Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fudgy Banana Bars

Fudgy Banana Bars with Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Glaze - made September 13, 2014 from Averie Cooks
I had such high hopes for these bars. They looked so scrumptious on Averie's site and I thought they would be like the banana bread brownies I'd made before and just loved. Plus I've been a fan of almost every recipe I've made from her site and I didn't think these would be any different. Unfortunately they were. I don't know why I didn't like them. Were my expectations too high? Had my taste buds gone into the stratosphere in terms of what they needed to be hit with? Was I losing my edge in the baking or sweets department?
The batter was so promising too. For once, I worked with the white chocolate properly. Meaning I didn't burn them, they didn't seize up on me and they actually flowed smoothly with the melted butter and the rest of the ingredients when I mixed them all in. Score. I also had properly overripe bananas to use that were bursting with banana goodness, ready to impart flavor to whatever I added them to. I baked them for exactly 32 minutes, the toothpick came out clean, the texture looked similar to Averie's original, the glaze was easily made and poured over the still-warm bars, and I tried it when the whole thing was nearly cool. 

Usually when I taste test something, I only need a small piece and I can instantly make up my mind about it. I'm judgmental like that. For this one, I had to eat an entire normal-size piece before I could draw conclusions. I think my brain was insisting I had to like it because it was an Averie Cooks recipe and they're always fantastic. But my taste buds were telling my brain it was wrong; I didn't like it. I hate when my brain is wrong. I'm a thinker. Do thinkers like to be wrong? No. In this case, my taste buds won out and my brain capitulated....although it did try to give my taste buds the finger. My brain doesn't like to be wrong. 
Despite the bananas, there wasn't much flavor to these bars. The glaze was the best part and you know that's a bad sign, considering I'm not a frosting person. The texture was dense, too dense for me. If I'm eating something with the texture of fudge, I'd want it to be sweet and these weren't, except for the glaze. Maybe the white chocolate offset the banana flavor? Although you can't really taste the white chocolate, it might have been enough to mute the banana. I don't know. I'm bummed I didn't like these since I love so many of her other recipes but it just goes to show we all have different taste buds. And her site still has given me some of my favorite recipes. So there, says my brain to my taste buds. My taste buds still ignored my brain and suggested next time I should make the banana bread brownies instead.
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1 large egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 large or 3 small/medium ripe bananas)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1/4 cup unsalted butter, browned
1 heaping cup confectioners' s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (1 tablespoon vanilla extract may be substituted)
pinch salt, optional and to taste
about 1/4 cup cream or milk, or as necessary for consistency
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8" baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine the white chocolate and butter and heat to melt in 30-second intervals, stirring after each time until mixture can be whisked smooth. White chocolate burns and scorches easily so it's best to only heat enough for the butter to melt and whisk any remaining white chocolate bits smooth.
  3. Cool slightly before adding egg, sugar and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Stir in mashed banana and whisk until combined.
  4. Add flour and optional salt if using and stir until just combined. Don't overmix.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake for 32 to 33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs but not raw batter. 
  6. Make the glaze: combine browned butter with confectioners' sugar, vanilla bean paste, and optional salt. Slowly add milk, whisking until smooth, or beat with a handheld mixer. Add additional milk or confectioners' sugar until desired consistency is reached.
  7. Pour glaze evenly over slightly cooled bars, smoothing the top. Cool bars completely.

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