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improvisation & chocolate banana brownie

May 18, 2012

I’ve become rather good at improvising. When you don’t have what you think you need, it forces you to become creative. Very often, when it comes to setting up home here in the far North the option is between ordering online, paying shipping costs and waiting a couple of weeks for arrival, or whipping up an alternative. I’d like to think I’ve become pretty good at my alternatives!

Trying to start seedlings without seed raising mix and a tray. Alternative: egg cartons with cardboard markers, and some rocky dirt scraped out from beneath the snow. Hey the seeds aren’t nearly as fussy as I thought!

Limited cutlery selection (one knife! We take turns eating dinner..) rolling around in the drawer. Alternative: cutting up those boxes from the food mail order and constructing a recycled cutlery drawer.

Damp clothes, no clothes rack and a reluctance to use the dryer (you know us New Zealanders – we’re so used to conserving energy). Alternative: move a set of shelves into the sunniest window, hang up the washing and wait a whole hour for it to be bone dry. Okay, an exaggeration but, boy, the dryness up here, despite dehydrating your hands, is incredible for drying clothes!

Attempting to create a beautiful photoshoot to document THE best butter-less brownie (I’m not exaggerating) and becoming frustrated with the lack of platters, absence of baking utensils and the fact that even my teaspoons don’t match. Alternative: suck it up and claim the mismatched, vintage style. Hey that works!

Craving a fresh, under-ripe banana (the best!) and moaning that they are all beyond ripe (I swear the central heating fast-tracks the ripening process here). Alternative: browse the blogosphere for banana recipes (that are a much-needed change from banana bread).

Finding a packet of oh-so-tasty chocolate ‘Rosettes’ left by the last tenants and snacking on them. Every evening. Alternative: combine them with bananas to make Double Chocolate Banana Brownie!

I am a total sucker for brownie, and pretty darn picky. It must be fudgy not cakey, with a cracked top, a gooey middle and decent chunks of dark (or caramelized white) chocolate. Exactly like we had, stacked in a tower for our wedding ‘cake’, just over two wonderful years ago.

Since moving up to the far North I have put butter on the ‘use rarely’ list, due it being so expensive here (and so pale too… I think that’s an American thing). And then, per chance, I stumble upon one amazing blogger who decided to replace the butter in the famous brownie with mashed bananas, forcing banana bread and brownie into the same pan.

Double Chocolate Banana Brownie
Recipe from A Full Measure of Happiness

2 ripe bananas
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 C sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 C walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Measure wet ingredients (vanilla, egg, bananas, oil) and sugar into a bowl and beat until well combined (and bananas are mashed). Add dry ingredients (salt, baking powder, cocoa and flour) and fold together. Mix through nuts and chocolate. Pour into brownie pan and press into the corners. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until center is just cooked.

Allow to cool and slice into squares. Leaving it on the deck at 5˚C outside helps fast-track this process. Just so you know..

I can assure you these are incredible. They are not going to last long here! Dark, fudgy brownie, with a hint of banana bread, chunks of chocolate and crispy edges. Oh the edges, the best part. Of course the center pieces are very good too – and I would know..

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 19, 2012 4:54 am

    Great photos. Wouldn’t guess they were taken in restricted circumstances. I see you are maximising the doilies.

  2. May 20, 2012 1:50 am

    Holy moly, these sound impeccable, and your improvising brought a big grin to my face! Thanks for taking the time to take & share those shots, we’re in a similar situation so I totally empathise!

  3. May 20, 2012 10:29 am

    Great way to sprout stuff. I have a ton sitting around with the shells. I crumble up the shells and to the soil my tomatoes are in.

  4. June 4, 2012 2:00 pm

    Hi Christina, I made this brownie the other day and it was delicious! What a great recipe. It sounds like you guys are enjoying Canada. I love reading about what you’ve been up to and trying the recipes :) Sarah

    • June 4, 2012 7:51 pm

      Oh – stoked you liked it Sarah! Such a good recipe to have on hand – plus it freezes well for work lunches :)

  5. July 28, 2012 3:46 am

    Yum, just made these with a bit of maple syrup in place of sugar and coconut oil in place of regular oil. Event though I probably overbaked them a little they are deeeelicious – don’t miss the butter at all! In fact I’m willing to bet these might work without egg too…will probably find out soon, can’t see this batch lasting long!

    • July 28, 2012 8:29 am

      Oh good Zo! I love that someone else made and loved these as much as we did. Can’t think why you wouldn’t want eggs in them though! I guess if you had vegan friends :P I so want coconut oil – but I am having a reeeeeally hard time sourcing in any of the main cities up here, and it certainly isn’t in our tiny mart!

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