When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And when bananas turn black, might as well start baking. In fact, for many (ok…me), old bananas baked into desserts are a much better way to leverage the soft, sweet fruit than raw preparations. And if you happen to add some dark chocolate and some spice, well then you are onto something. Something good. Something called Banana-Chocolate Chip Squares.
Happily, Carolyn hates to be wasteful, so when those bananas get black, the boys and I get this treat. But Carolyn is still a Mom (with a capital M) and that means if we get sweets, something healthy often gets snuck in as well. Usually this means some whole wheat flour in baked goods. And while we like whole wheat flour, sometimes it makes for dense and somewhat bitter-flavored dishes. That is OK for bread, but for sweets, a
total bit of a bummer. But Carolyn has an answer (doesn’t she always?).
In the case the
hack solution is to use spelt flour rather than whole wheat. Spelt is an ancient “proto-flour” that behaves in similar fashion to whole wheat but with softer flavor. So you get some of the nuttiness of whole wheat, but very few bitter notes. In fact, other than slightly denser texture, it would be hard for even a trained palette to notice and bitter flavor at all. And since you get a big dose of the sweet bananas and chocolate, along with spice, all you will really notice is how good these squares are. And if you add in some vanilla ice cream, it is even better. Think “banana split as it should have been” and you might be close.
Like many of our recipes, Carolyn adapted the basics from King Arthur Flour (no, we aren’t on the payroll yet, but one can always hope…). The main adaptation is substituting white chocolate chips for chopped walnuts. Our kids don’t love walnuts in baked goods, so why not add more chocolate? And besides, we are using spelt to avoid bitter flavors, so why risk it with a tannic ingredient like walnuts?
Nope, we will always take more chocolate. And like we said, if you serve this with ice cream, the dish goes from good to great. Now maybe we need to add some burnt caramel sauce…maybe even a hint of salt…hmmm….
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour)
Notes Before You Start:
- Nope, get cooking.
What You Get: Something like a Blondie, but much better. A good use for over-ripe bananas.
What You Need: Old bananas.
How Long? About an hour, or so. Mostly inactive time. You can make this dish any time you have the over-ripe bananas.
(Makes 2 dozen, 2-inch squares)
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 6 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups (9 3/8 oz.) dark (or light) brown sugar
- 3 very ripe medium bananas, about 8 oz. peeled
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 large egg
- 1 3/4 cups (6 1/8 oz.) whole spelt flour
- 1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup (6 oz.) white chocolate chips
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Beat in the bananas, lemon juice, vanilla, baking powder, salt and spices, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the egg, beating until smooth and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, again. Stir in the flour, mixing thoroughly.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan. Allow the batter to rest for 15 minutes, it will thicken slightly. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the batter.
- Bake the squares in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the center is moist, but not liquid. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack.
- For the best texture you can cool the squares overnight (if you have the patience). Cut and serve with vanilla ice cream, if you like.