This one goes out to my husband who's never met a banana he didn't want to caramelize. I decided to try his favorite simple dessert as a crisp and, what do you know? It inspired monkey dances all around.
Choose ripe, but not too soft, bananas for this recipe. I know it sounds like a lot of bananas, but, trust me, they do cook down quite a bit. Plus it's a popular one so you might as well make a lot. If you want to make the *Drunken* Monkey version of this crisp, add a couple of tablespoons of rum instead of vanilla. Eep! Eep! —vrunka
In a mixing bowl. combine the topping ingredients: butter, flour, almonds, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Crumble it together with your fingers to make a crumbly, chunky mixture. (This can be made ahead of time if need be).
Set the oven to 400 degrees.
Peel and slice the bananas on the diagonal ( in order to increase the surface area which means more caramelized goodness).
In a 10-inch cast iron skillet (or other stovetop and oven safe pan) over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and add half the sliced bananas. Spread them out in a single layer as much as possible and let sit undisturbed for 2 minutes. Stir them a bit and try to get any un-browned sides facing down and let sit for 2 minutes more. Remove to a separate dish and repeat this process with the rest of the butter and bananas.
After the second batch of bananas is done, add back the first batch along with brown sugar and vanilla. Stir well, but carefully (try not to smoosh the bananas too much) to combine and let sit over medium heat for one minute more.
Add the crumble topping over the top. Put the whole pan in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, or until the topping has crisped up and the filling is bubbly. Let it cool slightly before serving. You may top it with fresh cream, whipped cream, or ice cream if you like.