Have you ever set out in search of one thing and ended up searching for something else altogether? That was my experience last week when I set out to find a recipe other than my usual standbys, banana-nut muffins and banana bread, that would make use of two bananas that were very quickly transitioning from overly ripe to black. I found a recipe for Banana Chocolate-Chip Squares in my King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook that would make use of the bananas. Except the recipe called for spelt flour, and the last thing I needed to purchase was yet another variety of flour. Unless….
So I set out to find a recipe that called for spelt flour. If you had an opportunity to read my last post, you already know my search led to Soft Currant Drops, which was great in its own right because it made use of the currants I baked in the Traditional Easter Cookies. And then I wrote the three posts in reverse order of my recipe search just to keep you on your toes.
What is spelt flour? According to the label on the Bob’s Red Mill spelt flour package, “Spelt is a non-hybrid primitive relative of our present day wheat that dates back more than 9,000 years.” The packaging also stated spelt flour can be used in most recipes calling for wheat flour, especially yeast and quick breads. I am definitely looking forward to trying this substitution because, though I like the idea of baking with whole grain flour, I do not like what I consider to be the earthy, gritty taste of wheat flour.
Fortunately, I had no trouble finding spelt flour. I purchased Bob’s Red Mill brand spelt flour at my local Earth Fare, though other grocery stores in my area also carry Bob’s Red Mill products. In addition to Bob’s Red Mill, Earth Fare carries many other brands of packaged spelt flour as well as selling spelt flour in the bulk section. Please note, it is not my intention for this post to sound like a commercial for either Earth Fare or Bob’s Red Mill, but I did want to share my experience since I definitely think using spelt flour in this recipe is worth it.
The original Banana Chocolate-Chip Squares recipe called for topping the bars with one cup of chocolate chips and one cup of walnuts. Heaven forbid I follow a recipe as written, so I made the bars my own by topping them with one cup of chocolate chips, 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips and 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips. Alas, King Arthur’s Banana Chocolate-Chip Squares were transformed into LeAndra’s Triple Chip Banana Bars. I also experimented by topping half of the banana squares with chocolate. After the squares cooled, I melted three ounces of chocolate with two tablespoons of butter and poured the mixture over the top of the cooled banana bars.
I shared my Triple Chip Banana Bars with co-workers, and the recipe was deemed a keeper. One friend suggested the banana bars could be improved if baked on top of a crisp crust, and I agree a bite of crunch would provide a nice balance to the very tender banana bars. What we could not figure out was exactly how to implement this. Pie crust does not sound appetizing, but maybe a chocolate cookie crumb would work? As for the verdict on the plain or chocolate-topped bars, the preference was a (banana) split at 50-50. Enjoy!
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter
- ¼ cups light or dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup mashed banana (from 2 or 3 overly ripe bananas)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1¾ cups spelt flour
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- optional ingredients
- ½ cup white chocolate chips
- ½ cup butterscotch chips
- 1 cup walnuts
- Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
- Beat in the banana, lemon juice, and vanilla.
- Add the egg and continue to mix while sprinkling in the cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
- Add the spelt flour and mix until incorporated.
- Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan.
- Sprinkle the desired mix of chips and nuts on top.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes until the center is firm.
- If at all possible, allow to rest overnight before cutting and enjoying.