Sunday, December 2, 2012

Banana Nut Bark

The Setting: A cozy, warm apartment on an overcast day.

The Soundtrack: Storage Wars.

Steaming up the Oven: Nothing yet...trying to resist the urge to make brownies.

The Scenario: Something a little different for your holiday sweets swap.

I came up with the idea for a banana-bread-inspired bark a few weeks ago, brainstorming for some simple but fun treats for a Cookies for Kids' Cancer bake sale.

I didn't end up making the bark for the sale, but I've been haunted by the idea of it ever since.

Butterscotch chips and cinnamon chips are not standard in my pantry, but those were the ingredients I had envisioned. So I went for it.

It's not quite the banana bread in bark form I had hoped for; the specialty chips taste a little artificial (no big surprise); but I don't know...something about it is strangely appealing.

I'm pretty sure I won't be making this for every sweet swap on the holiday horizon, but it's a good one to file away for who-knows-when.

Baking chips, like chocolate, can be pretty temperamental. I prefer to melt them in the microwave rather than a double boiler because it's faster and, I feel, easier. The downside to this method is that the chips can scorch and become useless very easily. To avoid scorching and achieve the smoothest consistency, microwave for very short intervals, and stir for AT LEAST 30 seconds after each microwaving. Sometimes it looks like the chips need more heat when what they really need is more stirring (they're made to hold their shape when baked into cookies, after all). So stir, stir, stir!

Banana Nut Bark
2 cups banana chips
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
2 cups white chocolate chips
2 cups butterscotch chips
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pulse the banana chips several times in a food processor to coarsely chop. Set aside.

Toast the pecans in a dry nonstick skillet over medium heat, tossing or stirring frequently, just until fragrant. Watch out--they'll go from perfect to burnt pretty quickly. Set aside.

Place the white chocolate chips in a large, microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the chips thoroughly. They will not be very melted at this point--stir them anyway. Microwave for 15 seconds; stir very thoroughly. Microwave 15 seconds; stir very, very thoroughly. If needed, continue microwaving for 15-second intervals, stirring very thoroughly after each. The key to un-scorched chocolate is "stir more, cook less."

Stir all but 1/3 cup of the crushed banana chips into the white chocolate.

Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared parchment-lined baking sheet.

Melt the butterscotch chips following the same process used for the white chocolate, and stir in all but 1/4 cup of the toasted pecans.

Spread the butterscotch mixture evenly on top of the white chocolate mixture.

Melt the cinnamon chips and drizzle over the top of the butterscotch mixture. Drag a knife through the layers for a marbled effect. Note: if the layers have already begun to harden, you can place the baking sheet in the oven, turn to 200 degrees F, and let sit for just a minute to soften slightly.

Sprinkle the remaining banana chips and pecans evenly over the top.

Allow to set completely at cool room temperature before breaking into pieces to serve. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.

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