Banana Bread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

These are the super-dense, moist, compact version of banana bread. Using nutty brown butter was an inspiration from Susan Vu in our kitchen, who always uses brown butter in everything. I melted the butter for these bars and thought, what else can I do with this? Oh, there's Suzie. I'll do what she always does - and it made a real difference.

From Miriam Garron for Cooking Channel
TOTAL TIME: 2 hr 10 min
Prep: 25 min
Inactive Prep: 1 hr 20 min
Cook: 25 min
 
YIELD: Twenty-four 1 1/2-by-3-inch bars
LEVEL: Easy

ingredients

BARS:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (from 2 or 3 bananas)
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooked until dark brown
FROSTING:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, optional
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
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Directions

For the bars: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut a piece of foil 9 by 20-inches. Butter the corners and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line the pan with the foil so that the excess hangs over at each of the short sides of the pan.

Whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

Vigorously whisk the bananas with the browned butter in a large bowl, until very well combined and creamy. Whisk the eggs, sugars and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk the egg mixture into the banana mixture.

Fold the flour mixture into the banana mixture with a rubber spatula until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool completely on a rack, about 1 hour.

For the frosting: Beat the butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds, if using, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add the confectioners'sugar and beat until fluffy.

When the bar has cooled completely, place a lightweight cutting board or a baking rack over the top of the pan. Flip and set on the counter. Gently pull the pan from the foil and the foil from the pan to remove. Gently peel the foil off the bar. Place another lightweight cutting board on top, and flip the bars right-side-up.

Frost the bars all the way to the edge and refrigerate 20 minutes before slicing into 1 1/2-by-3-inch bars.

Cook's Note: We like these bars even better cold the following day. To store in the refrigerator, chill the frosted bars about 30 minutes, uncovered, and when the frosting is set wrap in plastic wrap.

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  • on January 15, 2013

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    This bar was very easy to make and was enjoyed by everyone who tried one. I will say the brown butter flavor is subtle. Also, the bar definitely has a banana bread texture, not to be confused w/ typical banana bars.

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