where to start with these bars? they are literally one of my favorite things to bake, so for me that's enough, but if you need a bit more convincing....they are easy enough to make, my kids routinely help me make (and let's be honest, eat). did i mention they are beyond delicious?! for me, they are up there with, "how have i lived my life for so long without these?" status. maybe a touch dramatic, but im not one to joke about food. its serious business, you know. 😉
now, let's talk about the textures and flavors of this most delicious baked treat. the base is a banana bread thats been updated (and in my opinion, upgraded) with tahini. if you've not tried baking with tahini, you are definitely in for an unexpected treat! while tahini can be more on the bitter side, it transforms into a beautiful nutty flavor when baked. its not only for hummus!! if you've spent any amount of time on my instagram, you'll quickly realize im low key obsessed with it.
how to use it while baking: i like to use tahini in place of about half the amount of butter when i'm baking. it imparts a beautiful nuttiness and due to the high fat content, a perfect amount of moisture, while keeping the bread light and fluffy. ive also used tahini in place of other nut butters in smoothies, sauces, spreads, you name it and ive probably tried it! when paired with chocolate, you'll swear you're eating an elevated version of pb + chocolate.
and can we talk about this buttercream?! its literally my dream topping of the moment. ive used this to top these banana bread bars, as well as for the the most delicious chocolate cupcakes. i'm currently dreaming of at least a dozen more ways to use this particular buttercream; if only for an excuse to make this as many times as possible.
this buttercream is equal parts butter and tahini: powdered sugar, so you still get the flavor of a traditional buttercream, but a nice and unexpected bitterness from the tahini. think of it as an elevated version of pb flavored buttercream. what i especially love is the ability of the tahini to cut through the sweetness of the powdered sugar. its all about balance and this is a great balance of all the flavors!
for this recipe, i used an 8X8 baking pan, but you could easily use a 9X13. you could also make cupcakes, or double the recipe and make a two tiered cake using 8X8 or 9X9 square or round pans. the buttercream recipe is enough to generously cover the original recipe or a batch of cupcakes, but if you're doubling the banana bread recipe to make a two tiered cake, i suggest increasing the frosting by at least half.
a few tips to help you get the perfect bread the first time
- make sure you are using ripe bananas. use bananas with lots of brown spots; the browner, the sweeter! mash, mash and mash some more. i like to mash the bananas until only a few small lumps remain.
- use a measuring cup for the bananas or you could end up with a very different amount of mashed bananas than called for.
- i love using a food scale to get the exact amount of ingredients. if you don't own one, make sure you are using a spoon to scoop dry ingredients into a measuring cup; don't use the actual measuring cup to scoop out the dry ingredients.
- since this recipe is simple, using the best ingredients you can goes a long way in enhancing the taste. this recipe calls for quite a bit of tahini, so i suggest using the best quality you can. my personal favorites are whole foods 365 and seed + mill. if im running low or completely run out, some good ol' trader joes tahini is perfect; it just requires a lot more stirring! if none of these brands is convenient to you, just make sure the label reads: ground sesame seeds and nothing else.
- an easy way to line the your baking pan is by measuring out the perimeter of your 8X8 pan, leaving about 2 inches excess and marking where the corners are. starting from the outer perimeter of your measured parchment paper, cut down to your corner marks (x,y axis). each corner should now look like you cut out a small square (4 in total). for a 9X13 pan, simply measure your parchment paper to overhang a couple of inches when measured along the 13" side.
- baking time should be reduced down to the 18-22 minute mark if baking in a 9X13 pan.
- cool the bread IN the pan for 30 minutes on a cooling rack. loosen any unlined sides with a butter knife and gently lift the bread out of the pan using the excess parchment paper and place back on the cooling rack to cool completely to room temperature before you top with the buttercream.
as far as making the recipe, its really quite simple (like i said, my kids help me with this all the time). its a matter of mixing the wet ingredients together with the dry and baking! quick breads are really my favorite breads because you DON'T have to be a pro baker to get a beautiful and delicious product at the end. that's really what its all about!
happy baking + eating!
tahini buttercream topped banana bread bars
- 8X8 or 9X13 baking pan
- stand mixer or hand held mixer
banana bread bars
- 2 c all purpose flour (240g)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ¼ c mashed banana ( ~ 3 medium)
- ¾ c brown sugar (150g)
- ⅓ c tahini, well stirred (75g)
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- ¼ c plain greek yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 c unsalted butter, softened (226g) (2 sticks)
- 1 c tahini, well stirred (226g)
- 2 c powedered sugar (250g)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ c crushed walnuts, optional for topping
banana bread bars
- preheat oven to 350F. line an 8X8 or 9X13 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving 1-2 inch overhang (easy removal).
- in a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and powder and salt. set aside.
- stir well to combine brown sugar, tahini and melted butter.
- add eggs and mix until glossy.
- add in mashed bananas, yogurt and vanilla extract. mix until smooth and well combined.
- add dry ingredients to the wet ½ at a time, stirring each time until JUST combined. you may still have a couple of white streaks.
- pour batter into prepared baking pan.
- bake at 350 F for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. for 9X13 start checking around minute 18-22 minutes.
- cool in pan on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. remove bread from the pan using the parchment overhangs and cool on cooling rack an additional 15-30 minutes. top with tahini butter cream and crushed walnuts.
- in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and tahini on medium speed unitl light and fluffy.
- add in powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until all the sugar is incorporated.
- add in vanilla extract and salt.
- beat buttercream an additional 2 minutes until light in color.
- top anything and everything!!
did you make this recipe?
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