so my girl lisa shares her birthday with my daughter caroline, the 16th of this month. c will be eleven and lisa will be, well, i won't go there. let's just say there is a slight age difference. anyway, they are birthday buddies. i like to give lisa a little something to wish her a great day and to start her next birthday year off right. i know she loves these little babies, so i whipped up a batch to deliver to her today, a little early, but full of love. they are monkey bars from marcel desaulniers-death by chocolate cookies book. lisa is the one who first shared this recipe with me. it is to die for, literally. mr. desaulniers, a local chef and the owner of williamsburg's famous trellis restaurant, former employer/mentor to my buddy chef george, is most noted for his dessert, death by chocolate. i have to admit, i have died a few times over it. it's killer, worth every heart palpitation. if i gotta die by something, chocolate is fine by me.
these monkey bars are crazy lovely. don't be intimidated by the recipe. it looks long and drawn out, but it all comes together quickly, very quickly actually. the cookies are incredibly rich and decadent. they are full of banana flavor accented with toasted walnuts and semi-sweet chips. holy moley! oh, and don't forget the ganache icing. it is downright sinful, dark, oh so dark. a few words of advice, keep these in the fridge and cut when cold. the icing can "melt" pretty quick. i do allow the bars to sit at room temp, maybe five minutes, before serving to awaken the banana flavor. i also serve them cut into fairly small squares with large glasses of ice cold milk. enjoy.
monkey bars from marcel desaulniers
FOR THE MONKEY BAR BATTER:
1 cup walnut pieces
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter cut into 1 oz pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 pounds medium size ripe bananas( i used four large ripe ones)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
FOR THE MONKEY BAR ICING:
1 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp granulated sugar
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Toast the walnuts on baking sheet in preheated oven for 7 minutes. Remove the nuts from the oven and set aside to cool at room temperature until needed.
In a sifter, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift onto large piece of waxed paper and set aside until needed.
Place the butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until soft. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium for 1 minute and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and beat on high for 1 minute. Add the whole peeled bananas (you can break them in half but it really isn't necessary) and beat for 2 minutes on medium until fairly smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Operate mixer on low while gradually adding the sifted dry ingredients until incorporated about 1 minute. Add the chocolate chips and the toasted walnuts and mix on low to incorporate about 20 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Pour the batter into a 9x13x2-inch nonstick baking pan. Use a rubber spatula to spread the batter in an even layer.
Bake on the center rack of the preheated oven for 40 minutes until golden brown around the edges and set in the center. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before making icing.
TO MAKE THE MONKEY BAR ICING:
Heat the heavy cream and 4 tbsp sugar in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil. Place the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate in a 3 quart bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and stir with a whisk until smooth.
Pour the icing over the cooled Monkey Bars. Use a cake spatula to spread the icing evenly over the entire surface of the bar. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Keep cold in fridge.