Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Banana Walnut Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I promised you my dessert recipe from my Sunday cooking marathon so here it is! This is my first attempt at baking anything from scratch. Ever. I'm quite proud of myself because I didn't think I could bake. In the past, when I tried to bake pre-made cookies and I burned the bottom every single time. Which didn't really concern me because I just stopped baking them and settled with eating the cookie dough. Times have changed and I am officially breaking into the world of baking!

I absolutely love bananas but I'm sort of picky about them.  I buy them when they are green so they will stay good for a couple days.  But I won't eat them if they have any green on them so I don't eat them for the first few days.  Then, after a couple days, they turn the perfect shade of yellow so I can enjoy them for breakfast with cereal, oatmeal, or just spoonfuls of peanut butter for about two days.  Then they turn brown and get that mushy overripe taste, which makes me think of baby food.

This is exactly what happened to me on Sunday.  As previously mentioned, I never waste food.  So I decided to look for a recipe that would use my bananas. The most common option would probably be banana bread or muffins.  Well, I haven't acquired a muffin tin or a bread pan yet so those were out of the question.  That's when I stumbled upon this gem.

These bars are awesome.  That's all I can say. Without the frosting, they aren't super sweet.  The bar portion sort of tastes like banana bread but thinner (obviously). With the frosting, they are out of this world.  But I'm biased because I could eat cream cheese frosting on anything. The recipe makes a little too much frosting so I froze the leftovers, which I will probably eat with graham crackers, fruit, or possibly just a spoon. I'm not even embarrassed to say that I used my finger and licked the bowl completely clean like a five year old. Seriously, I left absolutely no remnants.  I have a problem. But it's okay, I got my daily workout in by creaming and mixing everything by hand because I don't have an electric mixer yet.  That's an acceptable justification, right?

A couple notes: Don't be worried about the consistency of the frosting. It's going to be a little runny and thicker rather than whipped like the stuff you buy at the store. I cut this into 24 little bars. Mainly so I only eat little pieces rather than sitting down and eating the whole tray with a fork in one sitting. If you were bringing them to a party or potluck or something you might want to cut them into slightly larger pieces (maybe 15) but not too big because the frosting does make these very rich. I tried to healthify these a little by using Splenda but if you don't have/like Splenda, feel free to just substitute regular granulated sugar.

Frosted Banana Bars
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup of Splenda or white sugar
  • 2 eggs or 1/2 cup of egg beaters
  • 1 cup fat free plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (in with bananas)
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the yogurt and vanilla. Combine the flour and baking soda; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana, cinnamon, and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting with the cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle with walnuts for garnish.
For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (I used light)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

  1. Cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.  

As with the lasagna, I could not allow myself to eat a whole 9 x 13 of this in a week so I cut up all the bars, wrapped them in plastic wrap, put them in a freezer bag (labeled with the contents and date) and put them in the freezer in case of emergency cravings or bad days that can only be cured via sugar. I only left out two corner pieces for immediate consumption.  Willpower!

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