The bananas were growing more spotty and fragrant by the hour, and my daughter E was experiencing a rare social slump (in other words, she was at home). I’m not a believer in signs from the universe, but I can spot a good opportunity when I see one, so I knew that if I was going to get E into the kitchen to cook something with me, this was the time. Lately she’s been completely uninterested in helping me with any dish that involves eggplant, black-eyed peas, or any other vegetable (what a surprise), but I thought that if I could offer her something sweet to cook, she’d jump at the chance.
But for some reason, when I said “banana-coconut bars,” she said “Yuck!” Maybe it was the word “bar,” but I had to coax her into the kitchen with promises of her photo on the blog. (Unlike her mother, who has been known to dive under tables to avoid being photographed, E sees a camera and practically throws herself in front of it.) Whatever reluctance she had quickly dissolved as she decreed that I was allowed to do nothing, she would do it all. Well, everything except fetch ingredients and clean up afterward–I could do that!
Before we started, I found a recipe that looked easy enough and made a few changes to reduce the fat, sugar, and sodium. Waikiki Banana Bars came highly rated, and they were already vegan, a definite plus. So I substituted silken tofu for the shortening and tried to take them in a more tropical direction by using coconut and rum.
I was really surprised at the way the bars turned out. The banana, vanilla, coconut, rum, and cinnamon combine to create a totally new kind of taste, something I really can’t describe. But they were good. D raved about them, and more importantly, E came very close to admitting she was wrong. Oh, she liked them–loved them, in fact–but she claims it was only because of her cooking expertise that they came out so delicious. Sheesh, what a prima donna!
These bars are dense and chewy, and they have a tendency to be tough on the outer edges of the pan, so be careful not to overstir the batter, which causes fat-free baked goods to toughen up, or to overbake them.
1/4 cup silken tofu, lite or regular
3/4 cup brown sugar or Sucanat
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon rum (or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract)
2 large bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetened flake coconut
1/3 cup vegan powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F and oil or spray a 13×9-inch baking dish.
Mash or blend the tofu until smooth. Add the sugar and blend with a fork until creamy. Add the vanilla, rum, and mashed bananas, and stir well.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the coconut. Make a well in the middle and pour in the banana mixture. Stir only enough to moisten the flour (over-stirring makes them tough). Pour into the baking dish and put into the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
Remove from the oven and while warm, cut into bars. Sprinkle the mixture of powdered sugar and cinnamon over the bars, reserving some to sprinkle onto the serving platter. Remove each bar and put it on the platter.
Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Leftovers make a great, quick breakfast.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Makes 12 nice-sized bars. Each contains 135 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (7% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 234mg Sodium; 1g Fiber.