Sneaky Chef: Monkey Bars
I can't get most of my taste testers to eat banana bread (maybe it seems too healthy), but they gobble up these banana bars because they're more like a soft, square cookie. They especially love it when I drizzle melted white chocolate in thin stripes across the top. When decorated with sprinkles and candles, these bars make a great alternative to birthday cake, plus kids can hold them in their hands.
Makes 1 dozen bars
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Orange Puree
2 large bananas, mashed with the back of a fork (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for dusting
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
3/4 cup Flour Blend (see below)
Optional Decoration: 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted in microwave
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Butter or spray only the bottom, not the sides, of an 11x7-in or 9-in square baking pan. Lightly dust with flour.
In a saucepan over medium -low heat, melt the butter, sugar, and salt. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool a bit. Once cool, whisk in the Orange Puree, bananas, vanilla, and egg yolks. Add the oats and Flour Blend and mix until just combined. Pour the entire mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake for 37 to 39 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in pan before cutting into approximately 3-in bars. If desired, dust with powered sugar when cool, or drizzle melted white chocolate in a striped pattern across the tops of the bars.
Keeps for a week in the refrigerator, covered tightly.
Sneaky Chef Make-Ahead Recipe: Orange Puree
1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced into thick chunks
2 to 3 tablespoons water
Place the carrots and sweet potatoes in a medium-sized pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes, until carrots are very tender. Careful - if the carrots aren’t tender enough, they may leave telltale little nuggets of vegetables in recipes, which will reveal their presence to your kids—a gigantic no-no for The Sneaky Chef.
Drain the carrots and sweet potatoes and put them in the food processor with two tablespoons of water. Puree on high until smooth– the consistency of baby food – no pieces or chunks of vegetables showing.Stop occasionally to push the contents to the bottom. If necessary, use another tablespoon of water to smooth out the puree, but the less water, the better.
This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree; double it if you want to store more. Orange Puree will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1⁄4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.
Sneaky Chef Make-Ahead Recipe: Flour Blend
1 cup all-purpose, unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ, unsweetened
Combine the flours and wheat germ in a large bowl. This makes about 3 cups. This blend can be stored in a sealed, labeled plastic bag or container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
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