Saturday, January 9, 2010

Guest Post: Cath Eats Roasted Banana Bars with Browned Butter-Pecan Frosting

I'm still in Aruba so here is my friend Cathy to talk about this delicious dessert we made for New Year's Eve.
"After talking Lisa into co-hosting a New Year's Eve party at her house Binghamton, we had to come up with some recipes to serve.  Lisa and I love to experiment with new ingredients, recipes and healthy substitutions, but she gently reminded me that not all of our friends are as adventurous as we are.  We settled with roasted banana bars with browned butter-pecan frosting.  I have a thing with bananas, and we figured there was enough sugar in these guys to keep everyone happy.  
We started off with ripe bananas and roasted them in butter and brown sugar for about 35 minutes.  Next step: giving Lisa's new Kitchen-Aid stand mixer a whirl!  It mixed the cake batter perfectly and was simple to use, what more could you ask for?  We used whole wheat pastry flour instead of the cake flour, and used a regular milk and vinegar substitute for the buttermilk (thanks Google!).  While waiting for the cake to cool, we browned the butter and beat it into the confectioners sugar and cream cheese to make the frsoting.  Finally we topped the bars with some candied walnuts I had made before the holidays.  They turned out perfectly." -Cath

Roasted Banana Bars with Browned Butter–Pecan Frosting
Adapted from Cooking Light. Makes about 20 Bars. 

Roasted Bananas:
2 cups sliced ripe banana (about 3 medium)
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
9 ounces whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup skim milk with one tablespoon white vinegar (or 1/4 buttermilk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups unrefined pure cane sugar
2 large eggs

1/4 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup (3 ounces) organic neufchatel cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Cath's candied pecans (see below for recipe)

Preheat oven to 400°
To Roast Bananas:
Combine banana, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon butter in an 8-inch square baking dish. Bake 35 minutes, stirring after 17 minutes. Cool slightly
Reduce the oven to 375°. 
Combine fry ingredients (flour, soda, and baking powder) in a medium bowl, set aside.
Combine roasted banana, buttermilk (or milk vinegar mixture), and 1 teaspoon vanilla in another medium bowl.
Cream 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer; beat at medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs to mixer bowl; beat to combine. Add dry ingredients to the mixer bowl alternating with banana mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
Pour batter into a greased 9x13in pyrex or pan Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (took about 25 minutes in my oven) Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly. Combine browned butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat until smooth and fluffy. Spread frosting over cooled bars. Arrange Candied Pecans on top. 

Cath's Candied Pecans
10-12 oz. Pecan Halves
2 Egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
1C Pure cane sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/2C Butter

Preheat oven to 325
To toast pecans, bake them dry on cookie sheet for 8 minutes
Beat 2 egg whites until fluffy.  Add salt and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  
Add sugar and vanilla and continue to beat.
Fold the toasted nuts into the meringue (I do mean fold. DO NOT stir them.) 

Melt butter in a jelly roll pan (or a cookie sheet with sides)

Fold in nut/meringue mixture and bake for 30 min flipping every 10 minutes.
Let cool and enjoy plain or on top of roasted banana bars.

A couple guests at our small New Year's gathering

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