Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sharp banana bars...

It's that time again for another edition of baking for the weekly Wednesday Treat Day for Jeff's co-workers. I've been letting some bananas go to get nice and ripe to put in the freezer, but decided to mash a couple so we could make these Banana Bars with Browned Butter Pecan Frosting.

I had enough bananas to get the full cup required for the recipes (about 2 large), but if you run short, just fill the rest of the cup with applesauce and it will be just fine. I love pairing brown sugar when using bananas, so these bars use a duo of sugars for sweetness - while the granulated sugar helps with the sweetness, the brown sugar gives these a rich depth. The bars are more soft and moist, rather than dense and chewy, and stay quite tender from the use of sour cream.

If you wanted a lighter treat, you could simply dust the top with confectioners' sugar, but we went a little more decadent with a browned butter cream cheese frosting to slather on top of these sharp banana-flavored bars. Browning the butter before using allows it to gain a very nutty flavor which plays off some toasted pecans we added on top. The butter can go from browned to burned fairly fast, so be sure to watch closely - remove the butter from the heat just when it begins to turn golden. Sometimes confectioners' sugar-based frostings can be a bit too sweet, but the cream cheese in the mixture helps to tone that down a bit. You could mix the pecans right into the frosting, but adding them on top adds a nice visual touch and allows those that don't care for nuts to sweep them off before they dig in.

I've had some Israeli Couscous sitting around in the pantry from the last time we used it and came across a recipe that sounded good to us when I was menu planning on Saturday. Israeli couscous, sometimes labeled as pearl couscous, is much larger than regular couscous - roughly about the size of a while peppercorn.

Because of the size difference, it does take quite a bit longer to cook - however, it is just as easy. This recipe prepares the couscous by pouring boiling water over and letting it sit, covered, for an hour. There may be some liquid left by the time they are done - just drain that off and you won't have to worry about them being too moist. The couscous is done when the pieces are plump and tender, yet not soggy or gummy.

There was a bit more to do while we waited, so we continued on with this Israeli Couscous and Corn Salad by sautéing onions, corn (still using up the fresh kernels we froze from the farmers market this past summer!) and red bell peppers, spiced with coriander and caraway seeds, until the vegetables were tender. Once the vegetables and couscous are tossed together, some minced jalapeños are added for a spicy bite, along with green onions and mint for a cooling freshness. With a few quick strokes of a whisk, a sweet lime-honey dressing is combined from fresh lime juice, canola oil, rice wine vinegar, honey and lime zest to coat the colorful salad with a snappy finish.


  1. Definitely going with decadent,thank you very much. ohhhh.... sweet cream cheese icing....

  2. The couscous is beautiful...the colors are droolworthy.
    I actively keep all of the ingredients in stock, I will have to give this recipe a try next week. Thank goodness my kids aren't picky and I think they will dig it. :)

  3. Wow,
    Both recipes look delicious! I love desserts with bananas. I'll have to make it next time I've got some overripe bananas around!

  4. MMmmmm....these sound sooo good. I definitely want to give these a try!

  5. MMmmmm I love browned butter. I have bananas that have black spots. I think I see a new recipe in the near future...

  6. The couscous look fabulous - I love the texture of Israeli couscous - good job.

  7. Bumblevee - I agree, icing please!

    Kandice - I would have never eaten this growing up! Kudos to you for sharing great food with your kids!

    Jenny - Me too!

    Laura - Let me know if you try them!

    Tracy - black spots = banana love!

    Giz - Thanks!

  8. OK, the bananas are on the counter and I'm waiting for these to ripe. I always buy a lot, we use some in smoothies and I make a banana dessert a week. So this is my next one to try. Thanks for sharing.

  9. sounds delicious, going to make the banana bars this weekend. great blog! i used to live in mpls, i miss the restaurants so much!

  10. The Kitchen Magician2/01/2008 12:09:00 PM

    I made the banana bars yesterday and they were YUM-O-LICIOUS! Once I started making the recipe, I noticed that my DH took one of the bananas to work, so I only had one banana (1/2 cup) to use. I made up for the missing 1/2 cup of banana with shredded granny smith apple. They turned out so moist! I look forward to making them with the correct amount of banana to see if they are just as moist!
    Don't skip out on the frosting- that is what puts the recipe over the top!

  11. Do you think that using a 9X13 pan with an adjustment to baking time would be okay for these?

  12. Helene - Woo! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

    XQ - Thanks!

    TKM - Shredded apple huh? Thats sounds like a great sub! I agree, that frosting is fantastic.

    Anon - I think it would work, they may be a little more cake-y, but you would also get more frosting per bite this way!

  13. We're getting ready to do a big kitchen renovation in the next few weeks, and I've been trying to decide what to make for the contractors.

    With about 8 bananas in my freezer, think I've got my answer~!

  14. Shelley - We went through a kitchen remodel last year... I know what kind of a mess that can create! I hope your contractors like these bars!

  15. My daughter requested these banana bars the other day. (I've made them many times.) I made a second batch for the office. I also had a company picnic that needed a "salad" supplied, so I tried the couscous recipe. I've had multiple requests for both receipes since. Thanks for making my life so "rich". Teri

  16. Teri - Fantastic! Thanks for coming back to leave feedback!