Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cake of the Week: Banana Rum Bars

Drop everything and make these now!!!

For reals guys, I’m picturing a Venn diagram of all the banana things I’ve made, all the bars things I’ve made, and all the really really really good things I’ve made, and these Banana Rum Bars are smack-dab in the middle.

These are in the top-whatever of bars I have ever made ever. They’re like lemon bars (i.e. have a graham cracker crust and fruity topping), but with browned butter and rum and banana. They are also pretty dense – there’s nothing banana pudding or jello-y about these. (Luckily! Blegghh I hate banana pudding.)

I made a batch (9x13 pan) for our party on Saturday and they were gone super-fast and for good reason. There’s kind of a lot of salt involved, which I think is what made them SO awesome – everyone loves salty and sweet (especially boys, why is that?). They also came out of the pan really easily (every time something doesn’t stick I high-five myself, heave a sigh of relief, and dance a happy dance of joy in my kitchen), and cut very neatly.

Banana Rum Bars

For the crust
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 14 whole graham crackers, or 2 sleeves)
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the filling
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 mashed, ripe, bananas 
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rum (or vanilla)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
For the glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rum (you may need more or less rum, or more or less sugar depending on humidity/consistency)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and/or line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper or foil. (I used oil to grease the pan, then used the paper wrappers from the butter to line the bottom…aka I never have parchment paper). 
  2. Prepare the crust: In a large bowl (or in a food processer), combine the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs (put the graham crackers in a bag and crush away! Or food process them if you’re feeling less aggressive than my good self), brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse or stir until the mixture resembles heavy, wet, sand. 
  3. Press the sandy mixture onto the bottom of prepared pan. If it's too sticky, use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crust down into an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the pan onto a cooling rack.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. 
  5. Prepare the filling: In a small saucepan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Increase the heat to medium and, stirring occasionally, cook the butter, stirring/swirling the pan occasionally, until it turns golden brown and develops a nutty aroma. Depending on the stove's heat, it can take 5-8 minutes for the butter to brown properly. Once is smells like AMAZING, remove the pan from the heat and let the butter cool to room temperature. 
  6. In a separate large mixing bowl, mash the bananas (so many opportunities to smash things in this recipe!) and then mix in the eggs, brown sugar, and rum. Add the cool brown butter and whisk until well combined. Using a spatula or large spoon, fold in the flour and salt. 
  7. Scrape the batter over the partially-baked crust and spread the batter into an even layer. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes up with only a few moist crumbs. (Start checking it at 35 minutes)
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool completely before adding the glaze.
  9. Prepare the glaze: In a large mixing bowl, whisk powdered sugar, rum, and salt. Whisk until smooth. If it's too thick to drizzle, add about 1 teaspoon of rum at a time until it’s thin enough.  Use a spoon or fork to drizzle the glaze over the cooled bars. Let them cool in the fridge completely, then cut and serve at room temperature.