If you expect a banana bar to be dense, firm, moist and rich rather than so light and cakey you need frosting and a fork, here’s your recipe. These "Banana Blondies" are from a 1983 article by Florence Fabricant called “Over or Under Ripe, Myriad Uses for the Banana” and it’s almost perfect.
The original recipe had a full cup of chocolate chips, which seemed like a bit too much and I’m glad I held back. Other than adjusting the salt, reducing the chocolate chips and using white whole wheat flour instead of the white/wheat combo, I followed the recipe as written
The banana blondies came out of the oven brown and very soft. I could tell they’d be a gooey mess if I cut into them warm, so I waited patiently for them to cool to room temperature, then not-so-patiently chilled the bars for another hour so they'd slice neatly.
Here’s the recipe as modified by me. My baking time was also a bit longer than the original.
Banana Blondies with Walnuts and Chocolate Chips
6 tablespoons (84 grams) unsalted butter
⅔ cup packed light brown sugar (130 grams)
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 bananas, mashed to puree (7 oz wt.) – about 1 cup
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt -- omit if using salted butter
1 cup white whole wheat flour, fluffed, scooped, swept straight across (4.25 oz/120 grams)
⅔ cup extra dark chocolate chips
½ cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square metal pan with foil and spray bottom of pan with cooking spray.
Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg and beat for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy, scraping side of bowl often. Beat in the vanilla, followed by the banana puree. Beat in baking soda and salt. Scrape sides of bowl. Add flour and stir by hand or using lowest speed of mixer until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
Pour batter into pan and spread to the edges. Bake on center rack for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack to room temperature. For cleaner cuts, chill an hour before slicing.
Lift foil from pan, place on cutting board, Cut into 16 (or 9) squares.
Peanut Butter Topping Swirl for Banana Bars
In full disclosure, I did monkey around a little bit with the recipe and tested one segment with a peanut butter swirl on top. At first I thought it would be overkill, but I kind of liked it in the end. If you are a peanut butter and banana fanatic and like over-the-top bars, here’s how to make the variation. You’ll need the following extras:
½ tablespoon butter
2 ½ tablespoons creamy peanut butter plus more
¼ teaspoon brown sugar
After making the batter as written and pouring it in the pan, melt butter in a small microwave-safe cup. Stir in 2 ½ tablespoons of peanut butter and the brown sugar. Using a teaspoon measure, drop 9 evenly spaced circles of peanut butter mixture over the batter. Drag a knife through just enough to make a swirled/pulled effect. Bake as directed. The peanut butter will develop little air bubbles after it has baked, so you’ll need to do some cosmetic enhancements. Put some more creamy peanut butter on a spoon and drop it over the hot blondies covering, as best you can, the pattern made by the baked peanut butter mixture. Let it soften a little from the heat, then gently spread it over the baked peanut butter mixture. Let cool and chill as directed above.
The peanut butter version looks like this.