Thursday, April 18, 2013

chocolate-crusted banana blondies.

There is a magic trio of chocolate, caramel, and salt that makes my knees weak. It's fairly safe to say that almost every recipe I come across that is composed of this trifecta ends up being made within a week of me reading it (and truth be told even a week is pretty generous). The most notable of these recipes is the chocolate, caramel, sea salt brownies from the Baked Explorations Cookbook. The first time I had them was at a close friends Christmas party (I remember the first time fondly). Upon first bite I became utterly infatuated (and became even more so with each subsequent brownie I ate). I was so addicted to them that I may have shoved as many as I could into my purse  in an effort to "research" them when I got home (trust me when you try them you will do the same thing).  I got the recipe and decided to make them on my own only to discover this was a process - a (chocolate) labor of love.  So lets just say they are a once a year treat. Nothing has quite fulfilled my love for those brownies until I met these banana chocolate blondies.  The flavor is familiar (butterscotch! chocolate! banana!) but including all of those flavors (along with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt) in a single layered bar cookie is new which is probably why I find them so irresistible.  These would make for a decadent ice cream sundae (or banana blondie split!) but I personally love them with a tall glass of milk after a long day of work.  

Chocolate-Crusted Banana Blondies
Recipe via Melissa Clark at the NYTimes 

At first when I tried the batter (don't tell me no one else tries the batter because then I know you are all lying to me), I was worried these were going to be unbelievably sweet (that statement is shocking coming from me), but once you try everything together (and include the sprinkle of salt) it really all works perfectly.  I also love these cold, everything firms up in a really wonderful way.  

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/4 cups), more for greasing pan
200 grams chocolate wafer cookies (to make about 3 cups crumbs)
55 grams light brown sugar (about 1/4 cup)
3 grams fine sea salt (about 1/2 teaspoon), plus a pinch
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
455 grams dark brown sugar (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons dark rum or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
130 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
80 grams toasted walnuts, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment, and grease with butter.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan over low heat or in microwave. Put the chocolate wafer cookies in the bowl of a food processor and process to make fine crumbs. Add the light brown sugar, melted butter and a pinch of salt. Process until the mixture is the consistency of damp sand. Dump the mixture into the pan and press it into an even layer. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the surface is firm. Remove the pan and set aside.

Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 12 tablespoons butter, then let it cook until the foam subsides and butter turns a deep nut brown, about 5 minutes. Cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, dark brown sugar and rum. Whisk in brown butter. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and fine salt. Fold into batter along with the toasted walnuts. Pour the mixture over the prepared crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle top with flaky salt if using.

Transfer pan to oven and bake until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges with a few crumbs attached (or clean) but not wet, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack; cut into 24 bars.

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