Besides banana bread and smoothies (and of course the remarkable one ingredient ice cream), what can you do with over ripe bananas that just don’t look appealing?
Did I hear you say, “Chocolate-Bottom Banana Bars, April?” Well, probably not, but this is certainly a delicious way to use up those over ripe bananas!
I love reading mysteries, especially mysteries that have some referrence to food, and, oh, by the way, contain recipes mentioned in the book. One of my favorite authors is Cleo Coyle. I can always count on her for great murder mysteries as well as interesting recipes, some of which come from her Italian family. This recipe is one of those. And of course, when I am intrigued by a recipe, for any reason, I have to try it.
I did bake this recipe using the Cuisinart CSO. It turned out moist and baked up in about 25 minutes, although I would start checking for doneness at 20 minutes. Despite using steam for moisture and not preheating the CSO, you can get some cracking or “oven spring” (The sudden increase in the volume of a dough during the first 10–12 minutes of baking, due to increased rate of fermentation and expansion of gases.) on the top of the cake. Not to worry, it still tastes good. You can, of course, bake the bars at 300 degrees F on the Bake Steam setting to slow down the baking time and decrease the chance of the top of the cake cracking, just add an additional 10 minutes to the baking time.
So….without further adieu, here you go!
- 2 cups mashed ripe* bananas (about 4 to 6 depending on size)
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¾ cup canola oil, or other mild tasting oil
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with fork
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon table salt or finely ground sea salt
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup baking cocoa
- ½ teaspoon espresso powder
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Line the bottom of a 9‑inch-square pan with parchment paper, allowing the ends to hang over the side like handles. You’ll use those handles to easily lift the baked banana bar slab out of the pan. Coat paper lightly with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- Combine 2 cups of mashed bananas and sour cream with a fork. Add the oil, sugar, egg, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fork-whisk well (or use an electric mixer) to blend until smooth. Now add your flour and mix until a lumpy batter forms, but do not over-mix.
- Remove 1 cup batter and place it into a separate bowl. Add cocoa and espresso powder, fork-whisking until the batter is smooth. Fold in chocolate chips, and (optional) chopped walnuts.
- Spread the chocolate batter across the entire bottom of the prepared pan. Take your time, using the back of a spoon to spread the batter all the way into the corners. Be sure the layer is even. Now pour your remaining banana batter on top and once again use the back of a spoon to even out the layer (otherwise your bars will bake up lopsided). Using the Bake Steam set at 325 degrees F on the Cuisnart CSO, bake the bars for 20 minutes. Check doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, remove the pan from the CSO. If the toothpick does not come out clean, bake for another 5 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack.