One day I was wanting to make some blondies, which I’ve eaten plenty of in my day, but have never made. I thought it’d be a nice variation from chocolate chip cookies or brownies, or more accurately, a nice marriage of the two. As is custom now, the first thing I turn to for recipes or inspiration are food blogs. I came across Smitten Kitchen’s blondies recipe and the simplicity and flexibility of the recipe convinced me. That and the pictures. The base recipe is six little ingredients, two of them being salt and vanilla, and then she gives suggestions for all kinds of things you can add.
I was thinking to myself, “why not? A basic bar recipe and then I can throw in whatever I want?” I think I got a little carried away, as you’ll see, I didn’t end up making blondies (which I consider strictly a chocolate chip bar, a cookie in the bar form, or a brownie that’s blond, although that one I probably don’t need to explain). So when you start to add all that other stuff, like dried fruit, nuts, whiskey, etc., I think it moves out of the ‘blondie’ classification and into the larger ‘bar’ realm.
Obviously, I had no problem with this, the final baked product lasted maybe a little longer than 24 hours, but I wasn’t the only one snacking on them. Also, with all the extra things, I can no longer call them blondies and sleep at night, therefore, I present to you my Banana Chocolate Peanut Bourbon Bars. They’ll do the trick too, I promise.
Banana Chocolate Peanut Bourbon Bars
16 tbsp butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 cup peanuts
1 cup chocolate (I used 50% chopped into pieces, chocolate chips would work too though)
2 pretty ripe bananas (I only had one, so threw in a little Crème de Bananes to substitute)
Jim Beam (or some good bourbon) until you stick your finger into the batter and can taste it (that’s how I test, or you can measure something like ¼- ½ cup)
Now peanuts are a nut you don’t normally see baked in cookies or bars or most sorts of sweets, and I kind of discovered why. The day that I made the bars, the peanuts were soft, not as hard and crunchy as normal, but by the second day they had firmed up a bit, and my roommate told me I should have put more in. I did it because the flavor of peanuts goes so well with bananas and with chocolate.
First melt the butter, to some point between beginning to turn liquid and completely melted. Add the sugar and mix with a fork. Add the eggs and beat in well. Now add the flour and salt and mix everything to form your base dough. Mush up the bananas and when that’s done, add them along with the peanuts and chocolate to the dough. Remember, the amounts are all rough guides, if you want to throw in more chocolate, by all means, do so. Finally, pour in the Jim Beam. Like I said, I didn’t really measure mine, just kept pouring in until I could barely taste it. Because I put in a fair amount, I added some more flour to get the dough almost back to the consistency of the original dough so it wasn’t too liquidy. In a buttered glass dish (Smitten Kitchen says 8x8 for half the recipe I used, but here in Barcelona I’m limited with my equipment and grabbed an egg shaped dish whose measurements I have no idea about. My main concern is that they be thick.) pour the batter and put into an oven at 350 F. Cook for 20-25 minutes. I say that, although for me cooking times are completely variable, of course from oven to oven but also from person to person. I just checked on them every so often, sticking toothpicks in and finally took them out when the top was pretty browned but the insides were still gooey. Very gooey actually. Like I needed a spoon to eat them. I prefer things underdone and these definitely met my standards. On the day I cooked them, it was like eating warm batter with a cooked crust, which suites me just fine. The next day, they firmed up and held their shape more, but I’m happy eating the batter before it’s cooked, so gooey bars have never been a problem for me. If you don’t want so gooey, be careful because mine were underdone but still very brown. Move them to the bottom wrack of the over if the top is getting too dark. Or you can take them out and serve them the next day because after the melted chocolate cools down as well as the bars themselves, they're less gooey and more of just a good, really moist bar.