Minnesota State Fair Winning Chocolate Banana Brownies

A few weeks ago I got an email from Gloria who’d been tinkering around with a brownie recipe for the Minnesota state fair. Since about a third of the judging is based on appearance, Gloria wanted hers to stand out and asked if I had any good recipes for brownies with shiny tops. Long story short, Gloria played around with her idea, made adjustments, and won a third place ribbon with her Chocolate Banana Brownies.

This weekend, after making the brownies again for co-workers who said they were the best she’d made all year, Gloria sent over the recipe. I’m not the biggest fan of banana in chocolate, but these were phenomenal. Along with flavor, the banana changed the texture and gave it this light, almost fluffy but still dense quality.

Chocolate Banana Brownies

I made the brownies twice. First, I went against the directions and used 5 oz Ghirardelli 72% extra bittersweet chocolate plus 1 oz Guittard dark chocolate chips in place of the 5 oz semi-sweet chips and 1 oz bittersweet chips. The brownies made primarily with bittersweet chocolate were very good. They didn’t have the shiny top like Gloria’s, but they had a soft, almost pillowy, texture and a bittersweet flavor – not too sweet at all.

chocolate banana brownie recipe

For the second batch, I decided to follow directions and used 5 oz Guittard semi-sweet chips and 1 oz Guittard extra dark chocolate chips (melted). These brownies were a tiny bit sweeter, but not overly so, and about as shiny as a brownie can be.

I can’t pick which one I like best, but the version below is what won.

Shiny tops aside, the banana is what makes these special. It’s not used as a fat replacer, but rather a texture and flavor enhancer. And in this case, there’s just enough banana for the flavor to be subtle.

Gloria’s State Fair Chocolate-Banana Brownies

5 oz semi sweet chocolate (or a little less that 1 cup chips)
1 oz bittersweet chocolate (or 3 tablespoons chips)
6 tablespoons salted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 t vanilla (optional) – Gloria leaves it out, anna added ½ tsp
1/2 of a small banana-well mashed
3/4 cup sifted flour
1 T unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter, add an extra pinch)
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup lightly toasted chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray cooking spray on bottom only of an 8 inch metal pan. Gloria noted that for the fair, she used non-stick foil to line the pan.

Mix flour, cocoa, and salt together and set aside.

Combine sugar, eggs, and banana in a separate bowl-stir until combined. I did this with a fork.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium low heat, then reduced heat to low and add 5 oz and 1 oz of chocolates. Cook and stir over low until smooth. Cool 5 minutes.

Add chocolate to sugar egg/banana mixture-stir until combined.

Stir in dry ingredients until just combined.

Fold in that last 1/2 cup chips and nuts. Bake 35-40 min, check at 35 (Anna’s note: I baked a full 45 min)

Cool completely before cutting. Anna’s note: I like to chill before cutting

Yield: Obviously, this makes 1 8 inch pan. How many brownies you get is up to you. I cut mine into 9 giant squares, but if you chill the brownies before slicing, you should be able to cut the brownies as small as you’d like. You might even want to try cutting 36 squares and serving them in mini cupcake holders.

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  1. Maura says

    So Gloria used 5 oz. semisweet chips AND 1/2 Cup semisweet chips?!? IS that correct for the “original” recipe she used?

    Big laugh at the test pattern–nice picture!!!

  2. says

    I agree with AJ; they do look decadent.

    I wonder if you added corn syrup to the batter or into the melted chocolate, would it make the brownies shinier? Just in general, not particularly this recipe.

  3. says

    Hi Maura, that’s right. She melted together 5 oz of semi-sweet chips plus 1 oz bittersweet (I put the volume amounts next to the weights) and then threw in an extra half cup of semi-sweet chips at the end. So in the end, the total amount of semi-sweet chips was 5 oz (which is a little less than a cup) plus 3 oz (half cup) of semi-sweet chips. That last half cup is added at the end.

  4. says

    Interesting, I just sent a comment and it didn’t pass the spam test.
    I said,
    You know I’ll love these and try them beings how they are banana brownies and all. Question is, did Todd and Emma like/try them, since they don’t like bananas?
    Let’s try this again. And send.

  5. says

    I’ll check the spam filter and make sure other comments didn’t get blocked by accident. We’re on a new server, so things have been a little strange today.

  6. says

    Most definitely the spam filter. OR, it’s hanging in limbo somewhere. Todd said that might happen to a few comments that were posted a specific time.

  7. says

    So, I still want to know if Todd and Emma tasted the brownies and like them or not. If I didn’t tell someone who doesn’t care for bananas that there’s any in it, would they be able to taste it?
    Hi Spam. Just checking. 😉

  8. says

    Yum! These look so good! I oughta try to make brownies from scratch. I always use the mixes. So these won 3rd place?… that’s pretty good!
    Not that this has anything to do with brownies, but my family has a gazebo/shed/lawn furniture booth at the MN State Fair. 🙂

  9. says

    I made these today. What? I told all ya’ll I would. They are fabulous, perfectly fudgy and GREAT tasting. The banana is a very subtle flavor. I gave one to a friend and didn’t tell him about the banana, but asked if he could tell there was something different in them. He couldn’t think of it. When I told him it was banana, he was surprised, but could then taste it.
    GRRREAT brownies. I think Gloria should have taken the blue ribbon! 😉

  10. Gloria says

    Thanks Katrina! And thanks again to Anna-without this blog I’d still be in brownie limbo. Blue Ribbon? Maybe next year!

  11. Christine says

    Hi Anna,
    Is there any requirement on the ripeness of the bananas? (I have some black bananas in the freezer awaiting use in banana bread. I just wonder if I could use a half of one of those, or if you think I should go with a fresh, less ripe banana.) My guess is that I could use a half of a frozen ripe banana, nuked for a spell to thaw with excess water drained.

    Can’t wait to try this recipe for the upcoming tennis event. Enjoy your website so much.



  12. says

    I sent (most of) the rest to Todd’s office and people gave them a thumbs up. Next time, I might add chunks of Oreo or even peanut butter chips. They’re great as is, but I think you could have fun with the chocolate banana theme and incorporate some more things that go with both.

    Katrina, I agree about the blue ribbon.

  13. says

    Hi Christine,

    That’s a great question and I should have addressed the ripeness issue in the post. The bananas I’ve been using were at the “edible” stage. They didn’t have any green on them, but they weren’t over-ripe either. I don’t think using a brown banana would hurt anything, but you might get a little more banana flavor and the brownies might be a tiny bit sweeter.

    I usually bake with over-ripe bananas, but this was a case where I wanted to make these right away and couldn’t wait for the banana to mature.

  14. joan says

    Hi Anna, I made these yesterday, and agree that they are scrumptious! Something about the banana and the texture. I meant to add vanilla, but accidentally forgot it. I don’t think they suffered too much. I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9X13 inch glass pan. Have you ever tried using Shirley Corriher’s (Spelling of her name may be wrong. She’s the author of Bakewise) trick of putting those “Magic Strips” around your baking pan when making bar cookies? They are those re-useable cloth strips that you soak in water and wrap around the outside of a cake pan to promote even baking. You need two of them to go all the way around a 9×13 inch pan. They work like a charm. The edge pieces don’t get over-baked. I like your idea of adding peanut butter chips to this batter. Or, even better, adding dollops of just plain peanut butter on top of the brownies like Ina Garten does in one of her brownie recipes. You could call them Elvis Brownies.

  15. says

    Glad you liked the brownies, Joan! I agree with you on the peanut butter. Peanut butter chips might be good, but I think the brownies would be even better with a little real peanut butter swirled over the top. I haven’t seen Ina Garten’s method, but I have mixed peanut butter with a little extra vegetable oil, softened it, then swirled it over the top of brownie batter. Also, I’ve never tried the baking strips, but I’ll bet they’re really helpful for layer cakes.

  16. Linda says

    This month’s “Modern Baking” addresses the question of adding vegetables and fruit to cookies without changing the flavor. The formula suggests using any pureed vegetable or fruit (butternut squash is noted as one that will retain moisture well and has a neutral flavor) at no more than 10% of the flour weight for best results.

  17. says

    I just had a recipe idea and thought I’d post it here for safekeeping. Maybe someone will see it and try it. Maybe I will.

    This banana brownie might be great with Southern Living’s peanut butter streusel from a few posts back. A lot of people having problems getting the cook time ironed out with that particular brownie, but maybe this one would work better. Plus, there’s be a good theme — chocolate banana peanut butter streusel.

  18. Migsy says

    I saw that brownie at the fair yesterday. It did look scrumptious! I’m going to make a pan today. I plan to serve it with ice cream and some chocolate raspberry sauce. Thanks, Gloria and Anna!

  19. says

    So the brownies stayed at the State Fair all this time? How does that work? I figured they’d get eaten the first day after all the winners were announded.

    I’ll let you all know how the peanut butter version tastes. I’m making a batch this morning.

  20. Gloria says

    Glad everyone likes them so far! The MN State Fair displays all winning entries and a lot of the left overs in cases for the length of the fair: 10 days. Non-refrigerated cases I might add! For general baked item entries nothing can require refrigeration…..I would hate to be the one cleaning out those display cases on day 11!!!!!

  21. Lee Zoloto says

    First of all, I was salivating when I read the recipe. I made them Saturday morning and drove everyone in the house crazy. They are the splendid and I almost followed the recipe exactly, but not quite. I added a teaspoon of instant coffee crystals and half a teaspoon of citric acid (which I add to all baking). My sister won’t share her pretty good brownie recipe with anyone, but these are even better and she’s not getting the recipe. Thank you for your glorious creation.

  22. gloria says

    I decided to add 1/2 cup of blueberries to this recipe and I cut the salted butter down to 4 tablespoons. (There are so many recipes out there that call for 2 oz of chocolate and 8 oz of butter for and 8×8 so about 10 oz of fat. This recipe altered is also about 10 oz of fat, but 6 oz are chocolate, not butter.) I also put in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, but no extra choco chips. They needed to bake an extra 10-15 minutes, but they are good and the blueberries that show in the top crust are kind of interesting! They might be good with no banana and just the blueberries and the 6 T of butter for those banana-challenged!

  23. gloria says

    I also used mostly WW pastry flour with the changes above. Trying to make a terribly unhealthy treat a little healthier!

  24. Jay says

    So is the first picture the first attempt?? Was the crust a thin one? I am trying to perfect my brownie crust. thx J

  25. says

    Hi Jay,
    Good question! I usually put my favorite photo on top, so that first photo is actually the second attempt. The shiny crust comes from sugar added to hot chocolate (melted sugar), but the flakiness is more likely due to eggs, even though I didn’t really beat them. But I did get shinier tops when using a combination of semisweet chips and bittersweet chips rather than 72% bittersweet chocolate and dark chocolate chips.

    P.S. If you want a brownie with a thick crusty, try Maida’s Palm Beach Brownies. The high temperature helps form a crust.

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