Bananas Foster Bars with Chopped Pecans and Rum Caramel

Serves: 16
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes

Ingredients for the Bars:
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons; 85 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) packed light brown sugar 
  • 1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom 
  • overripe banana (the browner the peel, the better!)
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt or sour cream 
  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) sugar 
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) chopped toasted pecans (optional)
Ingredients for Dark Rum Caramel Topping:
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) chopped toasted pecans
    Procedure for Bars:
    1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350F. Butter or spray an 8-inch square baking pan then dust it with flour. Tap out the excess.

    2. Put the butter into a small saucepan and sprinkle the brown sugar over it. Turn the heat on low and cook, stirring occasionally, until both the butter and sugar are melted. 
    3. Scrape the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl if you are using a hand mixer and let cool for about 10 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cardamom. 
    5. In a medium bowl, mash the banana and yogurt together with a fork until you have a smooth puree.
    6. If you are using a stand mixer: add the sugar to the melted ingredients and, using the paddle attachment,  beat on medium speed for 1 minute. 
    7. Add the egg and beat for 2 minutes, then mix in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add in the banana-yogurt mixture, beating for 1 minute after it’s incorporated. 
    8. Turn off the mixer and add the dry ingredients all at once. Pulse to begin incorporating then beat on low speed until the flour is mixed in about 50%. 
    9. Add the chopped nuts, if you’re using them, and mix by hand to finish incorporating the flour and nuts. Scrape the batter into the pan and use a flexible or offset icing spatula to spread the batter into the corners of the pan and to even the top.
    10. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean — it will have started to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top will spring back if you press it lightly in the center. Cool on a cooling rack while you prepare the caramel.
      Procedure for Rum Caramel:
      1. Mix the sugar and 1/3 cup cold water in a large saucepan (do not use a nonstick one). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, checking and swirling occasionally, until the mixture starts to color, 5 to 8 minutes.  Continue until it is dark amber; it will darken quickly.  (Do not stir, as this will cause it to crystalize.)

      2. Reduce the heat to low and carefully whisk in the butter. It will bubble up so be careful and mindful of the steam. Keep whisking until the bubbles settle down, then add the cream, whisking until the caramel is smooth, about 2 minutes.
      3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the rum, salt, and vanilla. This will make more than needed for the bars. Pour half the caramel into a heatproof airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. 
      4. Mix pecans into the remaining half of the rum caramel and pour evenly over the top of the cake.  
      5. Cool the cake until it is only just warm or it reaches room temperature.  Using a serrated knife or a chef’s knife, cut the cake into 16 bars, each 2 inches by 2 inches.

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