Sticky Banana-Cocoa Bars

January 13, 2020
6 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Amelia Rampe. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Makes 1 quarter sheet pan of bars
Author Notes

This is one of the best ways to use up a bunch of bananas that are about to go bad. You will want to cut yourself a little piece right from the oven, but resist the temptation. Let the bars cool in the sheet pan until they reach room temperature. You can have a slice at this point, but these are best when you allow them to rest in the refrigerator overnight. It’s an exercise in patience but so worth it. —Carlos C. Olaechea

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: A Very Good Thing to Make With All Those Overripe Bananas Sitting on Your Counter. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup pecans (or any type of nut)
  • 4 very ripe bananas, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  1. Lightly grease a quarter sheet pan and cover the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Place the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt into a food processor. Cover and pulse a few times until the dry ingredients are well-combined.
  3. Add the butter all at once and pulse until the butter and the dry ingredients form a sandy consistency. Add the nuts and pulse again until everything forms a soft ball. Turn out the mixture onto the prepared sheet pan and smooth out with your fingers, making the dough reach the sides and corners of the sheet pan.
  4. Place the sheet pan in the freezer. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Once the oven comes to temperature, remove the sheet pan from the freezer and prick the dough all over with a fork. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and place on a rack to cool to room temperature. It will seem too soft to support the bananas and condensed milk, but just let it rest. It will harden as it cools. Meanwhile, raise the oven temperature to 375°F.
  6. When the cookie base has cooled completely, place a layer of bananas on top of it, slightly overlapping each slice of banana. Now evenly pour the entire can of condensed milk over the bananas. You may use a flexible spatula to evenly distribute it, but don’t worry too much about it. It will even out in the oven.
  7. Bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the top of the bars is sticky and lightly golden brown. You will only see a film of white. If you see too much liquidy condensed milk, put it back in the oven and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Let cool completely before slicing and serving, preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Angela Yung
    Angela Yung
  • Sarah
  • Erin
  • Kristin
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.

4 Reviews

Sarah February 12, 2020
This is a great desert to make with your child! I was able to do the base in no time, and when it was ready, my young daughter happily cut the bananas, placed them top of the shortbread and poured the SCM. After it was baked, rotated and cooked some more, I read the reviews, and gave up. After it cooled, I am happy to report this dish is delicious! It’s a bit more “milky” than the pics, had some aggressive bubbling in the oven, but the banana flavor is solid, shortbread is a good tray for the bananas and the crisp, sugar edges are absolutely unbelievable.
Erin February 11, 2020
I followed the instructions exactly as written, but the condensed milk boiled over the sides of my quarter sheet pan and made a huge mess in my oven. I don't think the dough would've filled out a half sheet pan, but that capacity might've worked better for containing the boiling condensed milk.
After all that, I didn't like the bars at all. The crust was bland and didn't have a nice consistency. The banana flavor was so concentrated from being baked it tasted artificial. And I love bananas and banana bread!
If you do try this, take some kind of precautions to prevent a spillover of the condensed milk - it was really a mess.
Angela Y. January 30, 2020
I'm so glad I let the bananas ripen for a whole week because the flavor of the bananas was so intense in these bars--the taste lingers after you eat them. I did not have a food processor or nuts, so I made the shortbread with a traditional method (creaming sugar and butter, then adding the flour, cocoa powder, and salt). I have never had a dessert quite like these before--it was definitely a treat and I love that the edges caramelized to create a dulce de leche situation.
Kristin January 14, 2020
I’m going to buy bananas specifically to make this!