“Was that banana?”
Went the first question from everyone who’d tried these, once they unglued their mouths enough to ask. Next:
“I’m getting caramel… nuttiness… chocolate…”
Sounds almost like we were tasting vintage wines. To their credit, it was dark in the bar where we sat. Half turtle bar, partly inspired by the chocolate monkey drink, these lovable turtle monkey bars have the best of both animal kingdoms, in my opinion. Like a well-aged wine, the flavors also seemed to mingle after having been squashed together in plastic wrap for an hour beforehand. Cold, gooey banana indeed pervaded every bite. The mealy texture of graham cracker could be felt throughout. Chocolate chunks prominently lodged in the teeth. The combined sensation is positively that of a kindergarten recess (minus the raisins).
So it was appropriate, then, that this was how I celebrated my twenty-sixth birthday on Saturday: adding crumbs to a well-worn booth in one of my favorite Brooklyn dives, Freddy’s, as my friends and I plowed through turtle monkey bars, homemade chocolate chip cookies and apple cider donut holes. All washed down, of course, with plain old beer. (The choicest brand on tap? Sierra Nevada.) That’s what I call “naute” cuisine.
a very sophisticated trio
buttery molten sugar becomes caramel
You’ve got to be irrepressibly old not to enjoy cookies, cupcakes and donuts. (And you’ve got to love a bar that doesn’t serve food nor minds if you bring your own.) To me, embracing this immaturity is what birthdays are really all about. I was not the only bearer of gooey goodness that night; one friend brought along a quadruplet of cupcakes with unruly decorations. Unfortunately, I didn’t grab any shots of these or the other sweets before they were devoured, but I highly recommend this apple cider donut recipe, which makes a mean (and easy) ball of fried dough.
I dare you to try one of these chunky bars without feeling, for just an instant, like a five-year-old. Then again, this is coming from a girl who often feels about this mature. And judging from some of these gifts from friends, I’ll have plenty more days of monkeying around in the kitchen.
a bird-shaped vegetable peeler, some wonderful-smelling orangey countertop spray and a chunky, rum-flavored chocolate bar
Chunky Turtle Monkey Love Bars
(makes about 16)
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 oz dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup salted peanuts
1 banana, chopped to 1/2″ pieces
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and lightly flour a 9″ square casserole. In a medium sized bowl, combine 6 tablespoons of the butter, softened, with 1/2 cup of the sugar and the baking cocoa. Cut flour and graham cracker crumbs into the mixture until the dough just comes together. Press dough into the bottom of the casserole in an even layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, until slightly golden. Remove from heat and turn off oven.
While crust is still hot, sprinkle the chocolate, peanuts and banana pieces evenly across the top. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat up the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and the heavy cream. Bring to a boil, stirring with a spatula, and let bubble for about 1 minute, until the fats and sugar are congealed and no longer separate. Turn off heat. Carefully lift pan and drizzle caramel evenly over the casserole. There should be enough to just cover any crust surface. Refrigerate casserole for 20 minutes or until completely cool and hardened. Cut into cubes and serve.
(for 16 bars)
3/4 cup flour: $0.20
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar: $0.40
1 tablespoon brown sugar: $0.15
4 oz dark chocolate (from a $2 bar): $1.00
1/2 cup peanuts (from a large tub of mixed nuts for $6.50): $0.75
1 stick butter: $1.00
1 banana: $0.35
2 tablespoons baking cocoa: $0.30
1 tablespoon heavy cream: $0.35
Eight brownie points: Needless to say, my belly did not feel too good the next morning. If there’s anything I learned from turning 26, it’s that beer and sweets do not mix as well as I’d imagined. Then, I have to give these treats credit for incorporating pure banana hunks and peanuts for potassium and protein, respectively. There’s also that much-alluded to bit of antioxidants in the dark chocolate, which grows in proportion to how dark the chocolate is.