Confession time - I succumbed to the marked-down, slightly-browned bananas when I was at the grocery store recently, despite having a huge resealable bag full of them in my freezer. You can never have too many bananas, right? That's my theory and I'm sticking to it. They've been sitting on our island starting at me all week, begging to be used. I'm sure I'll make some banana bread eventually, but first I wanted to try something completely different. I remembered a recipe for banana split brownies I'd seen in the recent issue of Fine Cooking - the chocolate and banana combo sounded like a winner, and the toasted marshmallows on top sealed the deal for me.
Consider yourself warned - these brownies are uber rich! I thought they were delicious, but I couldn't even finish one by myself, which is not typically a problem I have :) The base is a fudgy brownie that starts with browned butter; the batter is made entirely in the saucepan in which the butter is browned, and couldn't be easier. Banana appears twice in the recipe, first here in the brownie base and later in the ganache. One mashed banana is incorporated into the brownie batter and keeps the brownies moist as well as lending just a little banana flavor. One chopped banana is steeped in the cream that is combined with chocolate to make the ganache spread over the top of the brownies. In the final step, mini marshmallows and almonds are sprinkled over the ganache and popped under the broiler until they are toasted and brown. I anticipated the brownies being tricky to cut with all of the marshmallows on top, but if you follow the suggestion to use a slightly wet knife you won't have any problems.
No good banana split is complete without at least one scoop of ice cream, but we didn't have any in the house when I made this recipe. I won't make that mistake again - I think a scoop of vanilla ice cream would have been the perfect accompaniment to my brownie. The next time you find yourself with bananas on the counter that are starting to look a little brown, I recommend taking a break from banana bread to try these banana split brownies. You won't be sorry :)
Banana Split Brownies
from Fine Cooking, February/March 2011
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup mashed overripe banana (about 1 medium banana)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (3 oz) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (2 1/2 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped ripe banana (about 1 medium)
7 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (55-62% cacao), finely chopped
2 cups mini marshmallows
1/4 cup sliced almonds
To make the brownies: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch square metal baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides so you can lift the brownies out. Spray the foil with cooking spray with flour (or butter and flour the foil).
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it smells nutty and is golden in color, about 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the butter cool for 5 minutes. Add the sugar and salt to the pan and whisk to combine. Whisk in the eggs, banana and vanilla. Finally, add the flour and cocoa powder and whisk until all ingredients are combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool.
To make the topping: while the brownies are cooling, bring the heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped banana. Cover the pan and let steep for 1 hour.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Return the cream (with the banana still in the pan) to a boil, stirring occasionally. Pour the cream through a strainer into the bowl with the chocolate. Discard the banana in the strainer. Let the chocolate/cream mixture stand for 1 minute then stir until smooth. Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread evenly.
Preheat your oven's broiler and set a rack about 6 inches from the heating element. Distribute the marshmallows and almonds over the top of the ganache. Put the pan under the broiler - watch it very carefully and turn the pan frequently - until the marshmallows are browned. (I tried to do this with my torch and thought it was much more difficult - marshmallows kept catching on fire!)
Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool until the ganache is set, at least 1 1/2 hours. Lift the brownies from the pan using the foil handles. Cut the brownies using a wet knife, which will keep the marshmallows from sticking.