Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I feel like I preface every banana-related post with a disclaimer that I don’t really like bananas, but…I do have 10 (now 11) banana recipes on this site, so perhaps I protest too much. I certainly don’t like them enough to be a particular fan of Chunky Monkey ice cream or the peanut-butter-and-banana combo and its various “fat Elvis” iterations. (I am, however, a fan of both actual monkeys and actual Elvis, so that’s something.) What I do like is peanut butter, and I had been wondering for a while, in the midst of my baked oatmeal mania, if a peanut butter version could work. And I know banana adds a nice tenderness to baked goods, and I love coconut, and I certainly won’t turn down chocolate—even if I don’t normally eat it for breakfast—so when I saw this recipe at Budget Bytes (my go-to source for oatmeal inspiration), I knew I had to at least give it a shot.

I usually avoid overly sweet foods in the morning—no donuts or coffee cake or cinnamon rolls for me—and this was definitely richer and more indulgent-seeming than my usual fare. But it’s not as sweet as I expected, in fact not actually that sweet at all, except that it’s a logical disconnect for me to be enjoying chocolate at 8 a.m. (The occasional chocolate chip studded into each bite doesn’t seem too weird, but when I got to the bottom of the bowl and essentially had chocolate milk, it did feel like I was getting away with something.) It is, of course, delicious, and there’s a reason these are all classic flavor pairings. As an occasional “special treat” breakfast, it will definitely have a place in my regular oatmeal rotation. (I find it’s an especially welcome balm for the soul during my extra-hormonal week of the month.) And unlike a pastry or sugary cereal, it keeps me full and energized until lunchtime.
The first time I made this I was slightly dismayed because I couldn’t really pick up much peanut butter flavor, so the second time I increased the quantity to ⅓ cup and that seemed perfect. Natural PB is best, but if you only have the sweetened stuff, just leave out the brown sugar. Same thing with the coconut—I only had the big unsweetened flakes on hand and didn’t feel like making a special trip to the Whole Foods bulk section for the unsweetened shredded, but Trader Joe’s has a shredded coconut that is way less sweet than the tooth-aching Baker’s kind, and that worked just fine; but if you do find yourself with the Baker’s, just cut out the brown sugar and all should be well.
I keep thinking it would be cool to use cocoa instead of chocolate chips to make the whole thing feel even less desserty, so that the oatmeal itself was chocolate-flavored instead of having pieces of chocolate in it, but I don’t know if I want to mess around with that when this is already so good.

P.S. November 2013: Does this just sound too decadent for your everyday breakfast? I recently tried this as just a PB-banana version and it was excellent. Follow the recipe below, but use a generous 1/3 cup peanut butter and omit the chocolate chips and coconut.
P.P.S. February 2015: If you want a subtler chocolate presence, I have discovered that mini-chips are the perfect solution, scattering the chocolate more evenly throughout the oatmeal instead of in big chunks. 

3-4 medium bananas
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼-⅓ cup natural peanut butter (unsweetened; salted OK)
2 cups milk
¼ teaspoon salt
2½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips
⅓ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened or lightly sweetened)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mash the bananas with a fork until they make a smooth puree (or you can leave it a bit chunky if you prefer that). Start with just three bananas and add another if needed to make 1½ cups. (If you’re short a little banana, make up the difference by using the corresponding amount of extra milk.)
  3. Add the mashed bananas to a large bowl. If your peanut butter is firm, warm it slightly in the microwave so that it is more fluid and can mix in more easily. Add the peanut butter, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, baking powder, and salt to the bowl. Whisk these ingredients together until smooth. Add the milk and whisk again.
  4. Add the dry oats, chocolate chips, and shredded coconut to the bowl. Stir everything together until evenly combined. Lightly coat the inside of an 8-by-8-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray (I like to use coconut oil spray for this). Pour the oat mixture into the casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes, or until browned and firm.
Serves: 6-8
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Great. Keep in a covered dish, scoop out a serving each morning, and reheat it in the microwave. Break it up a little with a spoon and pour cold milk over the top.

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