whole milk. Whisk together and let stand for about 3 minutes.

In a large bowl combine the crumbled graham crackers, melted unsalted butter and ground cinnamon until sand-like in looks and texture.

Start putting together the dessert by sprinkling a layer of crushed graham crackers into the bottom of the desired number and size of glasses. 

Next layer in the banana pudding, sliced bananas and whipped cream. Keep layering until the mixtures run out and you are left with a layer of whipped cream on the top. 

Sprinkle some crushed graham crackers on top of each right before serving. 

Enjoy! 

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Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Honey Frosting

I am a huge fan of cupcakes! I love making them, eating them – but not decorating them… I am not the World’s Best Decorator by any means – I think it is because my focus is always on the eating of the dessert – and less on how it looks. Regardless, the perfect garnish can hide some imperfections – like the sliced banana garnish I use for these!

This recipe was inspired by Martha Stewart. You can Google her version of the recipe and see what changes I made. I added more cupcakes to the total amount baked, changed some of the measurements and added some flavorful ingrediants. I am always looking on how to improve a recioe – and in this case – I have done it!

Instead of making banana bread next time you have some ripe bananas to use – make these moist and delicious cupcakes!

Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Honey Frosting

For the cupcakes…
1 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
4 ripe bananas, mashed 
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

For the frosting…
4 cups powdered sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
1 tablespoon pure honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt 

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 12-cup cupcake tins with cupcake liners. Lightly spray cups with non-stick cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, mix together the white all-purpose flour, white granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon. 

Next, add in the melted and cooled unsalted butter, mashed bananas, large eggs and pure vanilla extract. 

Gently fold everything together, being very careful not to over mix the batter. Gently fold until all the white streaks of flour have disappeared. 

Next, divide the batter evenly between the cupcake tins. This batter makes 18 cupcakes and you need to fill them each 3/4 of the way full to the top.

Pour a small amount of water into the remaining 4 empty cupcake cavities. 

Place in preheated oven for exactly 27 minutes.

Once baked, remove from oven and allow to cool while you make the frosting.

To make the frosting, combine the melted and cooled unsalted butter with the honey, ground cinnamon and salt. Add in enough powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. You’ll want a frosting that is thick, ice cream consistency, but yet easy spreadable. 

To frost the cupcakes, divide the frosting evenly between the cupcakes, and frost accordingly. 

Enjoy!

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