Twice every week, I toss my reusable grocery totes into my car and drive across town to Trader Joe’s. After easing into a shady parking spot and grabbing a red shopping basket, I always head straight for the banana bin.
I spend at least two full minutes gently pawing through the fruit (yes, that long… and usually more than that!), searching for the biggest ones with the perfect shades of peel. Because I eat one every morning as part of breakfast, I always need a variety of colors. No use in buying a huge bunch that all ripen at the same time!
I snatch up a few bright yellow ones first, sweetly ripe and ready to peel, before looking for two or three with a faint greenish hue that will turn yellow in a couple of days. Finally, I finish with the lime green ones that require a week to ripen. Although I look hilarious circling the bin multiple times, almost like a lion stalking its prey, that method works like a charm!
Well… Except for the times where I get greedy and pick out an extra. At home, it turns spotty before I can finish the rest, so I normally bake a batch of banana bread or muffins and freeze half to nibble on later.
But this time, with our moving date rapidly approaching and our freezer off-limits, in desperate need of cleaning out (why do I hoard so many ice cream flavors??), I had to come up with something else: a treat slightly easier to give away than half a loaf of bread. After a little bit of thinking and a whole lot of indecision, I finally settled on a new dessert to try.
Barely half an hour later, I pulled these Peanut Butter Banana Bread Brownies out of the oven. With the fruity flavor of banana bread, the fudgy texture of brownies, and a ton of peanut butter drizzled on top, these sweet bars taste like pure comfort food. It can be our little secret that they’re skinny, vegan, and actually clean-eating!
These fun brownies are so simple to make, and you only need a few dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. We’ll add very little of the latter two. With such a small amount of baking powder, the bars barely rise, which results in the same fudgy texture as brownies. Yum!
After so many successful recipes in the past month—like brownies, muffins, and cake—I really wanted to keep going with my trend of gluten-free baked goodies. I created my own gluten-free flour blend for these with millet, brown rice, tapioca, and coconut flours, and the bars ended up with a silky smooth texture and flavor. But as always, whole wheat flour works too!
We’ll skip the egg in these healthy banana brownies and add extra mashed banana instead. (Yes, that means they’re actually vegan!) The extra mashed banana helps bind the bars together like the protein in eggs and gives them a bright natural flavor. With just a hint of additional sweetness from Stevia, these treats are seriously fruity and irresistible!
For the swirls on top, add a few tablespoons of peanut butter to a zip-topped bag, and heat that in the microwave for a few seconds. We just want it warm enough to pipe—not completely melted! Squeeze out the peanut butter into straight lines over the brownie batter, and carefully drag a toothpick through in perpendicular lines to achieve those fancy-looking “V” shapes.
Like regular brownies, we’ll bake these low and slow so the center cooks through without the edges turning crispy. Cool them all the way to room temperature in the pan, and let them set for as long as possible. I know it’s tempting to dig right in, but allowing them to rest longer really helps achieve the fudgiest texture possible—just like with my most popular brownie recipe!
After nearly consuming half the pan by myself in barely 24 hours, I sent off the rest of these Peanut Butter Banana Bread Brownies to my adorable little neighbors. I needed to focus on packing—not running a million extra miles to burn all of these off! The kids’ eyes lit up, and they immediately turned to their parents to ask if they could try one after dinner.
“They’re from Amy, so they’re healthy!” was their rationale.