Banana Bread Crumb Cake Bars

Having already tackled cookies, cake, cheesecake and cobbler, I wasn’t sure what dessert categories I had left. But, of course, I was forgetting one of the most basic dessert forms: bars!

Bars were a staple growing up in my family. Almost any dessert could be made in bar form, and some even tasted better that way. Not to mention, bars make for easy preparation and storage.

I came across a picture for this banana bread crumb cake bar recipe and couldn’t help but click. That brought me to the blog Cookies & Cups, heaven for a dessert lover such as myself.

This was another great, simple recipe for a busy week of Thanksgiving preparations, which had me driving all over town last night in search of key lime juice for my family-famous key lime pie.

Which brings me to an announcement:

That recipe, along with 14 other family favorites, will be featured in a holiday cookbook I will be releasing next week! Keep an eye out for a link on the top menu to the PDF version.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Banana Bread Crumb Cake Bars, Step-by-Step Photos

Spray a 9×13” baking dish and set aside. Add 2 cups flour to a medium bowl.

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Add 3 teaspoons baking powder.

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Add 1 teaspoon salt, and whisk ingredients together. Set aside.

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In a large bowl, mash 3 ripe bananas until they become liquefied.

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Add ½ cup butter, room temperature, and mix until combined. Having forgotten to set out my butter ahead of time, I cheated and slightly melted mine in the microwave.

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Add 2 cups sugar.

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Add 2 eggs.

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Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, and mix well.

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Stir in flour mixture and 1 cup milk until well combined.

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For the crumb filling/topping, add 2 cups flour to a small bowl.

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Add 1 cup cold butter, cubed.

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Add 2 cups brown sugar and cut together with a pastry cutter (I used a fork and my hands) until a coarse crumb forms. (In attempting to soften my brick of brown sugar using the moist paper towel and microwave method, I punched in the wrong time and completely melted it. Therefore, I had to substitute regular sugar, which can be used to replace brown sugar in a recipe in a 1:1 ratio. The taste will be slightly different; if you happen to have molasses on hand, adding 2 teaspoons per cup of white sugar will actually create a brown sugar.)

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Pour ½ of the batter into the prepared pan.

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Top with 1/3 of crumb mixture.

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Pour the rest of the batter into the pan, then top with remaining crumb mixture.

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Bake for 50-55 minutes at 350 degrees until center is set and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes.

OPTIONAL:

In the meantime, combine 1 cup powdered sugar and 1-2 tablespoons milk in a small bowl to create a glaze.

Drizzle over bars, and serve warm or at room temperature.

(Given how much sugar went into the bars already, I decided the added glaze would be too sweet for me, so I skipped this.)

Enjoy!

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Look at that texture!

I have to say, this recipe wasn’t a home run for me. Perhaps it was the sugar substitution, but I found the bars low on any flavor other than sweetness. Then again, maybe this recipe just isn’t to my taste. One thing I think would have improved it (besides using the correct sugar) is the addition of some chopped nuts, to make it more reminiscent of banana bread (which I love). I would encourage you to give it a shot, though, and share your experience!


 

Banana Bread Crumb Cake Bars Recipe

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

For the bars:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk

For the crumb filling and topping:

  • 1 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour

For the glaze (optional):

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

1. Spray a 9×13” baking dish and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mash bananas until they become liquefied. Mix in butter until combined, then stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla until mixed well.

4. Stir in flour mixture and milk until combined.

5. Prepare crumb filling/topping by combining all ingredients and cutting them together until a coarse crumb forms.

6. Pour ½ of the batter into the prepared pan. Top with 1/3 of the crumb mixture, then pour in remaining batter and top with remaining crumb mixture.

7. Bake for 50-55 minutes at 350 degrees until the center is set and a toothpick comes out clean.

8. Cool 10 minutes, then drizzle with glaze (optional). Can be served warm or at room temperature.

 

If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below!

 

 

Chocolate Cobbler

In keeping with my theme thus far of experimenting with a new category of dessert each week, I’d been keeping an eye out for a different form of sweet deliciousness. I came across a recipe for chocolate cobbler on Facebook, and while it’s a dessert I’ve heard of, it’s one I’ve never tried to make – nor eaten, for that matter (the most important part).

This recipe from Tasty Kitchen (and featured on The Pioneer Woman) seemed easy enough, and had high ratings from readers. Looking at it, I was reminded of molten chocolate cake, one of my go-to desserts – but this recipe looked so much simpler! It seemed like the perfect recipe for an already busy week of cooking and baking for the Thanksgiving crowd. Plus, you’ve gotta love a family recipe!

Thank you to Tasty Kitchen and author Sooz Hawkins (and her grandmother!) for this week’s recipe!


Chocolate Cobbler, Step-by-Step Photos

Add 1 cup flour to a mixing bowl.

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Add 2 teaspoons baking powder.

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Add ¼ teaspoon salt.

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Add 3 tablespoons cocoa powder.

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Add ¾ cup sugar.

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Mix well.

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Add ½ cup milk.

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Add 1/3 cup melted butter.

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Add 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla, and stir to combine, mixing until smooth – it should resemble a brownie batter.

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Pour the mixture into an ungreased 8×8” CorningWare (or similar material) baking dish.

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Add the remaining ½ cup of sugar to a small bowl.

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Add ½ cup brown sugar, packed.

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Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of cocoa.

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Mix well, then sprinkle evenly over the batter. Some clumps may form during mixing; you can break them up using your fingers, or simply leave them.

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Pour 1 ½ cup hot tap water over the batter and topping. Do not stir!

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Bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees until the center is set.

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Cool for a few minutes before serving a la mode.

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This must have been one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made (no mixer required!), and it really did have the warm, gooey molten cake quality I was hoping for. It was almost like a cross between a brownie and hot fudge. The combination with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream was absolutely perfect, creating a mix of rich chocolate and creamy vanilla flavors and hot and cold temperatures (not to mention, the ice cream cools it down enough that you can eat it right out of the oven).


Chocolate Cobbler Recipe

Yield: about 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons cocoa powder, divided
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups hot tap water

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, 3 tablespoons cocoa and 3/4 cup sugar.

2. Stir the milk, butter and vanilla into the flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

3. Pour the mixture into an ungreased 8×8″ CorningWare (or similar material) baking dish.

4. In a small bowl, mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar and remaining 4 tablespoons cocoa. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the batter.

5. Pour hot tap water over the batter/topping in the baking dish. Do not stir!

6. Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees until set.

7. Cool for a few minutes, then serve with ice cream.

If you try this recipe or have any tips to share, leave a comment below!

 

 

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Cookies

With the holidays right around the corner, I found myself craving a new cookie recipe to add to my book of go-to recipes. Cookies are appropriate for just about any occasion, and –for the most part, although I seem to be the one who often proves this wrong – they’re harder to mess up than cakes or pies, which makes them perfect for social gatherings. They’re quick to prepare, can be easily sized up or down in quantity, appealing to most tastes and easy to store as leftovers.

This raspberry almond shortbread cookie recipe from Parent Pretty (originally appearing in Better Homes & Gardens magazine) reminded me of one of my all-time-favorite recipes for butter-based almond cookies, but with the addition of the raspberry texture and taste – not to mention, six ingredients and three steps sounded pretty appealing after a long day.

Crissy, author of Parent Pretty, raved about this recipe, calling it her “hands-down favorite recipe of the year.” Her commenters seemed pretty pleased with it, too, so I decided to give it a try.

Thank you to Crissy of Parent Pretty and to Better Homes & Gardens for this week’s recipe!


 

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Cookies, Step-by-Step Photos

Start by adding 1 cup of softened butter to a mixing bowl.

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Beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds until smooth.

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Add 2/3 cup granulated sugar.

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Add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract and beat until well combined.

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Gradually mix in 2 cups of flour.

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Cover the dough and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until it is easy to handle. (Mine was pretty stiff, but I refrigerated just in case).

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

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Using your thumb, press an indentation into the center of each ball. (I actually found that it was easier to create the right shape using my middle finger).

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Spoon 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of seedless raspberry jam into each cookie.

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Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute, then transfer to a rack to cool.

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My first dozen at the 10 minute cook time in the original recipe came out slightly overdone and pretty flat – not quite like the recipe photographs. In addition, they were overly crispy and that affected the taste. For the second dozen, I reduced cooking time to 8 minutes. This was the result:

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An improvement, certainly, but I still wasn’t satisfied. For the final dozen, I stuck with my 8-minute cook time, but I added a step and refrigerated the cookies for 5 minutes after shaping them (and before adding the jam). Butter that is too warm before baking causes cookies to spread out in the oven, and I suspected that the process of rolling and shaping the cookies was warming up the butter in the dough too much. I also used my middle finger to make a vertical impression in the dough, rather than at an angle, and used just 1/4 teaspoon of jam to fill each cookie to just below the edge of the depression. I thought this would improve the appearance of the cookies, and I had found the amount of jam (which is essentially sugar) to be overpoweringly sweet in the first two batches.

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Finally, I achieved the result I wanted. Not only did this batch look better, the taste and texture were much improved.

For the icing, add 1 cup powdered sugar to a small bowl.

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Add 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract.

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Add 1 teaspoon water, and stir. Add more water if necessary to achieve a consistency that will drizzle.

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Use a spoon, toothpick or fork to drizzle icing over the cookies in a back-and-forth motion. Here is a Better Homes & Gardens tutorial for drizzling.

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Enjoy!

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Recipes can be refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen to serve in a month or two.

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After I got this recipe down, it was a home run. I’m a sucker for butter cookies, and the almond in these adds a fantastic flavor. The amount of jam in the final batch was perfect for my husband and me, with just the right amount of sweetness allowing the flavor of the cookie dough to come through. Factor in simple instructions, six ingredients (most of which are household staples) and an easily adjustable yield, and this recipe is one for the book!


 

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Cookies Recipe 

Yield: 3 dozen

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup seedless raspberry jam

For the drizzle:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract

1. In a medium bowl, beat butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the 2/3 cup granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon almond extract. Beat until well combined. Gradually mix in the 2 cups of flour. Cover the dough and chill for 1 hour or until easy to handle.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Using your thumb, press an indentation into the center of each ball. (Optional: Refrigerate 5-10 minutes to re-firm dough). Spoon ¼-1/2 teaspoon of jam into each cookie. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on cookie sheet for one minute before transferring to cooling rack.

3. For icing, in a small bowl combine powdered sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract and 1 teaspoon water. Add water as needed to achieve drizzling consistency. Use a spoon, toothpick or fork to drizzle cookies using a back-and-forth motion, and enjoy.

 

If you try this recipe or have any tips to share, leave a comment below!