One of the best things for my family, friends and neighbors is that we share. A LOT! Sometimes it's a tool, sometimes it's a friendly conversation or neighborhood watch, but in my case, it usually involves recipes and food. With a food blog, there is a LOT of cooking and baking that goes on in my crazy little corner of the world - and it would be crazy NOT to share. And while I share lots of tips and lessons at Snowflakes & Coffeecakes Cooking School, I share most of my recipes and a lot of baking tips and tricks here as well. Today I'm whipping up some of our family favorite Banana Bars with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting - so we'll be enjoying those while you read the rest of my story...
Several months ago I posted about the devastation of the vanilla bean crops and market right now, and resulting worldwide shortage and huge price increases. Shortly thereafter I was talking with the folks at Rodelle Kitchen - who are famous for their premium baking products and gourmet spices, and more specifically, a line of pure vanilla products that I have used and loved for years.
I know that many of you are VERY interested in natural and organic products - and I wanted to share with you that Rodelle does so much more behind the scenes in terms of sustaining and giving back to the vanilla growing regions. Who knew that they have quietly been involved with international support programs and environmental projects as well? Like my Mom taught me, quality ingredients make all the difference when baking and cooking - and given the chance to use both quality ingredients and support an ethical company? That is something that I can truly get behind!
I actually use a variety of vanilla in these moist and flavorful fresh Banana Bars and the unbelievably flavorful Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting. You just don't get the same flavor or results from artificial vanilla products - so save your time, money and taste buds and just use the real thing. It is so worth it!
The beauty of these fresh Banana Bars is that they are so easy to make - my little guy even requested them rather than cake for his last birthday party! As soon as we have a bunch of bananas that have lots of golden brown sugar spots, we are ready for take-off! Perfectly ripe bananas, fresh eggs, butter, sour cream, buttermilk and some Rodelle Pure Vanilla Extract get us started, and within minutes, these are in the oven baking.
While these are cooling down and my kitchen smells so wonderful, it's time to get the frosting started.
Most everyone has a favorite cream cheese frosting recipe, but once you try this version, you'll be hooked! The secret is the Rodelle Vanilla Bean Paste. And if you have never used vanilla bean paste before...it is a game changer! There are times that I want the intense flavor of vanilla beans, and this thick sweet paste is faster than scraping vanilla beans, and is loaded with vanilla seeds, rich flavor and aroma.
So thick and creamy, it spreads so easily on top of the cooled Banana Bars. You can twirl and swirl it to your hearts content! And then pop it in the refrigerator so that it chills and sets. These Banana Bars actually taste even better the day after you make them - it gives the flavors time to settle and meld together, and they are so moist and flavorful that it is worth the wait!
You can also bake these two 9-inch round pans and stack them for a dense and rich cake - almost like a brownie in texture. Frost and chill until you are ready to serve, and you've got a fabulous dessert that takes basic Banana Bars to a new level!
Every time that I make these, my kids ask why I don't make them more often, because they are their FAVORITE! (Of course, that's what they say about Krispie Bars and Brownies too!) I guess you just can't go wrong with simple recipes made with quality ingredients and love!
Bite after delicious bite, these are so good! I hope that your friends and family enjoy this family favorite recipe as much as we do!