CHEW THIS! Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

Chocolate Banana Bread Bars

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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.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” June 24th, 2016

Who does not love the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich? It is traditional, delicious and comforting all rolled into one. I got to thinking about that, and thought – why not transform that sandwich into a dessert? I thought about peanut butter and jelly cookies (my Grandma Barbra eats jelly on top of her peanut butter cookies) but decided for it to be portable, and less messy, it would need to be a “bar” of some kind. The first time I tried these with less jelly, but in the end, decided they needed more jelly. These are absolutely perfect!

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, slightly melted
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups smooth peanut butter
3 cups white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups strawberry jam or jelly

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F and spraying a 9×13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Next, line the pan with parchment paper, and spray the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray. This will ensure the bars to be easily removed when finished baking.

In a large bowl, combine the slightly melted butter and white granulated sugar until thoroughly mixed, light in color and creamy.

Next, add in the pure vanilla extract, large eggs and smooth peanut butter. Combine this and mix together well.

Finally, add in the white all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Stir this together just until everything is combined thoroughly.

Place over half of this mixture into the prepared pan, spread and push down evenly with clean fingers. You want the base to be as even as possible – this is important.

In a medium sized bowl, place the strawberry jam/jelly and stir well until it turns into a spreadable consistency.

Place the jam/jelly on top of the dough base and spread out evenly with the back of a spoon.

Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the top of the jam/jelly. Don’t worry about consistency here – just crumble as evenly over the top as you can.

Place in preheated oven for 40 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing and serving. This is best kept refrigerated.

Enjoy!