Thursday, April 17, 2008

Frosted Peanut Butter and Banana Bars

This was of the recipes I came across a few weeks back when I was searching for ways to use up all the bananas in the freezer. This recipe made the short list, but then I went off my banana baking kick and it got lost in the shuffle. Once again I have a pile of bananas growing in the freezer though, so I dusted this one off and gave it a try.

The recipe came from Culinary in the Desert and the title alone had me interested. However, his pictures of the light and creamy looking frosting also looked fantastic and I was looking forward to giving it a try. As with most recipes though -- the frosting was a disappointment.

At this point I have tried several different variations on Peanut Butter Frosting, and I have to say, only one has been worth it -- the Dorie Greenspan version that she used on her peanut butter frosted brownies (which I really need to make again so that I can blog about them.) I have used that frosting recipes on the brownies, on a banana Elvis cake, and as a filler between chocolate sandwich cookies and it has been killer every time. And, if I make this recipe again, I will use the Dorie peanut butter frosting on this too.

The problem with the frosting in this recipe (which is the problem with most recipes it seems) -- it tastes WAY too much like powdered sugar. I don't like the taste of powdered sugar, which is why I'm so picky about my frostings and my glazes. This recipe is also incredibly sweet and doesn't have enough peanut butter flavor for my tastes. I added an extra tablespoon of melted butter which did help quite a bit, but the frosting by itself just isn't that good to me. I will say though, it did work well with the banana bars underneath -- the two flavors went together very well and neither one overwhelmed the other. However, when I make a recipe, I want all individual parts to be able to stand alone as finger-licking good... not just good when eaten with something else.

The only change I made to the banana bars was to add about 1/2 a cup of chopped honey roasted peanuts -- I like a crunch when I eat my sweets and I figured that would be a good way to get it. The bars are moist and tastes like banana with peanut butter chips and peanuts giving it a slight crunch and faint peanut butter flavor. The super sweet frosting adds an extra dimension to it and works well, but doesn't offer enough contrasting flavor. I debated adding some chocolate chips to the batter, or even a chocolate ganache of some sort to give a nice contrast in flavor, but I decided to leave it alone this time.

2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg white
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 Lightly coat a 8X8" pan with cooking spray

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, oil, sugars, egg, egg white and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in bananas until blended - the batter will be lumpy.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in peanut butter chips. Add this mixture to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Place batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes. The original recipe had the time at 40-45 minutes, but when I made them they were done way earlier. Bake until the top is golden and starts to pull away from the sides. If you touch the center it should spring back. Cool completely before frosting.

(if you like lots of peanut butter flavor though use the Dorie recipe here.
2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, combine peanut buter, butter and sugar. Stir over medium heat until melted and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix in the milk. Cool completely. Add in confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat until it is spreadable and smooth.


Grace said...

i'm saddened by your news of frosting failure--i take my frosting very seriously. i've been known to sling frosting around the kitchen when it doesn't taste as good as i had hoped. okay, not really, but i've been tempted to. :)

biscuitpusher said...

I am incredibly picky about frosting and my general rule is that if it doesn't involve cream cheese it's not worth eating. I've had a recent breakthrough with powdered sugar glazes (melted butter is absolutely necessary), but I'm still working on finding variations on buttercream that I will actually eat.

Anonymous said...

i used with great success that orange-y glaze you used on that incredible orange almond bundt cake on my pumpkin stressel buns the other night. did you see the blog?
oh, and i had a small one of these. not bad...but it seemed to suffer from some kind of identity crises, like it couldn't quite decide what it wanted to be.

Sarah said...

I've been wanting to make these. Now I'll have to rethink the frosting...I've been a bit unsure if I really want to make them but I have a whole pile of bananas "ripening" on my kitchen table so I better find something to do with them! I'll have to try it with Dorie's frosting recipe!

biscuitpusher said...

one of the best things I learned over the last year about baking -- bananas freeze perfectly. Just pop the sad, brown bananas -- peel and all -- into the freezer and when you're ready to use them put them in the microwave for a minute or so and you're good to go. They look totally slimy and gross, but they bake with no problems.