Louisiana: Bananas Foster Cookie Bars

Get out your torch: Louisiana’s cookie brings the brulée with a bar cookie imitation of Bananas Foster. A pecan-paved sugar cookie crust is topped with thick cream cheese frosting, rum-soaked banana halves with a crust of caramelized sugar.

Recipe source: https://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/how-to-make/bananas-foster-cookie-bars/

I’ve never been to Louisiana, and I know there’s a lot more than just New Orleans, but the foodie in me would just love to eat my way through New Orleans, every tourist-must have from crawdads to beignets. When I was pregnant with my son, the tracking app I used had a “French bakery” theme available for comparing size, and at one point he was supposedly the size of “two plates of beignets.” I thought, “Hmm, I could go for two plates of beignets.” Still could, at any particular moment.

I’ve eaten beignets (at brunch at a restaurant in Somerville, Massachusetts, mind you) but I’ve never had Bananas Foster. I know, what have I been doing with my life? Bananas, rum, FIRE?

I knew right away these would be some work on par with the Baked Alaska, but unlike at that time, I couldn’t cheat with the broiler; it would melt the frosting, so I had to get a torch for real. Instead of spending the dough on a fancy “brulée torch” at a kitchen store (or Amazon) I took Alton Brown’s advice and headed to the hardware store:

Flame-io, Hotman!

$16 for the torch attachment, under $3 for the propane tank. It’s not as hand-friendly as the trigger-style kind you get for culinary but I have the use of both my hands.

I’m never making bar cookies without parchment handles again. I may never even make brownies without them again. Handles for everybody!

I needed finely chopped pecans again, so again with my little buddy, mini Cuisinart:

But oh crap, I’ve been putting pecans in my oatmeal lately, do I have enough for 3/4 cup?

Phew! Just barely made it. I was ready to slip in some walnuts.
Directions said to cream butter until “slightly fluffy.” Is this slight enough?
Best tool for scraping the whole lot of dough out of the bowl, a bowl scraper. These are only $4 on Amazon, but buy it at your local kitchen store, I bet they at least give their employees bathroom breaks (HEY-O!)

Now comes the fun part:

Much tastier than Play-doh.

I have the damnedest time making these even. Anyone who gets a corner piece misses out some on the crust. Sorry.

I applaud the decision to have us press the pecans into the top of the dough instead of trying to fold them into it.

You can see the wide variety in chop sizes. You are useful, Mini Cuisinart, but perhaps not the best it is at what you do.

I was surprised that the cream cheese frosting was only cream cheese, rum, and a ton of powdered sugar. I think maybe this is why this cookie bar is so sweet: it relies on sugar as a thickening agent, and cream cheese frosting is softer than buttercream as it is.

Turns out I didn’t have spiced rum after all! We’re not big fans of it, and we’re out of Bacardi Oakheart (Pepsi-loving husband likes it in Pepsi and I’m a big fan of anything that’s soaked in some oak) so I had to resort to this nice little bottle of gold rum we picked up from New England Sweetwater Distillery out of Winchester, NH.

This is how it looks after incorporating all the sugar, and the recipe didn’t say to do more than that, but I’m well-trained, so I whipped it…
If you’re ever wondering how to tell if your buttercream has been whipped until fluffy enough, whip on highest speed until it starts making a “thwappita thwappita” noise. If it sounds like a prop plane spinning up, it’s done).

The original site used a #195 piping tip, which I do not have. I think this is a 2B? The big one with a star tip where the points all touch (or almost touch) in the middle. I know, highly technical. I was going for a sort of S swirl but then I got lazy. I don’t think anyone can tell once the bananas are on it.

I could have used more bananas, but I wanted one for my oatmeal the next morning, so…
Sorry about the blur. My hands must have been shaking in excitement.

I was going to show the torch in action, but I wanted to two-hand it, plus the tip got red hot glowing and it kind of freaked me out, so I concentrated on my task.

You can see a couple of scorches on the paper.

No lie, this is the best bruléeing job I’ve ever done. I wish I could go back to my Classical Baking final and have a do-over. And this kept flaring up (minorly, more of a sizzle-up) because of the rum on the bananas.

See that part that’s discolored? That whole thing was glowing red!
See how useful those handles are?

Overall impressions: Leave it to Louisiana to deliver a rich cookie bar sweet enough to break your teeth. Whether that appeals to you depends on your sweet tooth. I have a decent sweet tooth but needed a full glass of milk. My Pepsi-addict husband is already requesting I bake them again soon. And unlike with the bourbon cookies last time, you can taste the rum.

I keep wondering how it would taste with custard. Maybe I should make a banana cream pie with the cookie crust, custard, the usual whipped cream topping and these bruléed bananas (I could brulée them separately if I’m worried about melting the cream, though I did not melt any of this frosting at least). Hmm…

Next time: Lemon Blueberry cream cookies from Maine! I love blueberries, my husband hates them, so more for me!

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