Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cake Bars

Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cake Bars
I think that, no matter how rich I one day get, I will always feel swindled at the movie theaters. Because a bottle of water should NEVER cost four dollars. And popcorn should never cost six dollars. There is a reason why corn is in absolutely everything in this country. Because it's cheap. It's really, really, really cheap. And adding hot air to it should not inflate the cost 900%.

Also, the candy.  Don't even get me started on the candy.

So I've totally become that woman who smuggles outside food into the theater. Eugene gets nervous when I do this. I stop by the Duane Reade drugstore (located on every single corner in Manhattan) and I stock up on goodies--almonds, reasonably priced candy, 99 cent water--stuffing them all into my purse until it's nearly straining at the seams.

When we went to see X-Men a few months ago, I brought along a veritable picnic of artisan cheese straws, pepperoni slices, carrot sticks, and chocolate covered peanuts that I spread out on my lap. At first, my brother-in-law (who came with us) laughed at me, but it wasn't long before he, too, was reaching over to partake in another cheese straw.

Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cake Bars
Occasionally, when I plan in advance, I'll bring treats from home. A few weeks ago, Eugene and I went to see The Help. We bought tickets for the late show in advance so I had plenty of time to plan snacks. As it was so late (the movie started just before 11pm), there was no need to bring along my usual feast, but I still required a little something to make the experience complete. In typical Alejandra fashion, I waited until it was about 40 minutes before we had to leave to start baking.

"I'm just going to whip something up quickly," I assured Eugene, who was starting to pace nervously, repeatedly asking me when I was planning to shower.

The idea was clear in my head--I wanted a fudgy brownie-like cake packed with bananas and peanut butter. I started with a basic brownie recipe, and replaced the butter with peanut butter. I then added a cup of pureed ripe bananas (the really syrupy kind), and increased the baking soda. I popped it in the oven then ran to the shower.

Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cake Bars
The results were awesome! A moist cake with a fudgy, almost gooey, top layer. I chilled it in the fridge, then cut it into large rectangles that I wrapped with plastic and tucked into my purse. To drink, I filled a large mason jar with cold water.

"Are you serious?" Eugene asked when he saw me getting into the car with my jar. "How are you going to get that in?"

"Like this," I said, as I demonstrated the way I was going to casually drape a large, bulky sweater over my hand.

The plan worked flawlessly (mostly because the bored ticket taker wouldn't have noticed if I'd been hiding a bomb under my sweater), and we took our seats. The only minor problem was the fact that my mason jar of water didn't quite fit into the theater cup holder, but I made it work. That said, the snack was perfect! Especially given all the fabulous-looking pies and cakes and other Southern goodies the characters on screen kept eating.

They may have had fried chicken, but we had delicious cake.

Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cake Bars
(Oh and FYI, when I was testing this recipe for the site, I tried it out with whole wheat flour and found that while it came out a bit dryer, there was still a significant level of gooey deliciousness, but because of the whole wheat I was able to convince myself that it was essentially a totally healthy protein bar.)

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Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cake Bars
Serves 9

Print this Recipe

12oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (or use chips)
1/2 cup plain peanut butter (preferably natural, unsweetened)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 bananas--the riper and syrupy-er, the better)
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" or 8" square baking pan and line with a long strip of parchment paper that covers the bottom and overhangs on both sides (this will help you pull the cake out once it's ready.) Set aside.

Combine the chopped chocolate (or chips, if using), peanut butter, and olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until the chocolate and peanut butter is melted and evenly combined.  Pour into a large bowl and let cool for 2 minutes.

Whisk in the mashed bananas, followed by the eggs, one at a time until all three are fully incorporated into the mixture. Stir in the sugar and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda, then stir into the wet batter until fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, smoothing out the top. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until just set. A tester inserted into the center should come out a little bit fudgy, but not wet. Remove from oven and let cool at room temperature for 15 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator to set. Once firm (about 20 minutes), cut into bars and serve. Dust with confectioner's sugar if desired. (Can also be served warm.)

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