My brother has always had a thing for bananas. I don’t know what it was about them. I mean, I liked them as a kid, but Alex loved them. One of his favorite snacks to make was a “banana milk shake,” a term that I think my mother came up with to re-brand banana smoothies as something much more indulgent. He was a fan of the banana ice cream they served down the street at Prince Puckler’s, still my favorite ice cream shop in the country. And now that he’s a post-college grad trying to make it as a playwright in Chicago, one of his more bizarre frugal dinners it to make banana omelets. Yes. Bananas. In an omelet.
Okay, so I’m not sold on the banana omelets, although Alex will defend them to the death. But I started thinking about bananas when I was wondering what to get Alex for his birthday. Usually, I’m a pretty boring present giver – I go for the amazon gift certificate, or, once in a while, a book. But I decided to do something different this year – I decided to make him his very own banana baked good recipe.
Now, you’ll notice that the title of this post is for banana “brownies” and yet the photo clearly looks like muffins. But consider this discrepancy merely a deficiency of my kitchen – I actually don’t own a square baking pan, and it just didn’t seem right to bake them in a round pan. Plus, for shipping purposes, the individually packaged muffins are pretty sweet. But, rest assured, while you can bake these in muffin tins, they are intended to be baked in a 9×9 inch square cake pan.
I adapted this recipe from my own banana bread recipe, as well as a butterscotch brownie recipe from The Joy Of Cooking – one of the few sources I could find that had recipes for “brownies” that didn’t actually contain chocolate. Since Alex is such a banana fiend, these are heavy on the fruit – they’re best made with really old bananas that are beginning to blacken on the outside. They’re chewy and moist, sweet with the banana flavor, and punctuated with chunks of chocolate. I used bittersweet chocolate but I’ll actually use milk chocolate when I make these again – the sweetness of the milk chocolate would be a more harmonious compliment to the banana flavor.
So, happy birthday Alex. And yes, I realize that I’m writing this a week after your actual birthday. But, um, can having your very own handmade recipe make up for that?
Alex’s Chocolate Chunk Banana “Brownies”
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking and My Banana Bread Recipe
Makes 9 3×3 inch brownies, or 10 muffins
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 oz milk or dark chocolate chunks or chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 inch by 9 inch square baking pan or line 10 cups of a muffin tin with muffin liners.
In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Pour into a small bowl and let cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Add egg, vanilla, and bananas to butter mixture and stir until combined. Add flour mixture and stir until evenly incorporated. Fold in chocolate chunks and stir until evenly distributed.
Pour batter into prepared pan (if making muffins, fill tins 2/3 full). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the pan comes out clean.