Brown Butter Banana Bread Bars with Peanut Butter Frosting

Brown Butter Banana Bread Bars 3It turns out that I hate the taste of matcha.

Ummm…. That’s interesting, Julie, but what does that have to do with this post?

This post would never have happened if I didn’t dislike that grassy green tea powder flavor as much as (I recently discovered) I do.

Brown Butter Banana Bread Bars 1

This has been a week of recipe fails for me.  I’m OK with the fails.  It happens to all of us, and I like to think that these inedible learning experiences will ultimately turn me into a better baker.  I just hate wasting ingredients, and this week saw way too much butter, flour, sugar and eggs tossed painfully into the trash.

Now, where was I?  Oh, right:  the matcha.

Brown Butter Banana Bread Bars 5

On occasion, I work with the folks at Peanut Butter & Co to create recipes.  With a blog titled, Peanut Butter and Julie, it’s just a natural partnership.  And, honestly, I love their products.  I go through so much peanut butter on a weekly basis–in my smoothies, on toast, straight out of the jar–and their fun flavors like Mighty Maple and Cinnamon Raisin Swirl make my peanut butter-loving life more interesting.

Recently, they sent me, along with a bunch of other bloggers, one mystery ingredient with which we were supposed to create a recipe that also used peanut butter.

You guessed it: My ingredient was matcha.

Brown Butter Banana Bread Bars

Now, matcha has been on the upswing in the recipe creating and foodie community for quite some time.  I’ve seen it used in everything from quick bread to ice cream and even in cocktails, so I was excited to give it a try.

I first created matcha macarons with peanut butter filling, trying to ignore the freshly mowed lawn aroma and pond-green color as the macaron shells baked.  They’ll obvously taste much better than they smell!!

Wrong-o.  I couldn’t even take a second bite.  I was unable to get past that distinctively grassy taste.  Recipe fail #1.

Brown Butter Banana Bread Bars 2

Not wanting to give up, I tried making matcha cupcakes and even a mousse.  Fails #2 and #3.  Maybe it’s just me.  I mean, I don’t like cream cheese, either, an ingredient that most people seem to enjoy.  Maybe everyone else would have enjoyed the taste (really??).  That said, I couldn’t bring myself to post a recipe that I didn’t like.

Frustrated, I emailed the team and Peanut Butter & Co and told them my dilemma.  I didn’t want to not create a new recipe using the mystery ingredient, but I never imagined that I would hate the mystery ingredient.  They were very understanding, and I was very appreciative.

And the matcha?  Buh-bye.  Thanks for playing!

Brown Butter Banana Bread Bars 8

In lieu of the matcha-peanut butter recipe, I decided to create a different original peanut butter recipe, and I came up with the idea to make brown butter banana and peanut butter blondies.  I love the combination of peanut butter and banana, and brown butter, with its nutty, rich qualities, makes just about every baked good taste ten time better.

In other words, you should be browning your butter every chance you get.

My first idea was to make brown butter banana blondies and then swirl a peanut butter mixture into the batter before baking, similar to the chocolate and peanut butter swirl brownies that I have been making for years.

Recipe Fail #4.  That idea turned into a big, ugly, underbaked joke of a mess.  Into the trash it went.

Suffering from Recipe Failure Exhaustion (RFE) at that point, I decided to simplify.  I made the brown butter banana blondies without anything swirled throughout, but I spiced them with banana bread-inspired flavors and studded them with nuts.  For the peanut butter part, I frosted them with an easy and fluffy peanut butter frosting.

Finally!  Recipe #5: SUCCESS!

I need a nap.   Enjoy :)

Brown Butter Banana Bread Bars with Peanut Butter Frosting

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: 12-16 bars

Serving Size: 1 bar

Brown Butter Banana Bread Bars with Peanut Butter Frosting

These bars are a cakier version of my favorite brown butter toffee blondies, enhanced with the flavors of my go-to banana nut bread recipe. A fluffy peanut butter frosting takes them from "delicious" status to "out of this world"!


  • 1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (500 mL) lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) banana puree (about 2 large ripe bananas)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups (560 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds)
  • For the Frosting
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 mL) creamy or crunchy peanut butter, room temperature (I used Peanut Butter & Co's "Bees Knees" variety)
  • 2 cups (500 mL) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla extract
  • 4-6 tablespoons (60-90 mL) heavy whipping cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9X13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and line it with parchment paper so that there is a 1-inch overhang on each of the long sides. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook the butter until it turns deep golden brown and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and let the butter cool for 10 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar for 1 minute at medium speed.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes more. Beat in the banana puree and the vanilla.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Mix in the chopped nuts.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the top is deep golden brown, puffed and a cake tester inserted into the middle emerges clean, 45-50 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Prepare the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  8. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat at low speed until combined.
  9. Add the vanilla and 4 tablespoons of the cream. Beat at medium speed until well combined and light, adding more cream as necessary until you reach your desired consistency (I like the frosting to be very light and spreadable.)
  10. Carefully remove the cooled bars from the pan and spread the frosting on top. Cut into squares and serve, garnished with a slice of fresh banana or chopped nuts.


Instead of mashing your bananas with a fork or a potato masher, simply puree them in your food processor for minimal lumps.

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