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Monday, March 25, 2013

Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

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You’ve heard the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, right? Well in this case, one woman’s ripe bananas are another woman’s treasure! My friend Juli loves bananas, but only up to a certain point of ripeness (lightly speckled). Whenever her bananas cross that threshold, she brings them to work for me. It’s not uncommon for me to have a few bananas stinking up my cubicle at the end of the week, when she brings me her “trash”. I gladly accept because even though I buy two bunches of bananas a week, they’re almost always gone before I have a chance to do anything fun with them.
To me, of course, Juli’s bananas are hardly ripe! I usually let them ripen for several more days before I peel and freeze them. Lately I’ve been using them faster than I can freeze them. Most weekend mornings I start the day off with a spinach smoothie (ensuring that if the rest of that day’s eating goes to crap, at least I had something green). Any other leftover bananas have been finding their way into a batch of my new favorite bananabread. Wanting to change things up a bit, I decided to make some banana bars with cream cheese frosting…and now I think all other forms of ripe banana usage should be on the lookout because these are some serious competition!
Adapted from a Taste of Home recipe, I significantly reduced the sugar, both in the bars (by 1 cup) and the frosting (by 2 cups). The end result was still plenty sweet, and that’s coming from the Sweet Tooth Queen herself! The bars are light and cakey, with visible flecks of banana, and the cream cheese frosting makes it all better—because when doesn’t cream cheese frosting make something better?!

So long as “trashed” bananas keep heading my way, you can expect to see more banana baked goods around here!

One Year Ago: Carrot-Ginger Salad
Two Years Ago: Broiled Tilapia Gyros
Three Years Ago: Portabella Pita Pizzas

Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting 
adapted from Taste of Home

-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1 cup granulated sugar
-3 eggs
-3 medium ripe bananas
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-dash salt

for the frosting-
-1 (8 oz) package 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
-4 tbsp butter, softened
-2 cups confectioners' sugar
-2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in the bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and beat just until blended.
2. Line a 15 x 10 inch baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Place pan on a wire rack to cool.
3. To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Spread frosting on cooled bars.