Food for Thought
---- — Banana Bread Brownies.
The name says it all, right? The nicest people you know baked banana bread. The smell of that kitchen is one of the most tangible, instantly sentimental memories you have. It hits a place in your brain where butterflies, school vacation, swing-sets, pajamas, and ponies archive.
Brownies evoke picnics and indulgence “kid-style,” which means butter and sugar enjoyed hands-free, no vow to work-out after the last bit of frosting is licked off the fingers.
A sweet, nostalgic, sensuous hug, Banana Bread Brownies have become an underground Internet sensation. I found this recipe just scanning the web, on Oliverandrust.com, and knew right away — even without the “oooh-la-la” comments and the consistent five-star reviews — it had the star quality of Molten Chocolate Cake and Beer Can Chicken.
A rich banana bread batter baked in a jelly roll pan, made deluxe with a browned butter frosting, these bar cookies don’t seem so unusual, but that part of the brain that keeps track of your favorite ice cream flavor knows that it’s brilliant. Bring a plate of these to a Fourth of July Cookout, and enjoy the applause.
Banana Bread Brownies
Makes approximately 30 bars
11/2 cups sugar
1 cups sour cream
1/2 cups butter, softened
1-3/4 cups (3 or 4) ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Brown Butter Frosting
1/2 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour 15-by-10 inch jelly roll pan. For the bars, in a large bowl, beat together sugar, sour cream, butter, and eggs until creamy. Blend in bananas and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and blend for 1 minute. Stir in walnuts.
Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, for frosting, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Let the butter turn a delicate brown and remove from heat.
Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Whisk together until smooth (it should be thicker than a glaze but thinner than frosting). Using a spatula, spread the brown butter frosting over the warm bars (the frosting will be easier to spread while the cake is still warm.)
Rockport resident Heather Atwood writes the Food for Thought column weekly. Questions and comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her blog at HeatherAtwood.com.