I’m not going to lie. I’ve practically eaten my weight in asparagus this week. Asparagus and Brown Butter Banana Blondies. Good lord, help me—I can’t. stop. eating these things! It all began very innocently (as such temptations usually do). I was perusing the NYtimes dining section when a video caught my eye. Melissa Clark had posted a video and corresponding recipe for brown butter banana blondies with chocolate crust.
Now, ordinarily blondies don’t really interest me. I always found them to be kind of odd and blah…where is the chocolate? Is it confused? Doesn’t it just want to be a brownie? But once I saw that this recipe was for blondies with a chocolate crust, my eyes widened and my This is the blondie madeover. They’re like blondie’s boundary-pushing, sometimes scantily clad, edgy, brunette friend, who’s controversial presence commands whispers and stares. Like the Megan Fox of desserts. She’s seemingly wholesome with her bananas but let’s be honest, she probably hooked up with blondie’s boyfriend behind her back and shoplifted some underwear from Victoria’s Secret. Do not be mistaken, there’s nothing healthy or wholesome going on here. A chocolate wafer crust serves as the bottom layer and atop it, a thick blanket of melty, chewy sweet and saltiness. Blondies are all about the butter and this recipe uses plenty but it calls for BROWN BUTTER which shakes things up. Rum (or bourbon in this case) and the nutty brown butter mingle with the mashed banana, and a sprinkling of maldon (or fleur de sel again, in this case), and yield a harmonious sweet and salty concoction.
These bars hit every trigger. Chocolate (to satisfy the blondie skeptics like myself), toasted walnuts for some crunch, banana (so you fool yourself into thinking you’re not too guilty) rum or bourbon (because c’mon, that’s just a brilliant idea), salt (to contrast the sweet) and brown butter (for a rich nuttiness that accentuates the banana). I took it a step further and drizzled the top with salted caramel. I just so happened to have some hanging around and I think it made the bars prettier. These are addicting. You’re going to need a lot of milk or maybe a little pour of bourbon. You might bring one to someone who will devour it in under two minutes. This will make you feel proud. You’ve been warned.
Brown Butter Banana Blondies slightly adapted from Melissa Clark, via the New York Times
- 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan *I used the full 12 Tbs for the filling but think you could easily cut back to 8 Tbs)
- chocolate wafer cookies (to make about 3 cups crumbs) *I use Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (the whole box)
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus a pinch
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 large eggs at room temp
- 2 1/3 cups dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons bourbon or dark rum
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
- fleur de sel, for sprinkling (optional)
- salted caramel (for drizzling—also optional)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment, and grease with butter. Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan over low heat or in microwave. Put the chocolate wafer cookies in the bowl of a food processor and process to make fine crumbs. Add the light brown sugar, melted butter and a pinch of salt. Process until the mixture is the consistency of damp sand. Dump the mixture into the pan and press it into an even layer. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the surface is firm.
Remove the pan and set aside. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 8 tablespoons butter, then let it cook until the foam subsides and butter turns a deep nut brown, about 5 minutes. Cool. In a large bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, dark brown sugar and bourbon or rum. Whisk in brown butter. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and fine salt. Fold into batter along with the toasted walnuts. Pour the mixture over the prepared crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle top with fleur de sel salt if using.
Transfer pan to oven and bake until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges with a few crumbs attached (or clean) but not wet, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Drizzle with salted caramel if you so desire. Cut into 24 bars. Try not to get too crazy.