Whiskey Caramel Banana Bars

Over-ripe BANANAS!  A gift from the dessert heavens!

Do you need to find a recipe for those bananas that have been sitting on your counter too long?  You've come to the right place.  I can't even remember the last time I ate a banana when it wasn't baked into something.  That could be abnormal, eh...possibly unhealthy.

Okay, so let's agree, eat one banana, then bake the rest!

Whiskey Caramel Banana Bars
adapted from Une Gamine Dans la Cuisine

-1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
-3 c. graham cracker crumbs
-1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. cardamom (can be replaced with cinnamon)

-3/4 c. unsalted butter, browned
-3 ripe bananas, mashed
-2 eggs, room temperature
-1 1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
-1 Tbsp. whiskey (I used Maker's Mark)
-1 c. flour
-1/2 tsp. salt

-1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1 Tbsp. whiskey
-2 Tbsp. milk

-Salted Caramel Sauce for drizzling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper and coat evenly with non-stick cooking spray.  Combine the crust ingredients in a bowl and stir until mixture resembles wet sand.  Spread crust mixture evenly into prepared pan and press down firmly.  Bake for 5 minutes and remove from oven.

Turn oven off.  Brown your butter by placing the 3/4 c. butter in a light bottom pan over medium heat.  Butter will melt and start to foam.  Watch butter carefully and start stirring because the butter will start to brown and give off a "nutty" aroma.  Once the butter is a nice dark brown, remove from heat and pour butter into bowl.  Let cool (this can be sped up in the fridge).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, whisk mashed bananas, (cooled) browned butter, eggs, brown sugar, and whiskey.  Add the flour and salt and fold into the batter until combined-no large lumps of flour.  Pour banana mix over graham cracker crust and spread evenly.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Remove from oven and let bars cool on a rack.

In a bowl, add powdered sugar and salt.  Whisk in whiskey, and then slowly whisk in milk until you get your desired pouring consistency.  Add more or less whiskey/milk depending on how strong you want the whiskey flavor.  Pour over your bars and spread around evenly.  Drizzle desired amount of salted caramel sauce over the top.  I use Trader Joe's salted caramel sauce, you can find your own, or make your own!

Cut and enjoy!

I would like to make these having brown butter in the crust as well, but I didn't have time for that when I made them the first time around.  The banana part is almost cake-like and has that nice crust for  contrasting texture.  The glaze adds a nice sweetness but carries a lot of the whiskey flavor.  I thought the bars had a subtle spicy finish from the whiskey and cardamom.

Other banana recipes of mine to enjoy:
~Kicked-Up Banana Muffins
~Chocolate Covered Banana Whoopie Pies

Coffee Toffee Brownies

 I hope you weren't looking for a plain brownie.  And I hope you enjoy coffee and dark chocolate.  Together.

I've said it in the past, that coffee really intensifies the chocolate flavor in a lot of baked goods.  I add strong brewed coffee to my favorite chocolate cake recipe for instance.  You can't taste the coffee in that, but you can most certainly taste it in these brownies!  But that is what I want, and so this is your fair warning if you don't like coffee!  So move along, you weird non-coffee lovers! ( I still love you, though)

Symphony Bars and toffee bits add a wonderful buttery crunch and texture that also make these brownies a little more unique.  But what really takes these brownies over the top is the coffee glaze.  I'm telling you, that the glaze is completely optional, but its touch of caramel color and sweetness really balances out the deep, dark chocolate flavor of this sophisticated brownie.

*This is a large pan!  You can half the recipe, just watch your baking time!

Coffee Toffee Brownies
adapted from Ina Garten

-1 lb. unsalted butter
-1 lb. bittersweet chocolate chips
-6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
-7 large eggs
-3 Tbsp. instant espresso coffee granules (link)
-2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
-2 1/4 c. sugar
-1 1/4 c. flour, divided
-1 Tbsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. salt
-3, 4.25 Symphony Bars, chopped
-4 oz. (half a bag) Heath toffee bits 'o brickle, divided

Line a 10x15 pan with parchment paper and coat with non-stick cooking spray.

Place a large bowl, containing both chocolates and butter, over a pot of simmering water.  Stir occasionally and remove from heat once chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.  Cool slightly to where chocolate is warm to touch.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar.  Slowly stir in warm chocolate until combined.  Set aside and let mixture cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, baking powder, and salt.  Fold into cooled chocolate mixture.

In a small bowl, add 1/4 cup of flour to chopped Symphony chocolate bars and toss to coat.  Fold in to chocolate batter.

Pour batter and spread evenly into prepared pan.  Sprinkle half of your toffee bits over the batter.

Bake for 20 minutes, then tap pan on it's oven shelf to break up air bubbles, bake for additional 12-15 minutes.  Toothpick should come out clean or a couple small crumbs, not coated in batter.

Cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate for 4-8 hours, mine was overnight!  If you do not refrigerate, these brownies are cake-like and crumbly, which is fine if you like that, but they are fudge- like once they've been refrigerated!

Coffee Glaze

-2 c. powdered sugar
-2 Tbsp. melted salted butter
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-3-4 Tbsp. strong brewed coffee

Add melted butter, vanilla, and 3 Tbsp. coffee to powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Add more coffee for a thinner glaze.

Pour over brownies, and then sprinkle with remaining toffee bits.

Cut into 24 large brownies and serve!

Fried Ice Cream and Strawberry Margaritas!

Cinco de Mayo is Sunday.  Here in America, it's a great reason to get out, immerse yourself in the culture and enjoy some authentic Mexican cuisine and drink.  If you can't get out, today I'm bringing it to you!

Now, who remembers Chi-Chi's?  If you've never heard of the place, it was a "Mexican" restaurant chain and we had one locally.  My recollection was that the food was terrible, and the restaurant seemed kinda dark and for lack of a better word, gross.  Perhaps just some of the reasons Chi-Chi's are no more.   But that didn't stop my friend Betsy and I from going to munch on free chips and salsa and share a fried ice cream.  We were cheap...we were high schoolers.

Anyway, what matters about this story is that the fried ice cream ROCKED.  I think back then your choices of toppings were chocolate, strawberry, and honey-I'm iffy on the strawberry existence.  Now, normally I'm a chocolate girl, 110%, but there is something about honey on fried ice cream that makes it AMAZING.

I miss good fried ice cream, but I'm here to say that if you miss it too or are just curious to try it, you must make this recipe because it is easy and delicious.  Plus, if you're trying to find an excuse to eat fried ice cream, then it's in celebration of Cinco de Mayo!

Disclaimer!  This is not authentic "fried" ice cream, but an amazing riff on the real thing.  Authentic is a breaded ice cream ball that has been deep fried.  If you can get your hands on some of the real thing, then obviously you must have it.

Fried Ice Cream
adapted from The Imperfect Housewife

*I chose to make this in 8, individual 4 oz. Glad containers for portion control and one 8x8 pan to take to work.  You could do a 9x13 or any size you prefer.  My ratio of crumb is same amount on top as on the bottom.

-1 stick salted butter
-6 c. cornflakes, crushed
-1 c. granulated sugar
-1.75 qt. vanilla bean ice cream
-8 oz. container whipped topping, like Cool Whip, thawed
-2 tsp. ground cinnamon
-honey and whipped cream for topping, as desired

Remove ice cream from freezer.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add crushed cornflakes and sugar.  Stir constantly for 5 minutes.  Sugar will start to melt and flakes will start to brown and caramelize.  Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to stop the cooking process.

Prep containers.  Add 2 Tbsp. of cornflake mix to the bottom of each 4 oz. container and 1 c. to bottom of 8x8 pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add ice cream.  Stir on low until it is smooth.  Add thawed whipped topping and cinnamon.  Mix on low until the ingredients are incorporated and mixture is creamy.

Work quickly to avoid a melty mess!  Add 2 level, 2 oz. scoops of ice cream mix to each 4 oz. container.  Add remaining ice cream mix to 8x8 and level with an offset spatula.  Top small containers with 2 more Tbsp. of cornflake mix, add lid and freeze.  Add remaining cornflakes to 8x8, cover and freeze.

Before serving, drizzle with desired amount of honey.  Whipped cream is optional, but yummy if you have it!


Are you ready for this?!  First boozy beverage on Cookie Crazed Mama!   So how about something for Happy Hour to further celebrate Cinco de Mayo?!  Strawberry Margaritas!

Strawberry Margaritas
adapted from PBS

-16 oz. bag frozen strawberries
-1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
-6 Tbsp. water
-4 oz. tequila
-3 oz. Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Triple Sec
-2 small limes, juiced
-sugar or salt for rim
-fresh organic strawberries for garnish

In a medium size saucepan add strawberries, sugar, and water.  Bring to a simmer over a low/medium heat.  Continue to simmer for 30 minutes until strawberries break down and liquid appears dark and syrupy.  Remove from heat and blend in a food processor until mixture is smooth.  Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds.  Transfer to a container and cover.  Refrigerate or freeze until cool.

In a cocktail shaker, add 1/3 c. strawberry puree, then layer with tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice, and a handful of ice.  Shake and divide into two glasses with ice, rimmed with salt or sugar- I prefer sugar!  Garnish with a fresh strawberry.

Now sit back and relax!  You deserve it!