Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Frosted Banana Bars

I opened the freezer this morning to get some waffles out for the kiddos, and out flew some frozen bananas!  Clearly they were begging to be baked today. 

Do you toss your overripe bananas into the freezer as I do?  My kids are, shall we say, persnickety about their bananas and don't like to eat them when they're overripe.  I just stick them in the freezer (the bananas, not the kids!) and save them for baking.  They turn completely black and look horrendous, but once thawed, they soft and mushy, just perfect for sweet treats like banana bread, cakes, cookies, and bars!!

Today I baked these.   Banana bars with cream cheese frosting.  Oh, yeah.

The recipe is so easy, made with everyday, on-hand ingredients.  I don't even remember where I got this recipe, I've had it so long!!

The bars are cakey----soft and moist.  The frosting is sweet and cream cheesy.  The chopped pecans on top are completely optional, but add a yummy crunch!

Since the recipe makes a big pan (11 x 15 jellyroll pan), I shared a big plate of them with the incredible kindergarten teachers at my little one's school.  The school year is coming to an end at an unbelievable pace.  Field trips, programs, special events, etc. etc. etc.  The teachers are well deserving of a pick-me-up such as these bars!

Enjoy the recipe!!

Frosted Banana Bars

1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 medium very ripe bananas

1 package cream cheese (8 oz), softened
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 11 x 15 jelly roll pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick baking spray.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well.  Add vanilla and sour cream and beat until incorporated.  Add dry ingredients and beat on low until blended.  Peel bananas and mash with a fork, then stir until batter.  Spread into prepared jelly roll pan.  Bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of pan comes out with moist crumbs.    Cool completely.

Prepare frosting:  In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add vanilla and 3 1/2  cups of powdered sugar.  Beat on low until smooth.  If necessary, add additional powdered sugar until frosting is thick yet spreadable.  Spread over cooled bars.  Sprinkle with nuts.  Cut until squares.  Yield:  35 to 40 bars.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

TWD: Fresh Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

One word:   YUM!!!

This delicious cake is absolutely perfect for someone who has never baked with rhubarb before.  In other words, ME!   Honestly, I've never baked or cooked with that weird, red, long, skinny, celery-shaped, strange-smelling vegetable before.   I'm glad Tuesdays With Dorie gave me the nudge to do so!

The recipe is supposed to be baked in little "baby cake" pans, but I chose to bake the entire recipe in a 10 inch square pan. 

As with other upside-down cakes, the recipe begins with making a simple caramel on the stove top.  Since I don't drink or purchase alcohol, I exchanged the called-for bourbon with vanilla extract.   I love, love, love vanilla, so it was just right.

The rhubarb (again, what an odd veggie it is) is washed, sliced, and arranged over the caramel in the baking pan.

The batter is soooooo lovely!    I substituted sour cream for the creme fraiche (though if I'd worked ahead of time I could have made homemade), but that was the only other change I made.  Buttery, creamy, smooth.....just a perfect batter.   It's spread gently over the rhubarb and caramel.   The cake is then ready for the oven!

With a swipe of a sharp knife around the edges of the pan, and a quick prayer, the cake is flipped onto a serving dish.  I only had one or two sliced of rhubarb stick in the pan, but they were easy to place back on the cake.

The pink of the rhubarb, and the golden brown of the caramel and pecans were so beautiful!   The kids and I enjoyed a slice BEFORE DINNER as snack.  Go me!    (yeah, typically I'm a eat-your-dinner-before-dessert kinda mom.)   So delicious!

I will most definitely make this recipe again, likely with another fruit.  Peaches, plums, apples, even pineapple would be scrumptious!

Today's TWD host is Erin of  When in Doubt.....Leave it at 350.   (Adorable name, Erin!)   Please visit her blog for the recipe!    Erin should have some great news any day now too.......!   :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

First Communion Cake

Congratulations on your First Communion, Matthew P.!!

This cake is for a friend's son who celebrated his First Communion this weekend.  My friend sent me a photo of a cake she found online.  I'm sorry I cannot give respectful credit to the original cake designer!   Please know this is not my original design.....but it sure is adorable, don't you think?  :)

The Bible is made from rice krispie treats, which I made in a standard pan then cut to size once cooled.  I covered it with rolled fondant, then added royal icing details. 

The rosary and cross are rolled fondant as well.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Preschool end-of-the-year cake and cookies

When you're 4 years old, the end of preschool is definitely worth celebrating!   This cute cake is personalized with each child's hair style and eye color.  I have a hunch they'll love it!

These are matching sugar cookies, which are now wrapped up in cello bags, ready to give each child as a take-home treat!   They are a whopping 4 1/2 inches in diameter, and have fondant and royal icing details.