Banana

A Very Good Thing to Make With All Those Overripe Bananas Sitting on Your Counter

Sticky banana-cocoa bars will change your life.

January 13, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Amelia Rampe. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.

I often bring home a bunch of bananas from the grocery store, thinking I’ll take them to work as a lunchtime dessert or midmorning snack. The very next day, I’ll forget about them, and before long they’ll blacken on the counter. My husband also buys a bunch of bananas and forgets to eat them, and our roommate too purchases enormous bunches of the fruit on his sporadic trips to the wholesale club. For some reason, everyone in our household thinks the fruit will be eaten, but it always ends up going to waste.

I wonder if this is unique to us or if it happens to other people, too.

Banana bread seems to be the be-all and end-all solution for using up overripe bananas, but almost every recipe I encounter calls for no more than a couple. I’m left wondering what to do with the remaining four to six in my kitchen that are starting to become a meeting place for flies. I certainly don’t want to make more than one loaf of banana bread. Banana bread frustrates me. A slice or two is fine, but it’s never been sweet or decadent enough for my flamboyant sweet tooth.

Not banana bread. Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Amelia Rampe. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.

One day, faced with a bunch of very ripe bananas nearing the ends of their lives, I decided to experiment with my pantry. I spread a shortbread cookie dough into a quarter sheet pan, topped it with slices of bananas, and drizzled everything with a whole can of condensed milk. I baked this until the condensed milk got sticky and caramelized at the edges and partially seeped into the cookie.

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Top Comment:
“I have at least six in there at all times, cuz it takes six to make a double batch of banana bread, which I always make with chocolate chunks and loads of walnuts or pecans. I also throw a tablespoon or so of dark cocoa into the batter. It's the best banana bread anyone's ever had. You can also keep bananas in the freezer for smoothies! ”
— Sarah M.
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Later addenda to this recipe included: a dusting of cocoa powder for some bitterness to offset the sweetness of the cookie base, and nuts for a little crunch to contrast the gooey condensed milk and soft banana. It tasted wonderful.

The best part? I haven’t wasted a banana since.

What do YOU do with your leftover bananas? Let us know in the comments below.
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I was born in Peru to a Limeño father and a Texan mother. We moved to Miami when I was five, and I grew up in the "Kendall-suyo" neighborhood—often called the 5th province of the Inca Empire because of its large Peruvian population. I've been writing about food since I was 11 years old, and in 2016 I received a master's degree in Gastronomy from Boston University. A travel columnist at Food52, I'm currently based in Hollywood, Florida—another vibrant Peruvian community—where I am a writer, culinary tour guide, and consultant.

19 Comments

Marie M. January 23, 2020
Hmmm - I just read this article on Slate. Hey - congrats! You thought up a totally unhealthy, unnecessary way to use a healthy fruit. Good for you. Freezing them in chunks to use in smoothies - not unique enough I guess.
 
Neen January 23, 2020
We all enjoy a splurge once in awhile.
Made this Bar cookie today & it was simple, fun, had grey eye appeal & worth every calorie! 👍 on the recipe Carlos! Thanks to Chefs who inspire us to Think Outside the Box.
That's what Food 52 is all about!

 
Sarah M. January 23, 2020
Everything in moderation. There's nothing unhealthy here unless you eat the whole bar and the average smoothie is about equal in sugar content. Don't you enjoy a nice treat?
 
Cookie January 23, 2020
My go-to is frozen banana "ice cream." Once the bananas become overripe, I cut them into 1" or 2" chunks, drop them into a ziplock, and freeze them. Throw the frozen pieces into a food processor, and you get a delicious creamy frozen desert with a consistency amazingly close to ice cream; I've had people mistake it for ice cream many times. Don't freeze the overripe bananas whole; you have to process them too long that way. With the small chunks, you get the perfect consistency quite fast. Try it, it's a game changer.
 
Neen January 23, 2020
An idea is to lay a banana sliced lengthwise on top of your banana bread batter before baking. (Uses up an extra banana too!). So pretty & gooey topped.
P.S. Do not press into batter
 
Author Comment
Carlos C. January 23, 2020
Thanks for the tip
 
Neen January 23, 2020
Truly love the idea here! 1 # of butter to 2 cup flour... that's the ratio for pie crust! Is the result a very sweet cookie & if so sticky would lining pan with parchment paper help with clean up ?
 
Author Comment
Carlos C. January 23, 2020
Yes. Definitely use parchment. It is VERY gooey when warm. So you need to chill overnight
 
Lou A. January 23, 2020
I freeze them whole, strip off the peel, make them into banana bread. I’d like other recipes for over ripe bananas....
 
Read January 23, 2020
This sounds very good. But 2 bananas in banana bread? The Cook's Illustrated (around 2010?) recipe calls for 6, so the final thing actually tastes like bananas. You either freeze/thaw or microwave 5 of them and boil down the juice that comes out (avoiding the banana-pudding texture you get from other high-banana recipes); the 6th gets shingled on top.
 
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Carlos C. January 23, 2020
Oh wow. Thatya banana-y banana bread! Will have to check it out when I’m in the mood
 
Sarah M. January 20, 2020
Hasn't anyone ever told you you can put those bananas in the freezer? I have at least six in there at all times, cuz it takes six to make a double batch of banana bread, which I always make with chocolate chunks and loads of walnuts or pecans. I also throw a tablespoon or so of dark cocoa into the batter. It's the best banana bread anyone's ever had. You can also keep bananas in the freezer for smoothies!
 
Author Comment
Carlos C. January 20, 2020
Oh. I know that trick already, but it would have to fight for space with the chicken feet, beef trotters, rocoto, aji amarillo, huacatay, aji limo, choclo, tamales, dumplings, banana leafs, naan, parathas, rice cakes, chili flakes, marzipan, corn husks, and just about everything else you can imagine. My freezer is so full of things, Ive actually been thinking about getting another freezer LOL. That banana bread sounds delicious, though.
 
Sarah M. January 20, 2020
It sounds like you need a chest freezer for sure.
 
Gigi B. January 15, 2020
I mix them with ready mix pack of pancakes....and then top them with peanut butter....
 
Jendem January 15, 2020
Assuming these aren't all eaten in one sitting (doubtful) how do you recommend storing the leftovers?
 
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Carlos C. January 16, 2020
Hahahaha. It was tempting to eat them all in one go, for sure. But store them in an airtight container with wax paper between the layers. Keep it in the fridge. You can even freeze them.
 
Barb S. January 14, 2020
This sounds amazing, and the banana thing happens in our house too. They ripen too fast unless you have a plan (bananas and ice cream?). I used to freeze them and use in smoothies. I was going to try a banana cake recipe. I’m tired of banana loaf. I will try your recipe too, it sounds amazing!
 
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Carlos C. January 16, 2020
Thank you! I hope you like them