Every wonder what to do with your over ripe bananas? Try Chef Kevin Nashan and Bob Zugmaier’s easy and delicious recipes for banana whoopee pies and fritters in PARADE Magazine.
It happens: Despite our best efforts to enjoy them at their peak, we get distracted by other fruits (particularly in this glorious season of berries and stone fruits), and those perfectly yellow bananas will turn brown. Our first instinct is to mash them up lickety-split and throw them into banana-bread batter before they look any worse. But why not get more creative? Here, a few ideas to convince us that bananas never really go bad—they’re just begging to be enjoyed in entirely new ways.
1. “Bake” cookies in the freezer.Inevitably, by late July, Valerie Rice and her family tire of ice pops—and make “fresh”-frozen cookies instead. Genius, right? After all, who wants to bake in this summer heat? What’s more, these treats are gluten-free and practically guilt-free, since there’s no added sugar, says Rice, the domestic goddess behind the gorgeous blog Eat Drink Garden. Simply mash 3 ripe bananas with a fork, and blend in 1 cup each of rolled oats; shredded unsweetened coconut; and almond flour. Now mix in a half-teaspoon of sea salt and a half-cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons tahini, a half-teaspoon of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and if you like, a quarter cup of toasted hemp seeds. Plop rounded teaspoonfuls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place in the freezer for 2 hours, then enjoy! (If they’re too hard, let them soften for a few minutes; store leftovers in an air-tight container or bag in the freezer.)
2. Make fancy frozen pops. If your bananas have seen better days, but haven’t turned completely to mush, you can press a popsicle stick into them and freeze them until solid (about 1 to 2 hours), suggests Christina Rakitze, director of pastry operations at Sugar and Plumm in New York City. When you’re ready to eat them, dip them into melted chocolate and coat with shredded coconut or chopped peanuts. “They’re my favorite treat to bring to the beach,” says Rakitze. “They hold up great in a cooler and are completely customizable.”
3. Swirl up a smoothie. An obvious option, but worth a reminder. Slice up that sad banana, and freeze in a plastic storage bag. My personal favorite: Toss the slices (which taste great straight, by the way) into a blender with chocolate frozen yogurt, milk, and peanut butter to taste. It’s so refreshing yet filling (and so much cheaper than those sold in smoothie stores).
4. Flip for pancakes. Who knew? Those neglected bananas are the secret to nearly foolproof pancakes! Mash and stir right into your batter, suggests Rakitze—using a half-cup or less for every 2 to 3 pancakes. Not only will the bananas boost flavor—they’ll keep those flapjacks from tasting too dry, too.
5. Get saucy. Thiago Silva, pastry chef at Catch Miami, and several otherEMM Group restaurants, resurrects past-due bananas by transforming them into a magnificent sauce. “It tastes almost like a banana candy I grew up eating in Brazil,” he says. Cook mashed bananas on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Dial down heat to low, stirring occasionally. Cook until the liquid evaporates—about 40 minutes to an hour. (Good things come to those who wait!) Remove from heat. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice and half teaspoon of salt for every cup of mashed bananas. Cool to room temperature. Store in an air-tight jar in the fridge. Now you’ve got a ready-made sauce for livening up yogurt, ice cream, toast, oatmeal, waffles… The possibilities are endless!
6. Roll up a burrito. Burritos are as delicious sweet as they are savory, points out Grace Donaghy, pastry chef at Mercadito in Chicago, a restaurant serving up the flavors Mexico. So true! Trained in the art of French pastry, Donaghy came up with this clever combo of two cuisines: Mix a cup of sugar and two tablespoons of cinnamon in a bowl; set aside. Cut a ripe banana in half. Wrap each half in a flour tortilla (as you would a burrito), using toothpicks to keep it in place. Fry in oil until a deep golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain excess oil. Dust each with the sugar-cinnamon mix. Enjoy it with chocolate sauce, or, if you’re game, make the “Cajeta Rum Anglaise” sauce: Whisk three egg yolks into a bowl; set aside. Bring to a simmer a cup each of heavy cream and whole milk; two tablespoons of sugar; 1 and a half tablespoons cajeta (buy it here, ormake it here), and 1 teaspoon each of salt and cinnamon. Pour this creamy mix very slowly into the bowl of eggs; then pour this new combined mix back into the pot; turn up the heat to medium. Whisk until thick, at which point, add 2 tablespoons of rum. Now you’re read to drizzle this over the burrito. “The sauce is a lovely way to tease out the banana’s natural sweetness,” says Donaghy.
7. Whip up whoopee pies. Chef Kevin Nashan, chef/owner at Sidney Street Café in St. Louis, Missouri, and Robert Zugmaier, the restaurant’s pastry chef, love bananas. “The flavor really stands out in any dish,” says Nashan. Here’s a surprisingly easy recipe for whoopee pies—because, as the duo says, “Who doesn’t like a good whoopee pie?” Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Puree five ripe bananas in a blender; set aside. Combine half-cup canola oil with 1 cup brown sugar. Add an egg and half teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix well. Now add 1 and a half cup flour; half teaspoon each of kosher salt, baking powder, baking soda, and ground cinnamon; and 1 and a half teaspoon powdered ginger; again, mix well. Finally, blend in the bananas. Place rounded teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking pan (you should yield about 20) and bake for about 7 minutes. While they’re cooling, you’re can make the filling. Simply blend until smooth: 3 cups powdered sugar, half-cup softened butter, 8 ounces cream cheese, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Spoon onto and sandwich between the cooled whoopee cakes.
8. Fry up fritters. Another indulgent treat from the Sidney Street chefs: Whisk 2 eggs, 5 bananas (diced), quarter-cup powdered sugar, and 8-ounce buttermilk until smooth. Set aside. In another bowl, blend together 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, and 1 and a half teaspoons baking soda. Now combine the dry ingredients into the wet. Refrigerate until the batter firms up a bit (at least 30 minutes). When batter is ready, pour 2 cups of canola oil in a cast-iron skillet and heat until very hot (you can test it with a bit of batter—it should brown on the outside and cook in the inside). With an ice-cream scoop (or soup spoon) drop dollops of batter into the oil and fry until golden brown. Dry on a baking wire rack (line the bottom with paper towels or a pan). Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
9. Go bananas with cupcakes. Completely under-appreciated, in my opinion, is the taste of banana with vanilla. I personally like cutting up almost-mushy bananas into little chunks and folding them into vanilla cupcake batter (either store-bought or from scratch) and baking them as usual. Top with vanilla buttercream frosting, and there you have it: a slightly healthier version of the classic treat, thanks to that little boost of potassium.