I’ve had house guests in town the last two weekends which means I’ve fallen a little behind in getting new recipes posted. When we have friends or family staying with us, I like to bake up a few items that work well for a breakfast or a mid-day snack so our guests have something homemade to nibble on. Personally, I find that being forced to eat out every meal of the day can be tiring, expensive, and unhealthy when I’m away from home. And, while it is always nice to stay with friends and family, access to the kitchen can feel like an imposition in someone else’s home. I try to make guests feel welcome in our kitchen (even if it is tiny!) and if I can get my act together, providing some baked goods helps to create a warm welcome.
Last week, I made these banana cake bars to welcome our guests. These are not as dense as a traditional banana bread and I baked them in an 8 x 8 pan before cutting them into squares for breakfast or a snack on the go. I used Cooking Light’s recipe for Monkey Bars as a starting point, but I made a few modifications based on the ingredients I had on hand. First, I used ½ whole wheat and ½ white flour. Second, I didn’t have rum or apple juice, so I soaked the raisins in some cognac instead. Third, because I was out of brown sugar, I used 1 tablespoon of black strap molasses and only ½ cup granulated sugar instead of the ¾ cup of brown sugar called for by Cooking Light. Next, I doubled the bananas because I had two that really needed to be used, and I substituted non-fat Greek yogurt for the buttermilk. Finally, I skipped the walnuts in favor of white chocolate chips since I was trying to finish up a ½ bag of white chocolate chips.
These bars came out really nicely and the house smelled wonderful. They were light enough as a nice breakfast cake or a midnight snack. The bars were very moist and full of banana flavor. This recipe is a great way to use up ripened bananas too!
What is your favorite way to use ripened bananas?
BANANA CAKE WITH COGNAC RAISINS (adapted from COOKING LIGHT’S MONKEY BARS)
½ cup raisins
1 ½ tablespoons dark rum, cognac, or apple juice
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon molasses (I used black strap molasses)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt or buttermilk (non-fat or low-fat are perfectly fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg whites
½ cup white chocolate chips
olive oil or butter for greasing the pan
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Lightly grease and flour an 8 x 8 baking pan, set aside.
In a small bowl, add raisins and liquor or juice. Microwave the raisins for 1 minute then, set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, set this aside too.
In a large bowl, add the molasses and sugar and beat on medium speed until well combined. Add the butter and beat with sugar on medium until light, fluffy, and well-blended, about 4 minutes.
Next add the banana and the egg whites and continue to beat on medium speed for another 2 minutes, making sure the ingredients are all incorporated. Add the flour mixture and beat on medium-low, until just combined, then stir in the raisins and white chocolate chips.
Spread the batter into the baking pan. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350F or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before cutting and serving.