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Monkey Bars

As far as I can tell, “monkey bars” are a name that is sometimes applied to banana bread baked as a bar-type cake rather than in a loaf pan. The real distinction in this case between a “bar” and a “cake” is the thickness, as the banana bars are not as thick as a banana cake would be. Monkey bars are just a really cute name that I – along with hundreds and thousands of others – happen to like, so this recipe is one for them, rather than one for banana bars or something similar.

The base has a higher sugar to flour ratio than a lot of banana breads, which makes it a bit denser and more stable; the texture is bar-appropriate. These can be packed into lunches as a dessert or substitute for a cookie and they can also be toasted for breakfast. You’ll probably note the chocolate chips that are evident in the piece above, which might not make it wholly breakfast-worthy for some. The chocolate chips are actually Milk Chocolate and Caramel Swirl chips made by Nestle. I wanted to use plain chocolate chips, but much to my astonishment, had none at home. These morsels tasted great, though. While too sweet on their own, they really blended well into the batter and gave the whole bar a surprisingly rich taste.

These bars only take a few minutes to whip up. I recommended using a food processor for the wet ingredients because this isn’t the sort of bar that you want to have chunks of banana in. If you do, that makes it a bit more banana bread-like than monkey bar-like, but the choice is, ultimately, your own.

Monkey Bars
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 medium bananas (3/4 – 1 cup banana)
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9-inch square pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
In the bowl of a food processor, blend bananas until smooth. Add in melted butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla and whizz until smooth and well-combined. Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared pan (it will be a thin layer).
Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, until a tester comes out dry.
Cool completely before slicing.
Makes 16 bars.

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16 Comments
  • Fiber
    March 28, 2006

    These sound tasty! I’m printing these out now to try.

  • Faith
    March 28, 2006

    Looks great, I just pulled banana bread out of the oven, should have read this first! But I still have a “dead” banana so I’ll give it a go!

  • water
    March 28, 2006

    All these things in your blog are really alluring to me. I have never made a bread or cake before coz we eat rice mainly and bread something are only bought from bakeries for breakfast.
    Anyway, you gave these detailed recipes below the lovely food photo and they seemed so tasty but not that complicated as I used to believe.
    In fact, I tried the recipe of the Irish soda bread this Sunday. It came out well, though I found it a little too rough for me, especially the crust. Maybe I didn’t knead the dough enough for it’s too sticky.
    I will try this one or the banana scones next, hoping they will be successful.
    Thank you a lot for your nice and delicious blog!

  • spicehut
    March 28, 2006

    These look so good. I have chocolate chips & bananas…will be making it this week !

    I have another recipe from ur blog earmarked : Chocolate chip cookies.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Anonymous
    March 28, 2006

    Those do look good. Banana and chocolate — can’t beat that combo. I like the way it has so little butter. Do you think I can sub the egg subsitutes (in the carton) for the eggs since I don’t have any eggs in the house. I’m thinking it would be ok — except for maybe real delicate type recipes? So not that bad for you type recipe in relative terms.

    Love your photos and descriptions.

  • Catherine
    March 28, 2006

    Yum – I have 2 bananas ready for this right now!

  • Nic
    March 28, 2006

    Anonymous – I think that an egg substitute will work ok, but the bars might be a tiny bit less tender due to the loss of the additional fat of the egg yolks. The taste will still be good, though!

  • MonkeyBites
    March 28, 2006

    What a great name for these treats! I’ll have to give them a try sometime. Love me some bananas!

  • Mika
    March 29, 2006

    Banana bread bars, groovy! You have some great recipes for sweets and many light ones at that. So do you create the recipe yourself?

  • Melissa
    March 30, 2006

    Those look great Nic!

  • Nic
    March 30, 2006

    Mika – Yes, I did. I’m sure that I’ve made similar recipes in the past, but I pretty much walked into the kitchen and put this together after a friend of mine asked if I had a good recipe for them.

  • Catherine
    March 30, 2006

    Hi Nic,

    I made these and they are so awesome, wonderfully moist. They made a great change from my usual banana-chocolate chip muffins. thanks!

  • Emily
    April 3, 2006

    Nic – these were fabulous! We had four bananas ready for baking, so we made a double batch. My husband doesn’t eat chocolate, so we used butterscotch chips instead. Worked great!

    My husband has a standing Monday morning meeting, and he brings breakfast for the staff. We find some great inspiration on your site. Thanks much!

  • Paul
    June 15, 2006

    You should try the banana bread recipe at: http://www.kidsloveanimals.com/home/kl1/page_111/monkeys_choice_banana_bread.html

  • mr coffee
    November 22, 2006

    the key that I’ve learned in the bananna thang… FREEZE your bananas as they start getting spotty. When they thaw they have a much sweeter taste and “pliable” texture

  • michelle
    August 28, 2008

    Do you think that 1 cup of sugar is too sweet. Banana is already sweet. Can I use half cup of brown sugar?

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