My sister Dawn made the best banana bars with cream cheese frosting and I had been craving them ever since our birthday party for our Mom. Unfortunately Dawn didn’t bookmark the recipe so I had to do some searching. She said she hadn’t used buttermilk, and had used oil instead of butter, and that’s all I had to go on. Eeek!
Talking to daughter Emily one day she said she had a friend who made the best banana bars ever. Everyone always asked for the recipe. Emily sent me the link and it looked close enough. Dawn had said she found the cream cheese frosting recipe on the Food Network, so I found one there and used it. It wasn’t outstandingly different from any other recipe. You could just use your go-to cream cheese frosting recipe if you have one.
Next was my search for brown bananas. I was making the banana bars for a picnic in 3 days and didn’t have time to kill any bananas. Unfortunately none of the grocery stores had any brown ones and I had to buy 3 that still had a slight green to them along with a couple of brown spots. I left them in the car while I was at work on a hot day, and they did age to more brown, slightly. I searched to see if anyone had quick ideas and realized I could bake them. I decided to go with how they were and hope for the best.
I measured and mixed all of the ingredients besides the bananas. Then I read the recipe and decided I’d made a huge mistake. Then I decided to continue and see what came of my mistake. (It was fine, the bars were still amazing). I used an electric mixer to get it all evenly incorporated.
The bananas were mashed using a hand potato masher, and were a little more work since they weren’t as ripe as I’d have liked. But they were eventually mostly mushy. I added the bananas to the bowl and used the mixer to stir them in well.
I poured the banana batter into a jellyroll pan I’d sprayed with cooking oil. The recipe said “jellyroll pan” and I was unsure which of my stack of pans to use. I hit Google for a definition and it was not very helpful. Apparently a jelly roll pan can vary in size! Some said 18” x 13”, some said 15” x 10”. I decided I wanted my bars thicker, rather than thinner, so I used one of my 15” x 10” pan.
The pan was perfect! It didn’t overflow, which was what I’d worried about in choosing the wrong size. My bars were about 1 ½” tall and that kept them moist and delicious.
I chose a cream cheese frosting recipe that was meant for a red velvet cake. I don’t know what the difference would be; isn’t cream cheese frosting just cream cheese frosting? I used 2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese at room temp, a stick of butter, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I beat them well until smooth and creamy, then started adding powdered sugar until I got the right consistency. That would be nearly 2 whole pounds of powdered sugar later! But it was definitely delicious!
My frosting layer was quite thick. The frosting recipe could have probably been halved and it would still have been adequate. But it was done and we loved the thick frosting. We loved the flavor of the bar itself of course. For such a large pan and only 3 bananas, the banana flavor was very good.
The bars were wonderfully moist, which I didn’t think would happen without using buttermilk as I do in my banana bread recipe. I made them on a Friday and by the following Thursday (when we finished them off) they were still moist and fresh. I kept them refrigerated, due to the cream cheese frosting. I can’t wait to make them again!
Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cups sour cream
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 C mashed banana (I used 3 large bananas)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of your mixer, cream sugar, sour cream and butter. Beat in eggs, bananas and vanilla.
In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and stir to mix. Add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Pour into a greased, 15″ x10″ x 1″ jelly roll pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until bars test done. Cool.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
16 ounces cream cheese; room temp
1 stick butter; room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 lbs powdered sugar (I used most of a full bag)
pinch of salt
In a large bowl beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Slowly add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until you have the consistency you desire. Spread over cake or bars.
Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before cutting into bars. Store in refrigerator.