If you love bananas in every way, form or shape, you must do these bars. I usually don’t agree with something with all my heart because I know we all have different tastes, but seriously … try them. If you don’t have any over-ripe bananas on hand, go out right away and buy the ripest bananas you can find and then let them sit on your counter until they turn black. The wait can be extremely long, but let it be a lesson to you to have over-ripe bananas on hand for cooking emergencies like this one. Although now that I’ve used up all my over-ripe bananas, I have to start the cycle all over again because I’m making them again. If something that is not chocolate could be melting, that is how I would describe the texture of these bars. Don’t overbake them or they will be more pasty than “melted” but don’t overbake them because bananas already add a lot of moisture to everything they are baked into and you don’t want them to be soft or sticky but “fudgy”. I cooked mine to the point that the bottom was still a bit dense but the top half was just perfect.
And again, I have to say that the icing was perfect for these bars. Even if you don’t like the icing, don’t skip it! I ended up using only 3 cups of powdered sugar instead of 4 because I didn’t want the icing to be too sweet. When you make the icing, make sure you whip it well on the stovetop to emulsify the hazelnut butter with the rest of the ingredients. When you put it on hot banana bread brownies, it will tend to separate the butter as the frosting hardens. Simply dab it carefully with a paper towel to absorb it. It will be better once it has cooled down so there will be no puddles of separated butter on top. I haven’t tried these until they are totally cool. If I had a piece when they were hot, they might have been a little sticky for me. But once they were room temperature, they were perfect.
The frosting sets once the bars are cold. If you want to stack pieces on top of each other, separate the layers with wax paper or the wet bottom of the bars on top will stick to the icing of the bars underneath (I found that the hard way so you don’t have to – you’re welcome).
Brown Butter Frosting:
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar (I only used 3 cups)
Banana Bread Bars:
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional, I left them out)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 3/4 cups (3 or 4) ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. For the bars, in a large bowl, beat together sugar, sour cream, butter and eggs until creamy. Stir in bananas and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking soda, salt and mix for 1 minute. Stir in walnuts, if using.
- Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, for icing, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Let the butter fat turn a delicate brown and remove from heat immediately.
- Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Whisk together until smooth (it should be thicker than icing but thinner than glaze). Using a spatula, spread the hazelnut butter icing over the hot bars (the icing will be easier to spread while the bars are still hot). If the butter separates from the icing, blot carefully with a paper towel. Allow to cool completely before cutting.